BAT­MAN

As the fi­nal in­stal­ment of Chris Nolan’s Bat­man tril­ogy is about to hit the screens, Chris­tian Bale talks about how hang­ing up the cape for good has been a bit­ter­sweet ex­pe­ri­ence, writes Michele Manelis

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Opens Vil­lage Cine­mas on Thurs­day

The leg­end ends

IT’S been nearly a decade since Chris­tian Bale, 38, took on his most pop­u­lar role as the beloved vig­i­lante Bat­man in di­rec­tor Chris Nolan’s tril­ogy.

Now in the eagerly- awaited fi­nal in­stal­ment, The Dark Knight Rises, he hangs up his bat cape for good.

‘‘ There’s an aw­ful lot I’ve taken away from these three films. I’ve made some great friend­ships, par­tic­u­larly with Chris Nolan,’’ Bale says.

‘‘ There are oth­ers whom I miss daily. Heath, for in­stance – he’s been an in­te­gral part of the tril­ogy.’’

Clean shaven, the Welsh- born ac­tor is ca­su­ally dressed and in good spir­its.

In a Bev­erly Hills ho­tel to pro­mote the movie, he re­calls the mo­ment he first stepped into the ca­reer- defin­ing role.

‘‘ Al­most nine years ago when the fran­chise be­gan, I was awestruck by play­ing such an iconic char­ac­ter,’’ he says. ‘‘ Think­ing about it now, when I shot the last scene of the last movie, I re­flected on ev­ery­thing it meant to me throughout the years. It was in­cred­i­bly mean­ing­ful.’’ It’s widely as­sumed that

The Dark Knight Rises will be­come the high­est gross­ing film of 2012, top­ping the jaw­drop­ping box of­fice open­ing

of US$ 200 mil­lion for The

Avengers.

Pro­duced for a re­ported bud­get of $ US250 mil­lion and con­sid­er­ing the fran­chise’s track record – Bat­man

Be­gins in 2005 grossed $ 372 mil­lion, and The Dark

Knight in 2008 raked in more than US$ 1 bil­lion – it’s a safe bet Warner Bros will make a hefty profit.

As the fig­ure­head for such a fi­nan­cially vi­able en­ter­prise, nat­u­rally Bale’s stock rose con­sid­er­ably once he donned the famed rub­ber suit.

He says, can­didly: ‘‘ Un­til Bat­man, I’d of­ten hear from di­rec­tors who wanted me in a film, ‘ Look, I’m sorry, but the money peo­ple just won’t let me cast you’.’’

Now rid­ing the A- list, those days are far be­hind him.

‘‘ Who knows? Talk to me in a few years’ time. I might be back in that same po­si­tion,’’ he jokes.

‘‘ But in the in­terim I’ve got­ten to make some won­der­ful films I’m very proud of.’’

Bale won an Academy Award for best sup­port­ing ac­tor for his per­for­mance in

The Fighter in 2010. He also starred in Ter­mi­na­tor Sal­va­tion the year ear­lier, when his rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing dif­fi­cult be­came pub­lic knowl­edge due to a pro­fan­ity- laced tirade to­wards one of the crew.

Al­though Bale apol­o­gised for the out­burst, the episode was later par­o­died on many tele­vi­sion pro­grams in­clud­ing

Fam­ily Guy and Late Night with Co­nan O’Brien. And in 2008, on the eve of The

Dark Knight pre­miere in Lon­don, he was ar­rested for as­sault against his mother and sis­ter, al­though charges were later dropped.

The source of the ar­gu­ment was re­port­edly caused by his fam­ily’s fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion.

‘‘ I’m sure ev­ery­one has mo­ments when we feel like we should be ec­stat­i­cally happy and we can’t fig­ure out the rea­son

why were not,’’ he says. ‘‘ Life throws you curve balls, as it does to ev­ery­one. I’m no dif­fer­ent.’’

It seems for now, Bale couldn’t be more con­tent.

