Since we knew we weren’t going to have any time to talk to Christopher Nolan while he was busy shooting on such an important day, we were glad that we at least got a little bit of time with each of the primary cast members, many of them talking about the movie and their roles on record for the first time, knowing that we wouldn’t be able to run the interviews for many, many months.
CHRISTIAN BALE – “BRUCE WAYNE/BATMAN”
First up was the main man himself, Bale, having just come off his Oscar win for Dave O. Russell’s The Fighter, and taking a few minutes to talk to us before heading off to the airport, not having anything to do with the scene filming that day.
Q: Over the last three years, you’ve been asked about making this movie and it’s always about working with Chris again. Was there any doubt in your mind that’s you’d make another Batman movie with Chris Nolan again? When did you know it was going to happen?
Christian Bale: I knew it was going to happen for me because I was contracted to do this film, so I didn’t have any choice. I would have been sued up the ying yang and be on the street and penniless if I hadn’t done it. Chris, from my understanding, could have chosen not to do it, but he had always talked about this as being a trilogy and he liked the challenge of the fact that an awful lot of movies fail on the third one. There are some exceptions, but most of the time that’s the real tricky one to pull off. I think he really likes the challenge of that.
Q: Can you talk about Bruce’s relationship with Selina Kyle in this movie? We’ve seen a few shots of you two talking and holding hands.
Bale: Maybe people have seen some things and they don’t know what they’re looking at. It is quite interesting and hear what people think we’re doing. You look and go, “That’s not what we’re doing.”
Q: But what is going on with them? Does he fall in love with her?
Bale: I’m figuring it all out as I go along. I’ve got Chris sitting on this shoulder here and Emma Thomas sitting on this shoulder here right now as you ask the question going: “Don’t say anything! You know you’re not allowed to answer that one.” I think let’s leave that one until you see the movie.
Q: Bruce’s hair seems a bit longer now, so is there any significance to that?
Bale: Yeah, yeah. There’s a little… you know… significance to it, a certain amount, but we’ve always had to mess around. Every single movie that we’ve done for the Batman stuff has always had hair that we’ve had to adapt to different looks throughout, so the longer you keep it, the more you can do with it.
Q: Because this is a trilogy and an end for you and Chris, does that give you the freedom to bring an end to Batman’s character arc since you know you’re not doing another film?
Bale: I have no clue what the audience is going to think about the movie. Thankfully I have someone like Chris who is really great at gauging that. He represents the audience for us on the set. For me, I love the character so much that if it was left to me, you’d get a very bizarre Batman movie. Like “What the hell? Why are we delving so much into his psyche?” He is a fascinating character and then Chris just has to tell me the points at which it gets tedious and boring and he doesn’t want to see what I’m doing. It’s great to have someone at the helm like Chris. He is remarkably confident at going with his gut and not desiring any safety net. There are a number of times when I say to him: “Are you sure you don’t want me to give you a few other variants? I can do this one. What if later down track you choose to change this part of the story, in that case we need to change the domino effect. I can give you three or four different ways to lay it.” But he’s like, “No, no I know what I want.” That’s exactly what I need. He’s very firm with it. It is a very fascinating character. In honesty, I think there are probably an awful lot of stories that can be told with Batman. I like the idea of him getting older and can he do it quite as much anymore? But I kind of feel, you gotta leave when the going is good and this is when Chris wants to wrap it up, and it’s the right time.
Q: By the third movie is Batman’s drive still being fed by the death of his parents or has he accepted a larger responsibility for Gotham that doesn’t involve that as much?
Bale: To me, he has it all. It’s all in there. He’s still that child basically. The one thing that I do notice that’s a lot in the graphic novel which we’ve played with a little bit is this whole notion of him genuinely being a playboy vs. what we’ve done which is that he sort of performs that but his heart is not really in it. The eternal problem that Alfred has with watching this guy who has no life. He’s put his entire life on hold, because he’s got such fierceness in his mind and his emotions that he just will not forget the pain of his parents. With most people, it’s time heals all wounds, but I think with him, it’s like no, no, no, he doesn’t want to forget it. He wants to maintain that anger that he felt at that injustice, but equally he wants to present this very vacuous soulless persona to Gotham so hopefully noone will suspect him and will just think he’s a spoiled bastard. Consequently, in his most intimate moments he has Alfred, he’s got Rachel and there is not a whole lot there, because it’s a complete arrested development, and the recognition that at some point, he’s got to start living. He is seriously behind in terms of life and enjoyment of life. That’s all been sacrificed and at some point hopefully, it’s Alfred’s wish that he will start to live again. This tragedy has defined him to a degree he’s sacrificed everything that most people would consider worth living for in life and he’s going to have relearn that, far too late and embarrassingly late in life.
