Christian Bale: ‘There’s no middle ground on the Internet. Just extreme feelings’

Christian Bale

Christian Bale covers the January issue of Details to promote Out of the Furnace (which looks really good) and American Hustle, which is prime Oscar bait to the max. In an odd twist, Christian decided that the best way to ugly himself up for this role (because that’s his “method”) was to gain weight and wear a wiglet. Usually he loses tons of weight while aiming at Oscar gold. Man, his metabolism is going to rebel one day.

The Details cover is amusing because Christian is all, “Don’t look at me. I’m such an artist,” but the interview is surprisingly friendly. A few years ago while promoting Terminator: Salvation, Bale developed a reputation for railing against his press duties. He’d often embark on a rant during a feature interview, including the time he went off on a GQ journalist for asking him if he ever wanted to do comedy. He subjected the poor journo to a speech on how he hated pushing product as Bruce Wayne; he was so mad when they put “stuff, goo, in his hair, okay?” Then he kept insisting, “I can’t stand havin’ my photo taken. Can’t f—in’ stand it. What I’m tellin’ you is that I will not ever be a model. If I’m ever modeling, you’ll know I really f—ing need the money.” This particular discussion came at about the same time that the infamous set freak out hit YouTube.

Bale has grown up a bit since then. He talks a lot here about his habit of “uglying” up for a role, but insists he’s not an overly sensitive artiste any more. Bale also dismisses the internet backlash against Ben Affleck as Batman:

On his “brave” combover in American Hustle: “Hey, I hope I’ve done braver things. But it’s certainly bold, isn’t it? [Laughs] I’ve always been fascinated by the dynamics of those things, though that was something we invented. I don’t know that anyone has ever done it precisely that way, with glue.”

On his character’s beer gut: [Laughs] “I ended up with a herniated disk, which was a combination of the extra weight and slumping a lot. It’s my own fault–nobody asked me to gain the weight. I just saw Irv as being a bit of a rolling ball, full of momentum.”

Why does he play “nut-jobs” for David O. Russell? “We both love them, and I love the ideas he comes up with, and he seems to enjoy mine. We have a very humorous and at times poignant relationship. We can knock each other senseless–not physically, metaphorically–and still want to get up and give each other a hug at the end of the day. We can disagree in a way that two people who respect each other can. And when it feels like a true partnership, you do. I never had brothers. I grew up with women around me always, but what I saw of friends of mine who had brothers–man, they could have the worst fallings-out, but they were always right there for each other. Sometimes I’m calling him crazy, and sometimes he’s calling me crazy, but it’s never a straight and easy path that leads to good shit. I almost talked myself out of American Hustle.”

On pulling his “finger out of his ass” and taking the role: “I like doing whatever I’m doing, you know? I’d like to never work again if I could–who wouldn’t? But once I start working, or most of the time, anyway–there have been exceptions, believe me–I think, ‘Oh, right, now I remember what I like about this.’”

On picking a role: “It’s all over the map for me, to be honest. I’d say inconsistency is something I enjoy. But sometimes it’s the character, sometimes it’s the director, sometimes it’s the script, and sometimes–holy sh-t–it’s all three! And sometimes you just want or need to work, you know? Looking back over the films I’ve made, it’s been every reason under the sun for doing them.”

What role is closest to his own identity? “I’d be the worst person to tell you that. I barely know what color my own eyes are. I get kind of blind when I’m looking at characters. Other people point it out, and I go, ‘No, no, that’s a character, there’s nothing of me.’ But of course there always is. The idea is to bring nothing of yourself, but it’s probably impossible. I stay awake at night worrying about it.”

On the business of Hollywood: “I’m a f—ing awful businessman. I got no idea how to sell a film. I don’t know why people want to see certain films. But it’s a strange brew, you know, because I don’t feel like an artist or anything–there’s way too much business involved in this whole thing for that. But equally there’s way too much creativity for this to be like any normal business.”

On Ben Affleck’s Batman backlash: “Somebody pointed it out to me. Look, there’s no middle ground on the Internet. It’s just extreme feelings. They love you or abhor you. Ben knows that, and I doubt if he spent one minute worrying about it.”

[From Details]

Someone’s had some press coaching, right? He’s a lot nicer (and a lot less “smartass”) in this interview than he has been in the past. I have a feeling Christian would be a lot happer if he could act in a vacuum — lose and gain weight for his all-out roles and win peer-based awards but not worry about selling films to the general public. That’s not how it works, obviously, and especially when he signs up for blockbusters like his Batman movies. Bale is a magnifent actor, I’ll give him that. Despite all of his gimmicky weight tricks, he always brings a character to life.

Here are several American Hustle stills. So much bad hair, so little screentime.

