Christian Bale seems to think that romantic comedies are beneath him

"Hostiles" Premiere

I don’t give Matthew McConaughey a lot of credit for most things, but I’ll give him this: he is good at being a romantic lead. So is Keanu Reeves, so is Tom Hanks, so is Colin Firth, so is Hugh Grant, so is Kumail Nanjiani. Those are actors who are great as “falling in love on-screen.” They are open to having great chemistry with a leading lady. This used to be a given with actors: they would need to be good at romance on-screen. But it’s fallen by the wayside over time, concurrent with the rise of superhero films, honestly. Few major actors these days are open to playing romantic leads or even reading romantic-comedy scripts. Christian Bale is one of those actors. It’s weird, because he’s so talented, I think he would be great at anything he wanted to do. But when asked about doing a rom-com, he scoffed and dissed the whole genre, like rom-coms are beneath him. He also said a lot of sh-t about why he loves to do those drastic physical transformations and more in this Guardian interview:

How he gained weight to play Dick Cheney: “I ate a lot of pies… I’ve got to stop doing it. I suspect it’s going to take longer to get this off. These pants are one of the few pairs I’ve got that have these straps on the side so I can still fit into ’em.” A fluctuating waistline, he says, has consequences. “I’m not big on shopping, so you end up with a lot of elasticated things.”

Why he’s obsessed with transforming for roles: “There is a much easier way, but I can’t do it. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have any training. I see actors who can just be themselves and then switch and give these really incredible performances, and then switch back to being themselves. I find I start laughing because I’m too aware that it’s still me. So I try to get as distant as possible. Otherwise, I can’t do it… It’s helpful not to look like yourself. If I look in the mirror and go, ‘Ah, that doesn’t look like me,’ that’s helpful.”

When he lost all of that weight for The Machinist: “It’s an amazing experience doing that. When you’re so skinny that you can hardly walk up a flight of stairs … you’re, like, this being of pure thought. It’s like you’ve abandoned your body. That’s the most Zen-like state I’ve ever been in my life. Two hours sleep, reading a book for 10 hours straight without stopping … unbelievable. You couldn’t rile me up. No rollercoaster of emotions.” Alas, it doesn’t last. “As soon as you start putting the food back in your stomach, the rollercoaster comes back.”

White patriarchy: “Everything is run by old white men. The richness that we could all enjoy if we started embracing a much wider variety of sources of storytelling from women, from minorities.”

The Weinstein scandal: “I can’t see that this will become a footnote and be swept under the rug. It does feel like it will change…Some people might call me almost reclusive. Nobody gossips with me. I was clueless. If I’m not making a film, I don’t really socialise with that many people who make films. The casting couch, yes, I’d heard of that. But specifics? No, nothing at all. Do I believe that it has all been happening? Absolutely.”

Whether he would consider doing a romantic comedy:
Bale bats the question back with what sounds like a challenge. “Have you ever enjoyed a romantic comedy?” I pause and he presses the point. “Have you ever enjoyed a romantic comedy?” A few, I say, but my mind blanks. “Can you name ’em?” Er, When Harry Met Sally. “That’s going back quite a ways, isn’t it? You’re hard pressed.” He shakes his head. “I was asked to do a romantic comedy recently and I thought they’d lost their minds. Cats have those insane half hours every evening. I think it must have been that for the production company. I don’t know why anyone would ever offer me a romantic comedy. I find American Psycho very funny.”

[From The Guardian]

I have the feeling that Leonardo DiCaprio probably thinks the same thing about rom-coms at this point too – like, “why would I bother to ‘fall in love’ on-screen with some 30-something woman when the ‘real acting’ is getting groped by a CGI bear?!?” This is part of male fragility too, let’s face it: actors like Bale and DiCaprio think that being romantic or funny or both is somehow “less than” play-acting hypermasculinity. Or maybe I’m just overanalyzing and Bale is just critical of how few good romances and romantic comedies there are these days. But why do I think that if Ghost Nora Ephron made a baby with Richard Curtis and that baby wrote the most brilliant, touching and funny rom-com script, Bale still wouldn’t want it?

