Christian Bale Interview For Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’
Following the events of ‘The Dark Knight,’ it has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Caped Crusader sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act. But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane. The epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ stars Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Tom Hardy as Bane, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Jim Gordon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake, Michael Caine as Alfred, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate. The film arrives in cinemas and IMAX on July 20th. You can check out my previous interview with Christian Bale for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ here.
Throughout this Batman saga we’ve seen the physical and mental consequences of Bruce Wayne being Batman. With ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ that’s even more implicit?
Christian Bale: Definitely. We wanted to show a frail Bruce Wayne. We wanted to show, as we always have, we wanted to show the physical consequences of what he does. And with ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ we wanted to show the mental consequences of what he’s done, especially. At the end of ‘The Dark Knight’ he made a choice, which went against all of his ethics, but which in the short term seemed to be the right choice to make, and probably was, in the short term. But in the long term, the truth is coming out, and he recognises that the foundation of the peace within Gotham is based on a lie. Bruce has incredible remorse, he’s become more of a recluse than we’ve ever seen him before. He’s wracked with guilt and Batman has disappeared, completely.
How important has it been for you to keep that evolution as a character?
Christian Bale: It’s very important, you know? There’s a great character here, so there’s nothing to be lazy about. There’s a boy, there’s a man here who has put his life on hold, he’s driven by this great pain and desire for revenge. His wish is for purposefulness and usefulness in his life. And so I always viewed him as every bit interesting as any of the villains, in any of the movies.
And he’s almost as damaged….
Christian Bale: Very much so, he’s a very damaged man.
In ’The Dark Knight Rises’ there are a number of characters that inspire Bruce Wayne to embrace Batman again, they rekindle a fire inside him, a purposefulness?
Christian Bale: Yeah. That’s through the inspiration of a couple of characters, a couple of new characters. Through Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle, who approaches him as though she couldn’t care less that he was Bruce Wayne, which was obviously a breathe of fresh air to him, because everyone is nervous to be in his presence. And Selina, she doesn’t care, she doesn’t care about who he is, she’s rude, she’s brash, she steals from him and he finds that humorous and he finds that colourful (laughs). It starts to make him interested in people again. She’s a somewhat confusing person to understand, initially. And then he meets with John Blake, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, who inspires him because he reminds him of who he used to be. He reminds him of his altruism. Even though Blake would probably be surprised to hear it, Bruce is deeply inspired by him
How was your experience working opposite Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle?
Christian Bale: I think from the first time that I read with her, I turned to Christopher Nolan afterwards and I said, “I think that’s it.” Because I recognised from being within the suit, the Batman suit, that you had to have a reason for wearing these bizarre costumes (laughs). In Christopher Nolan’s world you had to make that mean something. And with Bruce Wayne it’s because he feels monstrous, so he creates this monster in order to challenge that. I found with Anne that she was able to, in the scenes that she’s not wearing her Catwoman costume, to be very real and in-keeping with the atmosphere of Chris’ movies. But then when she put the costume on, she was wearing it, she wasn’t dominated by it. You have to be able to do that without going over the top, without making it too cartoonish. You had to be able to overcome the clothes. And she was very able to do that.
Then you have a ruthless new adversary in Tom Hardy’s Bane, what was it like working with him?
Christian Bale: Tom Hardy is a phenomenal actor, he used the obstacle of his mask to be a positive. He’s incredible at being able to convey all that he needs to just with his eyes, despite the mask covering most of his face. He’s the first adversary Batman has come across that has been physically dominant over Batman. And especially since we are meeting Batman at a physically frail state, and he has to try to recover himself. He has to try to recover his strength, both mentally and physically as well.
I can imagine the fight sequences being difficult when you’re both wearing these costumes with much of your faces covered….
Christian Bale: It was a little tricky sometimes to hear each other and we worked out little signals for each other (laughs). But Tom, he’s a wonderful actor, and Chris casts very very well.
You’ve got some tremendous scenes with Michael Caine’s Alfred in ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ how did you get through the more emotional scenes?
Christian Bale: It’s always easy with Michael, this is the fourth movie that we’ve made together. He’s a real pro and he’s one of the best out there. When you’re working with people you know well….and we know our characters well so things happen actually very easily and very smoothly. He’s the heart of the movie, really. He keeps Bruce Wayne/Batman in check and makes sure that he stays on the right path. I always enjoy working with Michael, he’s great, truly great.
What do you take away from your experience working with Christopher Nolan on this Dark Knight journey?
Christian Bale: He’s very confident and he’s been so the whole time, he hasn’t changed since the first day that I met him. He’s always very efficient and very clear about what he wants. He just gets it. I’ve learned working with him that it’s possible to make these large-scope movies, but still retain a sense of character there, that you don’t have to lose that. That so often happens in these large movies, it becomes about the action. With Christopher, every fight sequence must not just be a fight sequence for the sake of it, it has to tell you something about the character otherwise forget it, you should just cut that whole thing out. And having Tom as an advisory was very good for that because he’s such a good actor that he was able to bring that to the table. Also with Chris, he really gave me a respect for these kind of movies. He has incredible integrity, and consequently, when he told me this is the final one, I listened to him and said, “Ok, this is goodbye.”
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