MAG­NIF­I­CENT MOSES

CHRISTIAN BALE PLAYS THE DE­FI­ANT LEADER IN EX­O­DUS

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - NEALA JOHN­SON

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.”

Pic­ture: FOX FILMS

Christian Bale swapped the instincts of Bat­man for the wis­dom of the prophet Moses in Ri­d­ley Scott’s

Ex­o­dus: Gods and Kings.

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