Premiere Of Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures' 'Hostiles'

Photos courtesy of WENN.

 

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80 Responses to “Christian Bale seems to think that romantic comedies are beneath him”

  1. Lucy says:

    Well he’d be right? He is too good for most crap romcoms ?

  2. Bridget says:

    Well Christian, imagine if most of the roles you were offered were one of those romantic comedies that you laughed at. That’s what it’s like being a SUCCESSFUL actress – even the most successful women are given few opportunities for quality work. I swear, at least half of the romantic comedies being made are because it’s another job in front of the people making it.

    When done right, these are some of the most timeless movies out there. It isn’t that you have to reach as far back as When Harry Met Sally to think of one, it’s that the themes hit emotional beats that resonate through time. Interpersonal relationships will never be out of fashion and out of style. However, when the people that make those movies only deign to do so, or have contempt for the intelligence of their audience, of course that’s going to be reflected in the quality of work that’s put out.

    Though Bale isn’t exactly the dude you’d put in a comedy in general. So I agree, someone must have lost their mind.

  3. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I tend to agree, but I don’t like romcoms at all. I mean at. All. Romcoms and musicals are a big fat no.

    • Olive says:

      same. both are kind of this sickeningly sweet world. i’m just not into that escapism. give me a gritty crime story with an unhappy ending any day over that.

      • Th says:

        Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a sickeningly sweet world? Rocky Horror Picture Show? Little Shop of Horrors? Les Miserables? Really?

        Crybaby, Nightmare Before Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Hair, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Labyrinth – all fantastic movie musicals – maybe you only ever hear of the LaLa Land type movies but musicals are brilliant. There are some wonderfully weird ones. Give them a chance!

      • Olive says:

        @Th yes, i find ALL musicals sickeningly sweet and nauseating, just like i said in my comment. It’s the singing itself, not the story, that makes them that way. I’ve heard of all the musicals you listed, regretfully have seen several, and my opinion is unchanged.

      • imqrious2 says:

        @TH, those are GREAT films!!! Totally agree!!!!

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      @TH, I’m older so I remember watching old movie musicals on the tele. Went to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror as a teen. Couldn’t stand Willy Wonka, old and new. Granted I’ve seen ‘em too many times. Little Shop of Horrors… no. Nightmare was okay.. my sons love it. Labyrinth is really the only one that spoke to me in any way. I’ve seen all the Disneys with my kids, but wouldn’t seek them out. Throughout the years, the chances I’ve afforded musicals have only solidified my distaste lol. Trust me, I’ve had this very conversation with friends. Breaking out in song makes my ass twitch! Tim Burton gives them a decent go, but nah.

  4. Alexis says:

    I kind of agree. It just doesn’t really suit him. I would still like to see him give it a shot though.

  5. Jamie42 says:

    He asks a good question: when did you last enjoy a romantic comedy? “When Harry met Sally” would be my answer too, but I can’t really think of another.

  6. Shijel says:

    Wow, the quote about the Machinist though. I miss that sort of clarity, you know. Operating on bare minimum, ascetic, focused. But it kills you if you buy into it, and 99% of the time most people don’t have the choice to buy into it, it just comes whether you want it or not. I’m glad I’ve managed to stay in recovery for six years. Not always happy, but it’s easier this way on others, and on me.

    But GOD did that hit a chord with me.

    Also I like him as an actor a lot but I find any kind of romance to be his weak suit. He’s ice cold when he’s supposed to play someone who’s in love.

    • Domino says:

      Ah Shijel, thanks for sharing. I am always surprised when I find out about others dealing with eating disorders. Hope I am reading your comment right.

      But yeah, his losing weight for Machinist describes all the reasons I had an eating disorder to a T. I stopped having to feel, I had incredible energy, I never slept, I got lots of compliments on my fitness, and then it all crashed and burned and I nearly died and I had to confront all the emotions I had been holding back.

