Producer defends Christian Bale’s tirade on Terminator: Salvation set

Over the weekend, an audio clip was leaked that featured Christian Bale laying into a cinematographer on the set of Terminator: Salvation last summer. The guy who drew Bale’s ire had apparently interfered with a scene he was shooting. Bale dropped the F bomb 40 times in nearly four minutes. He was clearly angry, and he did threaten the guy once, saying “I’m going to kick your ass.” Bale then tried to temper it by saying “you’re a nice guy” and generally focused his ire on his scene being ruined, saying he had never worked with someone so unprofessional.

Now people close to Bale who knew the details of that moment are speaking out. They say that Bale was filming an incredibly intense scene, the most emotionally draining and powerful moment of the film, and that the cinematographer was screwing with the lights right when Bale was working. This is definitely unprofessional and the guy needed to be called on it. To take this moment out of context and air it repeatedly is not fair to Bale, according to some who were there:

Terminator producer: Bale got interrupted during the most intense scene in the film

Bruce Franklin, an assistant director and associate producer on the film, told E! News that Bale is a “consummate professional,” adding, “If you are working in a very intense scene and someone takes you out of your groove … It was the most emotional scene in the movie and for him to get stopped in the middle of it … He is very intensely involved in his character. He didn’t walk around like that all day long. It was just a moment and it passed.

“This was my second movie with Christian, and it has always been a good experience with him,” Franklin, who also worked with the actor on “Shaft,” added. “He is so dedicated to the craft. I think someone is begging to make some noise about this, but I don’t think it’s fair. The art of acting is not paint-by-numbers, it’s an art form.”

Franklin also spoke with TMZ, calling the blowup a “non-event” and saying, “Christian is a method actor and was completely immersed in his scene … his reaction was from the heat of the moment.”

He also told the site that despite Bale’s threats to have him fired from the film, Hurlbert was not fired and he said that Bale was under a lot of pressure due to his intense promotion schedule for “Dark Knight.”

[From MTV, thanks Dizzy!]

Ain’t it Cool News: The guy was messing with the lights during the hardest moment to film, Bale had warned him about this before (mild spoilers)

The scene in question, was a very emotional and tough scene between Christian Bale and Bryce Howard. A scene that required soul bearing and a deep level of immersive concentration. The sort of scene where everyone on set knows not to get in anyone’s eye lines, and definitely not to move lights around while FILMING. You lock that shit down before the scene starts.

Bale had indeed warned the DP on multiple occasions about messing with lights while the cameras were rolling, and Bale was in the midst of a painful scene with Bryce, what was described to me as being the emotional center of the film and his character for the film.

Now, the reason I know all of this is because the person that was there, felt that it should be made perfectly clear that Christian Bale was the utmost gentleman and cool guy on set. And the DP really was doing something that professional DPs with experience just don’t do. Not during a performance.

You don’t need me to give you a link, it’s all over the internet, I just felt that you should know what really went down – and that this particular outburst did indeed modify the DP’s behavior – and for future DPs. F*ck with the lights before and after your actors are acting. Not during.

[From Ain’t It Cool News]

When this clip first came out many people thought it might be the evidence that Bale was verbally abusive to his mother and sister. He was alleged to have lashed out at them verbally in late July in London, around the time of the blowup on set. It’s hard to know what happened, or who was at fault, but the truth is often more nuanced than you can tell from a single audio clip. You wonder though, as Kaiser mentioned, if people would be so quick to forgive an actress for an angry tirade as they are an actor.

Christian Bale is shown out in Brentwood on 12/27/08. Credit: Fame

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54 Responses to “Producer defends Christian Bale’s tirade on Terminator: Salvation set”

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  1. daisy424 says:

    “…but the truth is often more nuanced than you can tell from a single audio clip.”
    There are always two sides to every story.

  2. Enonymous says:

    Of course the Terminator producer Bruce Franklin and the studio will make excuses and down play Bale’s action because they have their future ticket sales to think about for the movie and if people don’t like Bale then they might not want to go and see the movie, so this is just damage control for Bale. Blame everyone and everything else other then Bale, just like they did last summer when he had to promote The Dark Night.

  3. orion70 says:

    As loud and angry as this guy sounded on that clip, my first thoughts were
    a)he was joking (because of the way his voice cracked a few times)..then
    b)that he was still in “character” in an intense / angry scene.

    While this doesn’t necessarily give the guy the right to tear everyone a new one on set, I don’t necessarily know the “dark” places people have to go in their minds to get into character for intense scenes…so what do I know. Getting into that groove can’t be easy, otherwise we’d all be raking in the $$$ acting. I imagine it’s not somewhere mentally you’d be able to stay all day, so I can sort of see why, if you got there, someone interrupting your groove while you were blowing up at a fellow character, there might be a little fallout.