Liv­ing in Los Angeles since 1992, he main­tains a reg­u­lar life­style with his wife of 12 years San­dra Sibi Blazic, 42, and their 7- year- old daugh­ter, Em­me­line.

‘‘ I get no more joy than be­ing with my daugh­ter and my fam­ily,’’ he says.

More can­did about his pri­vate life than he’s been in the past, Bale talks about tak­ing his fam­ily on lo­ca­tion.

‘‘ I be­lieve in stick­ing to­gether,’’ he says. ‘‘ I be­lieve that mak­ing movies can pro­duce ex­pe­ri­ences un­like any other job that I’m aware of, and I travel to won­der­ful places and I want my daugh­ter to be a part of that.

‘‘ I want her along for the ride and my wife agrees.

‘‘ We want to be to­gether throughout all of that. So, no, I’m not a Skype- Dad. And any­way, I’m bloody aw­ful with tech­nol­ogy. I would al­ways balls- up Skype.’’

The Dark Knight Rises was shot around the globe in lo­ca­tions in­clud­ing New York, Los Angeles, Glas­gow and Jodhpur.

The script was writ­ten by Nolan and his brother Jonathan from a story con­ceived by di­rec­tor and screen­writer David S. Goyer and picks up eight years af­ter The Dark Knight.

It binds the pre­vi­ous films to­gether as a co­he­sive unit and is not merely a spe­cial ef­fects- laden ride ( shot on IMAX), but it of­fers an emo­tional roller­coaster ride for fans of the mythol­ogy. ‘‘ I be­lieve that mak­ing movies can pro­duce ex­pe­ri­ences un­like any other job that I’m aware of, and I travel to won­der­ful places’’

While the movie is first and fore­most pure en­ter­tain­ment, it’s cer­tainly not of the mind­less va­ri­ety, like all Nolan projects ( most no­tably In­cep­tion ) and in­cludes some po­lit­i­cal and of- themo­ment so­cial un­der­tones.

In a stroke of serendip­ity, dur­ing the shoot in Man­hat­tan, the sto­ry­line con­tained some sub­ject mat­ters in com­mon with what was hap­pen­ing in the world.

‘‘ We were shoot­ing in Novem­ber and Oc­cupy Wall Street was hap­pen­ing two blocks away. It was un­canny that one of themes of the movie had ac­tu­ally come to hap­pen in so­ci­ety,’’ Bale says.

But it’s in the eye of the be­holder as to whether the story needs to res­onate as more than just an en­ter­tain­ment movie.

Re­turn­ing are the beloved char­ac­ters: Michael Caine as the loyal but­ler Al­fred; Gary Old­man as Com­mis­sioner Gor­don; and Mor­gan Free­man reprises the role of Lu­cius Fox.

The film also wel­comes new­com­ers Anne Hath­away as a take- no- pris­on­ers Cat­woman, Os­car- win­ner Mar­ion Cotil­lard ( La Vie en Rose, Con­ta­gion ) as a Wayne En­ter­prises board mem­ber, and Joseph Gor­don- Le­vitt ( 500 Days

of Sum­mer, In­cep­tion ) as a good cop. Bale sees the role of Hath­away’s Cat­woman/ Selina Kyle as a great role model.

‘‘ I think Selina Kyle is a very pos­i­tive influence on young girls. My daugh­ter is too young to see this movie, but she will even­tu­ally,’’ he says.

Clearly, never far from his mind, he con­tin­ues. ‘‘ We have a very bold, forth­right lit­tle girl and I be­lieve it’s im­por­tant to have great fe­male role mod­els in movies, in books and mu­sic,’’ he says.

‘‘ It’s funny. I never used to lis­ten to fe­male singers, though now I do an aw­ful lot be­cause I want her to know that she can do any­thing that a man can do.’’

HOLY BAT­MAN: Chris­tian Bale, above, dons the bat cape one last time, and with co- stars, Anne Hath­away, far left, Michael Caine, cen­tre, and Tom Hardy, above and left, who plays Bat­man’s neme­sis Bane.

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