Christian Bale

Christian Bale

Photos courtesy of AllMoviePhoto & WENN

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51 Responses to “Christian Bale: ‘There’s no middle ground on the Internet. Just extreme feelings’”

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  1. Lydia says:

    God I love this man. Can’t wait to see American Hustle.

    • Liv says:


      How can someone who looks that good look so funny? Can’t get over his character in American Hustle! ;-)

  2. MonicaQ says:

    “Look, there’s no middle ground on the Internet. It’s just extreme feelings. They love you or abhor you.”

    Or to sum up the internet as my brother does: “STOP LIKING WHAT I DON’T LIKE!”

  3. Mom2two says:

    I think Christian Bale is a huge talent, who knows if he was going through something at the time of both his GQ and Terminator freak out. The press coaching or mellowing with age suits him. I do agree with him about the internet, though.

    • Kate says:

      @Mom2two; I do too. I know there have times someone was picked for a role and I was like oh well. I’m not going on the internet trashing the person. I found the backlash that’s still going on with Affleck amusing. It’s a done deal, gotta move on because it’s not going to change. There must be a good reason we’re not casting directors. I never understood going on an artist IMBD or social media page trashing them. If you don’t like them, why are your there.

      • mom2two says:

        I agree with you Kate. I can’t say that I was thrilled that Affleck got Batman, but I’d like to see him in the role before releasing my final judgement. And the backlash with the complaining and the petitions is ridiculous.
        I’m sure that if Hollywood saw my casting ideas for films, they’d be like, “Oh my, she must be on something!”

    • Samtha says:

      That was my thought, too–he seemed to have been going through family issues at the time (wasn’t that when the whole thing with his mother and sister happened?), and who knows what else was happening in his life.

      Fatherhood and age will mellow a lot of people out, too.

    • Lucinda says:

      People forget that was around the time Heath Ledger died. He was filming Terminator when Ledger died and then he had to promote the Dark Knight which I’m sure brought it all up again. I think he’s a guy of intense feelings anyway but he was being asked to be okay when he was mourning the death of a friend. I really believe that played a big part in the meltdowns.

  4. Patricia says:

    That was his real body and a real weight gain?! I thought he had plumped up a little to fill out his face and then wore a prosthetic gut. This guy is totally committed to his roles, in a way I see him as very giving for that reason. He will give his body over completely. Oh and saying that makes me wish he would give his body over to ME. He’s my #1, since the minute he played Laury in Little Women. At this point he is literally the only man besides my husband I swoon for. So that’s my extreme feeling!

  5. Sel says:

    I really like him in this interview. Maybe those past tantrums were just a phase. Or there was something else in his life that contributed to his behavior at that time. I like this mellowed version of him. And I really like that cover.

  6. Side-Eye says:

    Gah, no one can tell me anything about Christian Bale. I’m on my phone and can’t send the link but there’s this really adorable video of him calling and having the sweetest convo with this boy with leukemia and….

    Besides that, the man apologized a longass time ago and Idk why it’s even brought up. He’s such a great actor..

  7. PinkParasols says:

    His personality is so off-putting (just a few levels below Kanye TBH) I find it hard to watch his movies now.

    • fingerbinger says:

      He is one of those actors that you have to seperate the person from the work. Christian Bale, Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Leonardo DiCaprio, the list is endless of great actors with douchey personalities ,but you put it aside to appreciate the work.

      • Emily C. says:

        I don’t. :P I don’t watch movies with people I find appalling in them — I have better things to do with my money and time, thanks. There are plenty of non-douches out there who can act and need a break. Why do we keep putting up with these jerks? Though as far as I know, Bale isn’t as bad as DiCaprio.

      • balehead2012 says:

        @fingerbinger What? Nooo, don’t call him a douche :) Not Bale!
        Honestly, he is my absolute favourite actor and can do no bad in my book, but well, everybody is entitled to their own opinion, so I’m going to give you a pass :)

        On another note: I don’t think he has had any press coaching, I think he just feels more comfortable in his skin now, maybe more relaxed since he won the Oscar, so naturally he is friendlier and more open to journalists. Having such a great career now, with very strong and well played films coming out he is in a good place in his life right now and that shows in his interviews too.

    • yoyo says:

      Totally agree – I like Christian as an actor a lot … until I hear or read one of his interviews. OMG he is really obnoxious and up his own *ss. Ugh. Note to self: do NOT read anymore Christian Bale related news or articles.

  8. bns says:

    Hot cover.

    He’s right about the internet lol

  9. V4Real says:

    “What role is closest to his own identity? “
    American Pyscho!

    He used to come off as a raving alcoholic who needs a drink to calm down. I have always had a thing for Bale and I still do.

    Notice how he didn’t say how he felt about Ben playing Batman. No need to say it Christian, we can read between the lines.

