May sound ridiculous now, considering how popular he has been in the role, but It wasn’t easy for British actor Christian Bale to get an audition for Warner’s big-budget Batman relaunch . The story goes that, shortly after the release of his memorable turn in ”American Psycho” (2000), Bale had his people contact the powers-that-be and let them he’d be keen on making the transition from Bateman to Batman. It would take a number of years, and quite a few trips back to Warner Bros, before the – who before ”American Psycho” was best known as a child star, featuring in the likes of ”Empire of the Sun” and ”Newsies” – actor would land on the short-list. Even after he did land the lead role in ”Batman Begins”, Bale would face further hurdles – like, for instance, a mask that didn’t fit him.
On the eve of the release of Bale’s third (and, according to him final) Batman movie, ”The Dark Knight Rises”, OLIVIA MARNE finds how just how differently shaped Christian Bale and Val Kilmer’s heads are.
Tell us about the time you first put on the cowl, Christian.
It was kind of weird. I think it was because I was originally wearing Val Kilmer’s one (from Batman Forever)… and so, ha, it didn’t quite fit.
All I remember was that the claustrophobia was just unbelievable in that thing. I just stood there and I thought, ‘I can’t breathe…I can’t think…This is too tight…This is squeezing my head…I’m going to panic…I’m about to have a nervous breakdown…I’m going to have a panic attack right this second!’
I thought Chris Nolan would have to recast. I just stood there and I thought, ‘I would really like to make this movie and be able to get through this.’ So I asked for 20 minutes to myself and I just stood there. Then I called everyone back in and said, ‘OK, just talk very calmly please and maybe I can get through this!’”
Everyone was sitting around asking ‘so, how’s that? how’s it feel mate?’ while I was suffocating in there. They gave me my 20.
You ended up getting your own custom-fitted cowl and suit?
In the same way Bruce Wayne improves the suit, we improved the suit for comfort. And I could rip the cowl off myself if I did in fact see stars.
You were very keen to play Batman from day one – especially for Chris Nolan’s incarnation. What has Chris brought to the character, you think?
Correct me if I’m wrong, my understanding is that Bob Kane created this character in 1939, which being from England, right, that was beginning of WWII. And it was an answer to the uselessness that individuals felt against this humongous tragedy, and what could you do? So it was topical in its inception, that’s how Batman began…it began as a very topical character, and I think Chris returned it to that.
Batman gets his ass kicked in this latest one…
Yes! [Bane is] the first adversary of Batman’s that you know could probably whip his butt.
And there’s quite a few battles between Bats and Bane in this one…
You learn something more about each character throughout each fight, which is the mark of a good fight. You learn about what Batman has had to go through from the beginning of the movie to the end in order to be able to defeat this man. And you’re learning about Bane as well, and the changes that have come over him. And that’s always essential in any fight. That’s really what you’re looking for. We’ve seen so many people punching each other non-stop, who cares? You’re looking for ’What are the changes? What are the weaknesses? What are the strengths of each character that are going to allow them to dominate one or the other?’
The fight actually started… speaking filming-wise… in New York and finished in Pittsburgh. So we were punching each other all the way across the country [Laughs].
There was the excitement of having a thousand extras there – all punching each other – and it really invigorated myself and Tom [Hardy]. We gave it all we got.
Tom is a phenomenal actor and a formidable opponent.
Well, you ended up getting the most recognized American character on the big screen instead. But this is your last Batman movie you say? Do you remember what your final moment on set was?
Well, my last moment on set was with Anne Hathaway as Catwoman!
Yeah, we were on a roof in New York. I was wrapped but they still had a few days on the movie. I just went down, sat in a room, and realized, ‘This is it.’ So again, I asked if they could please leave me alone for 20 minutes. I felt real proud that we achieved what we had set out too. [This character] changed my life and changed my career and I just wanted to appreciate that.