      I still struggle, but with recovery came the realization that if you don’t eat you feel really disconnected from everyone and everything around you and hollow and empty. Life is a lot less fun when you don’t eat, even if you get incredible energy from starving.

      He is lucky he didn’t get stuck in it, as I see a lot of actresses – and can think of one or two actors – who lose lots of weight for a part and then never gain it back, but no one says anything because It’s Hollywood.

      • Shijel says:

        Life’s a lot less fun. This I agree with. Like I said, i miss the detachment, clarity. The “zen”. But I feel like that’s not a human’s supposed to function. And though the “rollercoaster” can be hard, I feel like it’s something I’m equipped to deal with as a human being. The starving ‘zen’ was an altered state. Easy to romanticise but really just destructive.

        I’m not sure if he didn’t get stuck in it though. He keeps switching between seriously overweight, super fit, and emaciated between the roles. One’s gotta wonder about that sort of detachment, the control, you know? The way he worded his Machinist experience makes me think that he’s known, and still knows something similar to what we know.

        Or maybe I’m just projecting.

  7. Ninks says:

    He played Laurie in Little Women. Why’s he acting like that’s beneath him now?

  8. Alexandria says:

    I don’t enjoy rom coms either. There are very few rom coms with great plots? Out of these few, maybe he’s not even suitable, even if he can act? I did enjoy Made of Honor. Is Love Actually counted? I liked it. Love Me If You Dare was pretty good and different. Can’t think of anything else. I think in this case he shows he’s a straight talking fella and not into sugarcoating.

  9. Ginger says:

    Little Women wasn’t a romcom.

    He’s a great actor, but not a particularly charming or affable man…he’s truculent and attracted to darker material. No surprise that romcoms aren’t in his wheelhouse.

  10. Jo says:

    Rom-coms can be great, but like all good films it starts with a good script, and most of the rom-coms in the last 15 to 20 years are incredibly mediocre. The Big Sick was a wonderful movie, and I hope more like it (well-written, well-acted with believable characters) are made.

  11. Kealeen says:

    Christian needs to see The Big Sick; maybe he’d change his mind.

  12. Jussie says:

    I don’t think he thinks he’s above it. Earlier on he admitted he needs a lot more prep and gimmicks than actors he considers extremely talented, so he’s not fronting like he’s the greatest.

    I do think he knows it’s not in his wheelhouse, even if a great script came along. Romance is. Dark and cynical comedy is. Romantic comedy though, absolutely not.

    He’s not wrong about the quality either. Good romantic comedies are like finding a needle in a haystack. For one thing they barely exist anymore. Most things labelled rom-coms are just (bad) comedies that feature a relationship but no romance of any kind. There’s great films like The Big Sick, but they’re more dramedy than romance. I can’t actually think of a recent rom-com, a true rom-com, that I thought was good, let alone a fantastic one.

  13. Happy21 says:

    No! Thank God him and DiCaprio don’t play in rom-coms, they’d be terrible in them while they are most certainly good at everything they choose to do absent rom-coms.

  14. JA says:

    I don’t read it as he’s thinking he’s above such work but that his type of acting and range doesn’t really align with the current rom com character/ role. Like can you truthfully imagine him That role and find it believable and the answer is NO. Perhaps if the writing and script are really good and call for it, I could see him but he’s right, most Rom coms these days are Nicholas Sparks rejects and involve penis jokes so no thanks. I like Christian and he’s a talented dude so agree with him on this.

    • lucy2 says:

      I agree, he’d be an odd and terrible choice for a rom-com, and I say that as someone who loves his work and thinks he’s incredibly talented. He’s not interested in it as a genre, and wouldn’t do well in it if he were. It’s the truth, I have no problem with him saying so.
      There are very few good rom-coms anymore anyway.