    • Tapioca says:

      There’s an American Psycho MUSICAL now – just starting in London, starring the last Doctor Who as Patrick Bateman. I swear I’m not making this up!

    • don't kill me i'm french says:

      “He used to come off as a raving alcoholic who needs a drink to calm down” ???

      • MorticiansDoItDeader says:

        There’s an Evil Dead musical too, so I can believe they’d make an American Psycho musical.

    • Sarah says:

      I don’t think in that instance we can. If he wanted Batman, it was his. He turned down boatloads of cash when so many others have succumbed. (I am looking at you, Depp and Downey Jr.) And he also campaigned to get Casey Affleck to play his younger brother in Out of the Furnace. So I don’t think he has any problem with the Afflecks.

  10. Miss M says:

    I love him since Empire of the Sun. Great actor!

  11. My Monkey says:

    Richard Armitage should have been chosen as Batman! did you know he was briefly short listed for the role? oh it would have been glorious!

  12. M says:

    I love this guy. I have a crush on him since Little Women.

  13. Ashling says:

    I watch anything he is in. He’s an amazing actor.

    • V4Real says:

      I even loved him in Shaft. He was the racist antagonist but all I could think about was how hot and bangable he looked.

      • stellalovejoydiver says:

        haha, me too, I also had so many inappropriate feelings during American Psycho.
        The car scene in Laurel Canyon tops everything though.

  14. Happyhat says:

    What do you call it when Batman doesn’t go to church.

    Christian Bale.

    My fav. internet joke…

  15. don't kill me i'm french says:

    actually the cover is a 6 years old pic from Mark Seliger

    Bale gave a very good 30 min minutes (always to interview Bale when he’s jetlagged)

    • Sarah says:

      That’s why the picture looked so familiar! Yes CBale hates getting photographed – he has mentioned this many times. So of course the mag had to bust out an old picture.

  16. matia says:

    Jon hamm was also in the running to be batman and I think he would have been a better pick than ben affleck. My husband is a nerd and he is not impressed with the batman and wonderwoman castinga for this movie.

  17. annaloo. says:

    I loved him most when he visited the victims of the Aurora movie theater massacre .

  18. GlimmerBunny says:

    So. Freaking. Hot.

  19. Emily C. says:

    ” Look, there’s no middle ground on the Internet. It’s just extreme feelings. They love you or abhor you.”

    That’s a complete non-answer. Totally coached and political. You could say it about anything: “People hate this recipe” “People on the internet either love or abhor you.” “People hate Scientology” “People on the internet either love or abhor you.” “What about the criticism that Twilight is sexist?” “People on the internet either love or abhor you.” And so on through literally everything it is possible to have an opinion about.

    Slimy, dude.

  20. lucy2 says:

    He’s probably my favorite film actor. I’ve seen almost everything he’s done, and he’s just so incredibly talented and committed. I’m really glad that even after huge box office success, he’s still taking interesting roles in smaller films. Looking forward to both of his new ones.

  21. MsAubra says:

    I NEED for DC to get the early release date of American Hustle. It looks like its going to be a good one! His body of work is WAY larger than I thought, I caught “Harsh Times” on youtube, Bale is that dude!

  22. Sarah says:

    Okay Bedhead, why is it a gimmick? So he does everything to get into his character – what’s wrong with it? If he didn’t, he would be accused to phoning it in. It seems like he can’t win either way. And it’s not as if he goes around trying to get a pat on his back for his dedication. The guy barely gives interviews and has never promoted himself ever.
    And Oscar gold? Come on! If there’s one actor in Hollywood who doesn’t gladhand for the gold statue, it’s him. He never did any promo work or attend any of the industry even for The Fighter and I don’t see him doing those things this year either.

  23. I Choose Me says:

    Love him. What is that phrase people often use? For me Christian Bale can do no wrong. Love him for the awesome actor he is and he will always be on my Freebie list.

  24. lenje says:

    Press coaching or not, he’s one of the most genuine actors I know. Pretentious? Nope, it’s just him.

  25. Lark says:

    He grew on me, and I think it’s kind of a shame he has no chance in hell of getting a nomination this year. Glorious hair lol. He’s an example of learning to separate an actor from their real life personality, or remembering that people are often complex and the greatest artists can also be the greatest assholes. I do think he grew up (or got off coke) because he seems a hell of a lot less ragey.

  26. Josephine says:

    He is one of the best working actors out there. But as with most actors and celebs, I really rather not hear them speak. This interview seems pretty innocuous because it sticks to questions about the movie, questions he can actually answer. Interviews that drift into other issues always make the actor or celeb look like idiots, and usually like arrogant idiots.

  27. Blackbetty says:

    I’ve loved Christian Bale since American Psycho too