  4. Jim says:

    You can’t be too mad at bale, hes a star, they are going to be a little testy, maybe it has to do with the intensity of the scene, but regardless, he gets paid the big bucks and doesn’t want to waste his time reshooting scenes.

  5. geronimo says:

    Don’t care about the circs, never thought it had any relation whatsoever to the fall-out with his mother/sister; bottom line, you don’t speak to people like this. There are ways of making your feelings known, and ‘in the moment or not’, this speaks volumes about the type of person he is. I love him as an actor but this was vile.

  6. Ash says:

    Eh…love ’em or hate ’em? Nah, I’ll settle in the middle. He’s an actor, it’ll happen, but that was pretty fierce for my taste.

  7. j ferber says:

    I have to call bull on all the excuses for Bale’s behavior on set. What we have here is an arrogant, abusive bully who felt entitled because of his star status to mistreat another he felt was beneath him. Reminds me of Russell Crowe’s bad behavior before his career was hurt by his loutish actions. As someone else once said on this site, there are a lot of hard jobs in this world, but being a movie star isn’t one of them. Can you imagine if you or I raged at a co-worker or assistant the way Bale did? He gets no pass from me. And the “you don’t know the context” comment is lame. Unless the guy did something really horrible, like hitting a child on set, Bale’s response was overblown and diva-like. And forget the “intensity of the scene/he’s an artist” nonsense. As a human being he must be held to the same standard of conduct as the rest of us.

  8. Dorothy says:

    I can’t believe that people are making excuses for this a**hole!

    jferber has it right!

  9. Macy Lu says:

    love christian bale!

  10. meme says:

    This is not unusual behavior in Hollywood.

  11. I Choose Me says:

    It was still one hell of a tirade but like I said before you can’t judge a person on a couple of outbursts, especially if you weren’t there.

  12. StrawberryFairy says:

    Who cares if it was the “most intense scene of the movie!” There is NO excuse for laying into someone like that. No one was dying, he wasnt performing brain surgery and shame on these people for making excuses for this dude. If youve had a long day, take a nap, have a midol, have a seat! I cant stand actors and entertainers these days. They feel like they are superior to everyone else. I liked Christian Bale at first, but now theres no way I’d want to see any of his movies after this. He should be ashamed.

  13. xxx says:

    He’s hot but really needs to eat something these days.

  14. Sparkle says:

    And now begins the spin to protect the studio’s multi million dollar investment. Clearly the DP has to assume the position under the bus . . . .

  15. MT says:

    Did he kill somebody or used drugs instead of doing his job?

    Yes, he sounds upset over being a professional.
    The supporting crew is supposed to be supportive, not disruptive and anybody would have been upset.

    I actually give him points for being such a devoted professional that takes his job so seriously.

    Many actors misbehave and no one says a word, so when someone that good of an actor goes awry a bit, I think it’s onlt human.

  16. WonderUrs says:

    You hear stories about this kind of behavior all the time. Unfortunately, if a female star did this she’d be called a diva and treated like a pariah, whereas he gets crap for it for a while and it will blow over soon. It was ugly but could have also been worse, compared to some of the really racist rants that keep making it onto the internet.

    Incidentally, someone with a sense of humor put Bale’s tirade to music and mixed it into a video on YouTube.

  17. Codzilla says:

    “Devoted professional” my ass. He’s a mean-spirited prick whose behavior is indefensible.

  18. Codzilla says:

    Sparkle: Spot on assessment.

  19. Jess says:

    He’s a jerk. I don’t understand why movie stars (and you’re right, probably actors more than actresses) get to behave differently than the rest of us. He’s filming a freakin’ movie – not in the middle of life-threatening surgery. As an attorney, I’ve had many stressful days at work where millions of dollars are on the line and people make screw-ups – I don’t start screaming and cursing. I love celebrity gossip so I guess I’m part of the problem but I think the world is really screwy when such outrageous behavior is excused because he’s an actor.

  20. lisa says:

    Sounds like the usual cover-ups. Bottom line, CB acted like a jerk and got caught.

  21. Jean says:

    The abusive, personal nature of his diatribe against the director of photography is indefensible. He should have taken his issue to the director.

    That said, if, as the whole story goes, Bale had asked the photography director several time previously to stop tweaking the lights during the take, then the DP’s actions also are indefensible.

  22. MoJo says:

    It would depend on the actress, wouldn’t it? Were it someone with no real record of diva-bitch behavior, who clearly took their work seriously and who had talent, I don’t think she’d have it as bad if it were, say, Jessica Alba or Lindsay Lohan.