  15. Mia4s says:

    Considering 99% of romantic comedies ARE beneath him and that the genre has been sadly mostly garbage for years…sorry am I supposed to have a problem with this answer?

    The Big Sick was terrific, but also a HUGE exception to the rule. I actually hope someone takes this as a challenge and writes a romantic comedy that would interest Bale and a terrific actress. Could save the whole genre!

    Oh and this? “, “why would I bother to ‘fall in love’ on-screen with some 30-something woman…” Bless @Kaiser but come on. Bale and DiCaprio are both in their early 40s; therefore Hollywood law demands a love interest no older than 27. (That’s not a knock on Bale, his wife is older than him).

  16. PPP says:

    On the one hand I don’t like romantic comedies either and he’s about the best guy speaking on the #metoo issue– and I love that he’s also bringing POC into it. I am so grateful for his thoughts on the subject that for me it takes quite a high threshold for me to be annoyed by what he says.

    However, I probably have quite a lot of internalized misogyny going on and tend to have male-dominated interests, so it’s an interesting question: are rom coms low quality, or does my internalized misogyny distort the aesthetic value I see in them? I happily watch that CW superhero stuff, and I actually think it’s better than it gets credit for, but I do think it’s on a par, quality-wise, with a fair amount of rom coms out there.

  17. crazydaisy says:

    I can not believe this is Christian Bale!!!! He looks completely different. Unrecognizable. Guess that’s his shtick. As opposed to rom-coms…or whatever. Total character transformation.

  18. Valiantly Varnished says:

    A lot of people don’t like romcoms. I don’t hate them but most of them ARE in fact crappy. The ones that are genuinely well written with great characters are few and far between. I tend to watch them for what they are – 100 minute breaks from real life. Why would he want to devote 3-4 months of his life filming something he himself isn’t interested in??

  19. OG OhDear says:

    I think you’re right about the male fragility aspect, which comes across as snobbiness. He seems to be the type who thinks he’s a *serious* ac-TOR who only does dramas because that’s the only type of genre worth doing. Comedic acting is often seen as lesser, even though it requires a different set of skills and can be more difficult than dramatic acting, and romantic comedies are considered “women’s stuff” so it’s not as valued. It’s like how tangible artistic works created by men are considered museum-worthy and cultured, whereas tangible artistic works created by women are more often than not considered “arts and crafts.”

  20. Originaltessa says:

    I agree with him. Wtf would he do in a Rom-com? A romantic role? Sure, more of those please. But playing an ad executive that accidentally runs a girl over with his shopping cart? Eh, pass.

  21. perplexed says:

    I didn’t think his answer was that terrible. It wasn’t really defensive or anything — just seemed like an appraisal of where he feels his abilities lie.

    I usually don’t like most men in romantic comedies. The only one I can think of who I find enjoyable in that type of movie is Michael Vartan (maybe because he’s so handsome? Those kinds of movies require eye candy). Even in The Proposal, I didn’t get the big whoop about Ryan Reynolds. It was Sandra Bullock who carried that movie. Maybe Gerard Butler is okay in a romantic comedy? I don’t know…the list is very short in my mind.

    • Originaltessa says:

      Tom Hanks and Ryan Gosling? La la Land and Crazy Stupid Love are rom-coms imo, but good ones, where the acting elevated the genre. Tom Hanks made a string of them, and all were pretty good imo.

      • perplexed says:

        Oh yeah, Ryan Gosling is good. I liked him in Crazy Stupid Love, although it probably didn’t strike me to count that movie as a romantic comedy.

        I don’t really like watching Tom Hanks as much as other people do, so maybe that’s why he didn’t pop into my mind, but now that I think about it he’s probably an effective lead for those kinds of movies. I do think romantic comedies require a certain lightness of touch, and that’s where someone like Hanks is probably stronger as a lead in that kind of movie.

  22. pam says:

    Laurel Canyon might have been a rom com or a dramedy. He was good in that. These types of movies are generally not very high quality. I can’t see him as the romantic leading man, though. He barely has any chemistry with his female costars.

