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
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
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.