    I think it’s unfair that people are judging him on this one moment which is practically an anomaly in his rather long career. It wasn’t the greatest reaction, but geez, why try to tear down one of the best actors of his generation when none of us are much better in our day-to-day lives? It’s not as if he was tearing someone’s head off for looking him in the eye or not fetching his latte on time.

  23. OXA says:

    He is a nasty egomaniac and there is no excuse for his behavior.

  24. barneslr says:

    The other guy clearly messed up, but a four minute, expletive-loaded tirade is inexcusable. I don’t care if it was the most intense, pivotal scene in the movie. That does not excuse the way he spoke to that guy. In fact, the guy may very well have a valid lawsuit on his hands; I know if my boss spoke to me that way I’d be chatting with my lawyer about threats and about a hostile work environment.

    In other words, no, you cannot talk to people that way. Even if you are angry.

    Bale has proven that he is just another egomaniacal tool.

  25. McKenna says:

    These excuses are pathetic? This is what abusive husbands do after they hit their wife. “She asked for it”…I don’t care how intense this scene was, you don’t go on a tirade because someone messed with the light in the middle of filming. Stupid move on the DP’s party, yes, but that is not an excuse for this type of a**hole behavior. What is he going to do if his kid does something bad? Beat her up?

  26. FF says:

    I don’t know, this guy’s a method actor and all method actor’s who’ve had to play intense characters on screen have been not happy-go-lucky on set. As I’ve heard it Bale – and some others – have to stay in that character and mode the entire time they’re filming and it’s hard for everyone, including the actors themselves.

    I’ve just observed sometimes actors get called overbearing or full of it and they’ve all been method and playing intense characters at the time.

    I’d say the problem – if there is one – with Bale is that he seems to play A LOT of those types of characters. I really think he needs to play someone with a laid back demeanor just to even things out.

    And seriously, messing with the lights during filming is just a big no-no.

    Trust me, if it’s Bale’s anger issues firing up, there will be a third incident – to be sure. It’s just really hard to tell with method actors where they are and where the character begins.

  27. sparklea says:

    Oh Mojo, I beg to differ. I certainly do not act like that in my real life and if I did, I certainly would not have a job. People’s careers rise and fall on this kind of shit in the real world. If he’s such a professional, then he should behave in a professional manner. And we wonder why there is so much entitlement in this industry. Not to mention that it makes twice now that this guy has flipped out and behaved in an aggressive manner and it makes twice that it has been somebody else’s fault.

  28. sparkle says:

    ^Sparkle . . . not Sparklea 😉

  29. Enonymous says:

    Christian Bale is playing in a bloody Terminator movie, it is not exactly the next Schindler’s List and I doubt he will win an Oscar for his ‘method acting’ for this one anytime soon because if that is the case then Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Oscar is way long overdue.

  30. oomba says:

    he’s yucky. not a cool guy.

  31. Ned says:

    “why try to tear down one of the best actors of his generation”

    I totally agree. Actors that are far less talented than him acted worst and no one even talks about it.

    Yes, he raise dhis voice, but becuase he demanded to be treated like a diva, mind you, but rather becuase of a screw up of his scene.

    Jen Garner had her co- star fired not for not being professional or screwing up, just so she won’t have to feel bad seeing a guy she cheated on and dumpted once she got a bigger star.

    So CB didn’t do it in a manipulative way and behind the back and for professional reasons.

    Yes, he raised his voice. Are all the people bashing him never raised their voices?
    Never felt like a colleague destroyed a day’s work and thought that guy should be fired?

  32. sparkle says:

    “Yes, he raised his voice. Are all the people bashing him never raised their voices?
    Never felt like a colleague destroyed a day’s work and thought that guy should be fired?”

    This from the person who becomes the morality police and has spasms over the mere mention of Angelina Jolie . . . .

  33. Carrie says:

    Seconding what a few people have said. I am a stage manager and work with actors and directors and others with “artistic temperament” and this really is not that unusual. It’s something you accept when you get in into my side of the profession (physical violence excepted) and you get good at talking people down. Sometimes an apology follows later in the day (1 time I got a gift certificate to a liquor store!), sometimes you don’t get an apology. I wouldn’t be suprised if Bale was completely mortified by his behavior later in the day. “Method” actors are particulary prone to this sort of outburst, especially in the type of situation described here. Sometimes they have a legitimate complaint, more often they are blowing off steam. But honestly, in my career I’ve seen more directors lose it than actors. In my experience, it hasn’t abused me or made a “hostile work environment” or hurt me in any way. It doesn’t really have much of an effect at all. “Like water off a duck’s back” is our motto. You wait for the person to pull it together and everyone gets back to work.