  23. Ana Stacia says:

    He’s at a stage in his career where he can do what he wants and he is just being honest. Bale is a brilliant actor and a dramatic actor. No need for him to do rom coms if he doesn’t want to ‘just because.’

  24. Hazel says:

    Cary Grant built a career on rom coms, PLUS he was a terrific dramatic actor. Bale is full of himself.

  25. Veronica says:

    Male fragility may be part of it, but I think it’s a broader issue of genre snobbery over all. I mean, part of the problem is that humor in general is seen as a lower form of entertainment. Throw in romance (and all the misogynistic implications of that), and romcoms wind up being bottom of the barrel where “serious acting” is concerned, which creates a cycle where less effort is then put into them by the writing team. (Which actually says a lot about the industry as a whole, since I’m frankly of the perspective that good comedy can be even harder to pull off than drama. Just try finding a universally funny movie. Just one.) Not surprisingly, if you look at the careers of most critically acclaimed actors, rom coms tend to exist at the beginning of their career, if there are any, and once they hit their stride, you no longer see them on the resume.

  26. Maum says:

    I don’t know about full of himself.

    I don’t think he sounded patronising- it’s a fact that most rom-com are horribly cheesy and cliched. He’s also not exactly known as a ‘sexy’ actor. I can see why he would be surprised at being offered one.

    Saying that with a good script I would be quite intrigued to see how he would fare as a rom-com leading man.

  27. MP says:

    I loooove me some rom-coms!
    That being said, most women I know think that rom-coms are beneath them to even watch. I can see an actor that prefers dramatic acting to see it as beneath consideration. Most rom-coms are the same story over and over again with a very few that stand out as different imo.

  28. gobo says:

    The vast majority of rom coms for at least the last 10 years have been total shit. Why on earth would he want to be a part of that when he has his pick of the kind of roles he gets professional satisfaction from?

  29. FHMom says:

    He is a brilliant actor who knows his strenghts. Nothing wrong with that.

  30. SM says:

    Well, since the story of someone falling in love with Dick Chaney or his Mashinist carachter is very unlikely and he cleqrly admits he can’t act when he looks like himself, maybe that’s better he doesn’t do a comedy.
    What I find problematic is how he glamourises his physique on the Mashinist. Man, he looked sick and he talks like malnutrition is some higher form of existence, for one starvation also affects the mind and it’s clarity, so I have hard time believing him. I mean he was at the point he could not want a flight of stairs. Maybe he should look up malnutrition in developing countries ir read a book Red Famine about stravetion of millions in Ukraine by Stalin, so he would not romanticize starved human body so much

  31. MaryJo says:

    Romantic comedies are usually bloody awful and the idiotic premise that a woman’s main objective in life is finding the “right” man … OMFG!

    • Ksenia says:

      @MaryJo: Agreed. Maybe that’s why rom-coms (almost always created by male writers and directors) are called”chick flicks?” Vapid, unbelievable, patronizing, finding-one’s-soulmate glossy fare has never done anything but repel me. I mean, I don’t like the whole, happily-ever-after theme that permeates so much of Hollywood cinema in general, throughout almost all genres, but a rom-com is a special sort of ludicrous, I think. I can’t connect to the characters or to their situations, nor take any interest in them, they are usually such cardboard cutout, cutesy characters. (Then again, I’m Russian, so maybe just naturally cynical and bleak? lol)……I don’t think Christian Bale was being arrogant at all, he was simply stating the truth: that he has no desire to act in rom-coms. And if he think they are lesser than other genres, isn’t he allowed to have an opinion? Everyone else has one!) Also, maybe I have a VERY dark sense of humor, but I agree with him that “American Psycho” was funny. I thought it was horrifying, yes, of course, but it was such a satire of the stereotypically evil, financially successful, egotistical, high maintenance, materialistic male, that the ending really amused me. It was the first movie with him I ever saw, and I have liked him as an actor ever since.