Q: Do we know how much time has passed since the last movie and is anything from the previous movie dealt with in this one? There still seemed to be a bunch of loose ends, like we haven’t seen that much of how Rachel’s death affects him.
Bale: Oh, yeah. There’s an awful lot of new discoveries, truths coming out and the whole question of “What’s the correct thing to do? Continue with lies and make people feel good or have the truth come out and devastate their lives?” So yes, absolutely, both “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” it deals with an awful lot from both those movies.
Q: How much time has passed?
Bale: It’s been I would say years. I don’t know if Chris would want me to say exactly how long, but it’s not the next day. There’s quite a change in him.
Q: Can you talk about working with Marion Cotillard and Tom Hardy?
Bale: It’s a real good cast. I worked with Marion really briefly in “Public Enemies” and she’s a wonderful versatile actress and so far, the work’s been really great. With Anne, likewise. I think she’s doing something very different from what most people would have seen her do before. I’ve been working with Tom mostly over the last few weeks, he’s a real fascinating actor. He’s going to be creating some wonderful characters over his career and he’s doing so with this. He’s kind of just gleeful, coming into work every day. He’s got a great character to chew the scenery with in a good way, and he’s the real deal. I’m very impressed with him. I’m very impressed with all of the cast in this one.
Q: We’ve seen a number of photos of Batman fighting with Bane. Have you seen them?
Bale: I’ve seen some of them.
Q: Can you talk about crafting fight scenes with Tom and making that work?
Bale: We have fantastic stunt guys, Buster Reeves, who has been with us since the first one and Tom Struthers. This is sort of what we do. They kind of work out what they’d like to see in the fights and then Tom and myself come in and bring the story into the fights, because a fight which is just a knockdown, everyone punching each other, seizes to be exciting after a while. You have to figure a way to tell a story within the fight. You can also get some very trained fighters who can follow an incredibly fast and furious fight. I don’t know about you guys, but you watch UFC and you go, “Oh, I don’t know what’s going on.” It looks like a bloody mess. You sometimes have to be able to just look at it with eyes like myself, someone who is not a trained fighter, and understand what’s happening. It’s amazing the difference that, between the fantastic stuntmen that come in and do their jobs and then when Tom and I come in and say, “Okay, right, I get that, but this is what I’ve gotta be thinking here, so I’m going to do it in this way.” Actually, seeing a fight that has a description, and a beginning, middle and end to it, is a wonderful thing. It keeps it so much more entertaining and it means so much more to just showing off a few martial arts.
Q: What’s it like shooting in IMAX?
Bale: I have had a little experience from the last one and when we made “The Prestige,” Chris was experimenting with it. They’re bloody noisy cameras, and you know you’ve got to do ADR whenever there’s the IMAX camera coming out, but you know it’s going to be a hell of a great-looking shot. It was stunning with “The Dark Knight.” I remember sitting at the premiere and people going “Wooo” feeling like they were in it, so it’s a lovely piece of machinery.
Q: Do you know how much he’s using the IMAX cameras for?
Bale: Ah, no bloody idea. Ask him about that. I’m not an actor who tends to care… I don’t ask, “Is this a close-up? Is this a master? Is this a wide? What are you doing?” if I look up and notice the camera, I’m like, “Oh, it’s the big one today, it must be an IMAX day.” It doesn’t affect what I’m doing.
Q: Are you going to miss playing Batman after this?
Bale: Course I will, yeah. Yeah, definitely.
Q: Will you miss wearing the suit?
Bale: For all the discomfort and the heat and the sweat and the headaches and everything from it, when you sit back and watch the movie at the end of the day, you go: “Well, that’s f*ckin’ cool.” I will miss that rubber.
Q: Are you happy with how the movie ends and where Bruce Wayne/Batman ends up?
Bale: Yeah, very, it’s good. (laughter)
Head to Page 2 for our interview with Anne Hathaway on playing Catwoman!