  34. dinotopia says:

    for all the people who are comparing this to their nice, placid, structured office lives, it’s kind of an apples to oranges comparison. his job, at that moment, was to be intense, high strung, and angry. and that’s what he ended up doing, unfortunately at the wrong person. i don’t act any more, but i can tell you that the physical and emotional toll on an actor – a REAL actor, not someone who stand around and looks cute – is enormous. i was rehearsing a monologue once, a very angry one, and my teacher kept pushing me farther and farther and farther until i started screaming and throwing shoes and kicked a hole in the wall. not the first or last time someone did that in that room. another time i was doing a scene where i was pleading for my life. to up the intensity the directors were pelting us with nerf balls. worked really well until one hit me in the face. suddenly, i was convinced i was going to die, and couldn’t remember why any more. i cried hysterically for about 10 minutes. acting takes you to a very very hard emotional place while you’re in the scene. if you get pulled out of the scene you suddenly have emotion with no context. it is one of the weirdest and most disconcerting things that can happen.
    Bale is shockingly centered for a former child star – he took a few years off of major projects after the success of empire of the sun because he hated the attention. yes, he owes the man an apology – but one fairly understandable outburst does not the next russell crowe make

  35. dinotopia says:

    ooh second what carrie said. i actually switched to stage management, and that’s pretty exactly what it’s like. the ones who are actually nice people tend to apologize and make up for it somehow. and even the sweetest, most tractable actors flip out sometimes.

  36. FF says:

    ps – to Enonymous, Bale’s not playing a terminator/cyborg, as Arnie was – he’s playing John Connor. Significant difference, imo.

    If you’re in any doubt to potential intensity, just check out what Linda Hamilton had to put herself through to play Sarah Connor.

  37. NotBlonde says:

    For those who have never been on a movie set or in a rehearsal room or on a stage with actors while they are acting: your opinions on the matter, I’m afraid, do not matter.

    You think your job is stressful? You think your “multi-million dollar deal” is stressful? Try acting in a film where your performance is what determines whether or not the studio loses at the very least for this film, $100 million.

    A DP should know not to mess with the lights during the scene. You do that shit before or after, but never ever ever during. You think a DP would be pleased if an actor reached up and moved the lights during a scene? Wasted film and time and money?

  38. kate says:


  39. Sparkle says:

    “For those who have never been on a movie set or in a rehearsal room or on a stage with actors while they are acting: your opinions on the matter, I’m afraid, do not matter.”

    Um, I beg to differ. We are all entitled to our opinions of this particular jackass just like we are entitled to have an opinion about every other jackass that appears on this site. And as a lawyer, I find that damn near everybody in the world has an opinion about my job so damned if I’m not entitled to my opinion as to how someone behaves on theirs. As a matter of fact, I work on multi-million dollar deals and it is my judgment and performance and that of a very small number of other people who determine whether or not my client’s deal will close and/or whether said client will be exposed to millions in liability because my dumb ass didnt check that the disclosure was accurate. Its called a profession and almost all professions entail a level of stress. Actors are not special just because they have to “go to a dark place” in order to do a scene. What if Mr. Method Actor is still in that dark place when he gets home — is he to be excused for beating the shit out of his wife? Somehow I dont think so. Every person is entitled to be treated like a human being — even when they screw up.

  40. Sparkle says:

    And FYI — 100 million is a drop in the bucket for the deals that I see in my line of work — trust.

  41. orion70 says:

    XD just to bring a bit of humour to this post…. this is too funny:

  42. Enonymous says:

    FF, Whatever the small difference is, my point is that kind of movie can be done by anyone, so all these ‘method acting’ Bale is using, no one will really care because most people want to see the robots to be honest. Bale should save his method acting and all that stress for a better purpose.

  43. Enonymous says:

    Sparkle, I completely agree with everything you said.

  44. Jenna says:

    He can yell the Eff word to me all day. ;D

  45. carta says:

    Um, Mojo, when has Jessica Alba been known for behavior that disrupted the set? Define diva behavior – and please don’t pull out some story you heard that she was rude to someone in a store. I mean, actual disruption of work caused by her. Cause there isn’t one and your example makes no sense at all. I don’t understand how someone who’s never had a DUI, never gotten fired from a job, always works her ass off to promote her movies gets lumped in with Lindsay Lohan. Because she doesn’t smile in paparazzi pics sometimes? Whatever.

  46. NotBlonde says:

    Sparkle the point is that your job is different than this one. You can have an opinion about it, it’s just that people will dismiss it if you don’t have any experience with whatever you have an opinion about.