  32. Harryg says:

    Well he’s not the type anyway, he has this predatorish look. I think he’s a very good actor.

  33. DiligentDiva says:

    Well his wife must be very happy he doesn’t do those movies.

  34. Laika says:

    Dafuq? Not starring in RomComs is about male fragility? Can we please stop with this false feminism nonsense. I’m a woman, and if I were an actress, I’d avoid romcoms like the plague. They’re full of ridiculous stereotypes about women and men, relationships, social connection and communication, and 99% of them are poorly wrriten.

  35. Millenial says:

    I don’t get why so many people crap on rom-coms. I feel the same way about people who crap on romance novels, chick lit, and adults who read YA, too, though. Some women just love watching/reading about people falling in love and getting (what is to them) a happy ending. Call it wish fulfillment/escapism, whatever, but I think it deserves respect. It certainly doesn’t escape my notice that these are women-dominated genres and genres dominated by men get much more respect (even from women).

  36. Some other name says:

    OK Laurie (Little Women) and Cowboy (Newsies). HEARTTHROB

    lol. I can’t see him in a romantic role really. He’s just an intense, serious, almost brutal kind of guy. I love him to death and I’ll see anything he’s in. But I think he’s smart to stick to what he’s good at. Has Daniel Day Lewis ever done a rom com?

    I do think about Reign of Fire (don’t laugh at me, it’s a guilty pleasure) and both he and Matthew McConaughey were in it. He came off as the sane one and Matt was delightfully unhinged.But Matthew is such a great rom com leading man. He really does have great range.

    I like rom com movies better than chick lit books, and I enjoy seeing pretty people fall in love in a cute and funny story (cough cough the notebook, the vow) but I do love me some oscar bait movies.

  37. bella says:

    Loved him in Laurel Canyon and I love that movie with Frances McDormand, and Kate Beckinsale. Lisa Cholodenko directed it.She also wrote and directed “the Kids are alright” with Julianne Moore and Annette Benning.

  38. Mina says:

    I love romantic comedies as a genre but it’s true it’s very rare to find a really good one, especially in the past 5+ years. A guy like Bale who thrives on emotionally and physically demanding roles would never enjoy making one.

  39. manta says:

    Why equating not desiring to act in rom-coms with thinking being above them?
    It’s maybe as simple as knowing what you’re good at, what you enjoy, what challenges you.
    As someone pointed out Day Lewis avoided them too. If snobbery is a factor, I would think it was for him more than for Bale or Di Caprio.
    And sorry, Keanu Reeves was appallingly bad in the couple of rom-coms I saw him in.
    John Wick or The Matrix suit him more.

  40. Jennifer Leader says:

    Christian Bale plus Amy Adams in American Hustle. One of the steamiest most romantic relationships ever portrayed on screen. That I’ve seen anyway. Who cares about the genre. He doesn’t care for that style of film. Who cares? I’m a potter. There are many styles I appreciate when I make my pots and glazes and many I don’t care for. Does that undermine me or my talent? No

  41. He’s definitely not an actor that springs to mind as a romantic comedy lead. IMO physically he is all that and a bag of chips and I’d love to see him in a well scripted rom com IF he had one bit of interest in doing one. He hasn’t shown any romantic range (in which romantic involvement is the driving narrative of the story) but if he were interested in it he’d work at it until he was absolutely convincing. But he’s not and I don’t think he’s being snobbish. I think he’s being honest about how he feels and I get the feeling that he pretty much says what he means. He’s respectful and straight forward which just makes me like him more.

  42. Kyra Wegman says:

    Seriously, WHAT did her do to his face?
    Also, Christian Bale HAS been in a romantic comedy. It’s a little offbeat for that category, but he was amazing in “Laurel Canyon.” The movie is just ok, but it has an amazing cast (Frances McDormand!), and he and Natascha McElhone do one of the sexiest scenes ever made and they don’t even touch.

  43. Dorky says:

    He looks exactly like Darren Aronofsky.

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