CHRISTIAN BALE PLAYS THE DEFIANT LEADER IN EXODUS
Christian Bale never wanted a security blanket. That the actor’s box-office busting run as Batman gave him just that was a bonus – “During that time I was starting a family, so that was very nice to have” – but not something he was afraid to throw away.
“I enjoy not knowing what’s coming,” says Bale, whose three films as the Caped Crusader ended with 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises.
“I feel good that we left at that time; we could have hung in there for the cash because that was when the contracts were up and you could really start to leverage.
“Any businessman would have just smacked me around the head and said I’m the biggest idiot ever – that’s exactly when you go in for the kill! But it was the right thing to do.”
Post-Batman, British actor Bale has been making the most of his freedom by spending time with his wife, Sibi Blazic, daughter and this year’s new addition, a son.
“Haven’t worked for almost a whole year. But loving it,” the 40-year-old Oscar-winner says.
“I love not working. When I work, all I wanna do is work.
‘‘When I don’t work, I never want to work again.”
Dragging Bale out of such hibernation is no easy task, requiring “either a friend, a director I’ve worked with before” or “someone I know is a really good collaborator.
‘‘That’s what really excites me to get cracking again”.
Ridley Scott was not a previous Bale collaborator or close friend, but did have past form with, let’s say, discerning leading men, from Russell Crowe to Harrison Ford.
Bale does not believe he was on Scott’s radar – “I don’t imagine he was sitting around going, ‘Oh, really gotta work with Christian!’ ” – but does recall briefly meeting the director some years before and suggesting they work together.
“I thought he’d forgot. It was about four years later that he rolled up to the house and said, ‘Wanna play Moses?’ I went, ‘Aaaah ha ha haaaa!’ I thought maybe he meant like some modern retelling, some revisionist thing. He said, ‘No, swords and sandals’.
‘‘I said, ‘Really? Beard?’ ‘Yep. The whole lot.’ ”
That masterful meeting of minds sowed the seeds for Exodus: Gods and Kings, the Biblical epic that is out today.
Bale’s take on the prophet is a conflicted military man, raised like a brother to Ramses (Joel Edgerton) until the paranoid Pharaoh casts him out into the desert.
Years later he returns with a plague-slinging God on his side, to lead his people to freedom across the Red Sea.
Once Scott planted the idea, Bale’s first action was to watch Monty Python’s classic mickey-taking of Biblical films, Life of Brian, and Mel Brooks’ equally tongue-in-cheek History of the World: Part I.
“There’s a very fine line between Life of Brian and many very earnest Biblical films – they’re often hilarious, and they don’t mean to be,” Bale says.
The actor says he did some serious digging into the Moses fable, from the basket down the river to the burning bush.
“It’s a far more fascinating story than I ever realised. Moses is such a complex, contradictory character. I felt like the Cecil B. DeMille film told the story with hindsight: this is a prophet, no question. But when you can’t connect the dots forward, you think, ‘Well how terrifying that must have been for a man who suddenly feels he’s talking to God?’
“He actually tried not to take the job, initially; he said, ‘I’m not your man’. Until God got quite mad at him and said, ‘Look, I’m telling you you need to do it’. ‘Ugh, all right’.
“That’s the approach I wanted to take.”
Complex it may be, yet the role is a far less flamboyant one than that Edgerton gets to play with as Ramses.
“Less glam rock,” Bale says. “I just don’t think I could have played that as well as Joel. Who could carry off that gold like he did? That eyeliner?
‘‘He managed to do that as well as show all the arrogance and insecurities of this man trying desperately to hold on to power. On top of all his gold, he owned it.”
Christian Bale swapped the instincts of Batman for the wisdom of the prophet Moses in Ridley Scott’s
Exodus: Gods and Kings.