    I’d bet dollars to pesos you completely ignore anyone who has an opinion about your job that you think is incorrect.

    Christian Bale has a lot to deal with and a lot of stress and he dealt with it probably not in the best way but there is no way you can tell me that you’ve never gone off on someone for any reason. People reach a breaking point and as we have virtually no context for why this happened, all outside opinions, including mine are kind of moot.

    Anyway, I can understand why he would be pissed. I don’t particularly like acting, nor do I want to do it for a profession, but I’ve done plays and being in that acting zone takes massive amounts of concentration and someone messing about where they shouldn’t be would piss anyone off.

  47. santacruz says:

    …actors that take themselves too seriously are such a turn off…

  48. FF says:

    Eponymous, it’s that kind of thinking that limits the genre. I want to see a good performance AND the robots. It’s why I wasn’t keen on McG being the directer. I’d feel safer in the hands of someone with an established form like Cameron. McG just is yet to break out of ‘the guy who did Charlie’s Angels’ in my mind – even if or maybe particularly given that he had a hand in Supernatural.

    I don’t think it’s too much to ask to raise the bar on a sci-fi or horror film. Even Robert Pattinson had to be ‘talked down’ on set because he was so involved in playing Edward that he was getting tricky to direct.

    It’s not themselves that actors take to seriously per se, it’s what they’re trying to achieve. I’m sure they know at the end of the day there’s more than an element of the ridiculous in their job but I’m still glad they take their work seriously enough to be bothered to put something true to the character on screen. After all, if they’ve been cast it’s not just them on the line. A lot of people end up out of jobs if a film tanks: directors, crew, writers. You’re as good as your last movie in Hollywood.

    While I wish Bale had reigned it in, I do understand what could have made his response so overblown.

    So in short, yes I’m all for taking *the part* seriously in a genre that requires seriousness – sorry, but he’s not doing comedy.

  49. nony mouse says:

    put this in context – someone gets upset with someone at work for messing up TWICE and has a go at them. It’s all over in a couple of minutes.

    but oh no. it’s the end of the world as we know it.

    the internet – a waste of good photons.

  50. Tag says:

    “cinematographer was screwing with the lights”
    Press agents often fabricate events in order to generate news about a movie, and there are some unrealities in this story that lead me to think this is a fake. First, on union movies, cinematographers don’t touch the lights. That could be a serious union issue, about as bad as touching the President’s daughter. You’d have to be completely crazy and never want to work again. So, I don’t believe it. Also, there is only one “cinematographer” or the Director of Photography, the rest all have specific titles, such as “clapper/loader.” “Cinematographers?” C’mon… Also, I find it totally unbelievable that the “cinematographer” would leave his camera to adjust a light during a take. If you’ve ever seen a movie crew in action, that’s about as believable as a machine developing awareness and deciding to exterminate humans.

  51. Lisa says:

    He probably started yelling at them to make them stick up for him. lol.

  52. mimi says:

    I just read this book by Malcolm somebody called “Blink,” basically about cognitive psychology, how we process information quickly and unconsciously. One chapter discusses the brutal behavior of police officers after a high speed chase when they catch the suspect. He suggested that this out-of-control behavior is almost inevitable because the fight or flight center of the brain is going crazy and overriding more rational responses. My guess is that something like this was going on with Bale too. He was in the middle of an emotional, maybe violent scene, his heart rate already revved up, his fight responses in overdrive, and his rational brain couldn’t recover in time to save him from making an arse of himself. I’ll bet he is bewildered and mortified when he hears this tape now, in a calmer context.

    From what I’ve heard about the guy, he’s decent to reporters, likes to stay to himself, is crazy about his kid and has managed to hold his marriage together for a number of years. I say, leave him alone and move on.

  53. Steve says:

    Yea he got pissed off, and yea it was a dick move. But who hasn’t flipped out before? I mean, I hear a lot of people saying “my work is stressful and I deal with it” but you don’t really. Sure you may hold it in at the time, but eventually someone is going to pay. Anyone who claims to have never blown up at another person is either a saint or lying. This situation is only a big deal because he is famous. If he weren’t it would be just another dude going off on an angry tirade, which is a rather common occurrence.

  54. Bruce says:

    ‘For those who have never been on a movie set or in a rehearsal room or on a stage with actors while they are acting: your opinions on the matter, I’m afraid, do not matter.’

    Are you insane? As the viewing public our opinions matter more than anyone’s, far more.

    There is absolutely no excuse for what he did. Calling someone out for making mistakes even in anger is something we all do at times. But there is a big difference between snapping at someone and a four minute tirade.