Christian Bale and Matt Damon cover the latest issue of British GQ to promote Ford v. Ferrari, or Le Mans ‘66 (as I think the film is called in the UK). Matt plays Carroll Shelby, Ford car designer, and Bale plays Ken Miles, the English racecar driver. They work together to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans and end up bringing about a revolution in American car design and manufacturing. The British GQ interview is just the two of them shooting the sh-t with the GQ guy, and nothing really controversial or scandalous happens. It’s just two dudes around the same age, chatting about their careers and how the industry has changed and all that – you can read the full piece here. Some highlights:
Damon was almost in The Fighter: “I was just going to say this one, because you’re so good in it. The Fighter. I read the script because I thought it was fascinating, but the script was not very good. And we had a different director at the time. And Mark [Wahlberg] really wanted to do it and was so excited about it, but we all knew the script wasn’t there. Then David [O Russell] came in, rewrote the script, got Christian, and it was awesome.
Bale on how Ken Miles is the character closest to who he really is: “That’s what Mangold said to me too! Like, someone who’s been called an arsehole throughout the whole film! I don’t know how to take that. He sent me the script. And you’re the last person to recognise any relationship to yourself. And after a while – I’ve known Jim for over a decade, we worked together back in 2006 [on Western 3:10 To Yuma] – he was like, “Christian, the character’s just you. Don’t you get that? It’s you, you difficult wanker!” That’s how he said it to me. “You know it already!”
Bale on his body/weight changes for roles: “We shall see. I’ve got to figure that one out. You start hitting a certain age when your aches and pains aren’t going away any more. You start realising you’re not bouncing back the way you used to.
Damon on doing the Bourne movies in his 40s: “I turned 45 on the day I shot a scene where we’re two bare-chested guys fighting in a warehouse. I was really in shape and middle-aged guys like me would come up and say, “What does it take?” And I’m just like, “Don’t do it. It’s not worth it at all.” For that movie, I was training hours and hours a day. But the fatigue just takes so much out of you. You’re constantly making micro tears in your muscles.
Bale on fitness: “When you’re younger and you get those micro tears you feel like, “Man, I’m really getting some control in my mind here.” And then at 45 you go, “What am I still doing this sh-t for?”… I used to love going on my dirt bike and I loved falling off it. Loved crashing. It was so much fun, coming back with blood pouring off your arm. Now, I’m like, “God, please. I can’t come off here now, because I know I might never get back up again.” [Laughs.] We’re sitting here like Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. We’re grumpy old men! We can’t do it no more!
Damon on a big project he turned down: “Jim Cameron offered me Avatar. And when he offered it to me, he goes, “Now, listen. I don’t need anybody. I don’t need a name for this, a named actor. If you don’t take this, I’m going to find an unknown actor and give it to him, because the movie doesn’t really need you. But if you take the part, I’ll give you ten per cent of…” So, on the subject of money…I told John Krasinski this story when we were writing Promised Land. We’re writing this movie about fracking. We’re writing in the kitchen and we’re on a break and I tell him the story and he goes, “What?” And he stands up and he starts pacing in the kitchen. He goes, “OK. OK. OK. OK. OK.” He goes, “If you had done that movie, nothing in your life would be different. Nothing in your life would be different at all. Except that, right now, we would be having this conversation in space.” So, yeah. I’ve left more money on the table than any actor actually.”
While I find Matt Damon exhausting and problematic these days, I kind of enjoyed hearing him bitch and moan about his body, with Christian Bale agreeing with him. Matt is 48, Christian is 45. They’re too old to keep doing all of that sh-t to their bodies! Bale especially, because it’s not like he’s only trying to maintain a buff physique – he goes from one extreme to another, losing 30 pounds and then adding 50 pounds, going from Dick Cheney pudge to MMA-fighter buff. It’s crazy to do that to your body and it’s not healthy. As for Matt turning down Avatar… “I’ve left more money on the table than any actor actually.” So weirdly braggy.
Cover and photos courtesy of British GQ.