Yesterday an audio clip was brought to my attention that has been popping up all over the internet recently. It's about four minutes of Christian Bale administering a verbal beating to the 'Terminator Salvation' director of photography Shane Hurlbut for adjusting lights during a take last July. Listen to the clip below to hear a conniption fit that makes Bill O'Reilly sound mild mannered.
Sure, being distracted from your work can be bothersome, but I couldn't help but hypothesize other reasons for this outburst of Hamlet proportioned humors. Here's what I came up with:
1. After beginning his career with Steven Spielberg and having the more than respectable Christopher Nolan as his most frequent recent collaborator, he was working for McG, whose most notable accomplishments are the Charlie's Angels films and getting away with being called 'McG.' (this hard-nosed director can be heard in the clip controlling the situation with contributions like "I didn't see it" and "fair enough")
2. He was working on a dying franchise while promoting his starring role in the biggest franchise alive right now.
3. He's playing a character made famous by Edward Furlong.
4. In recent years, the actor has put his body through drastic treatment for his roles. Most famously losing over 60 pounds to play 'The Machinest' in 2004 before bulking up for the first Batman film, and again shedding all his muscle to play a POW in 'Rescue Dawn' before becoming Batman for the second time. This physical yo-yoing must take its mental toll as well.
5. In Bale's defense, the assistant director and associate producer Bruce Franklin (presumably the same Bruce Bale tells to "shut the fuck up" during his rant) has said "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." Clearly he mistook the director of photography as a T-800 machine with no feelings.
6. His mother and his sister were currently pressing charges against Bale for verbal assault. Though I see how this could be upsetting, lashing out in front of tons of recording equipment was probably not the best way to deal with those woes.
7. Actors are generally emotional people, it's part of the job. I can never see myself getting this outwardly angry at someone, but I also can't summon all those other emotions on demand the way a talent like Christian Bale can. To do what he does, you need to be passionate, and being passionate will lead to the occasional freak-out.
8. Perhaps he was inspired by the Apatow bunch, and it's all an elaborate ruse. If so, man that guy can fuckin' act!
9. Not to get all sentimental, but as I already mentioned, this was apparently recorded in the same week 'The Dark Knight' was released, an occasion that was supposed to be shared with co-star Heath Ledger. The performance was garnering (and obviously continues to) much acclaim, and his friend wasn't around to reap the benefits of his hard work. This couldn't have been far from his mind.
10. Maybe Bale is just a prick.
Seriously though, Christian Bale has been one of my favourite actors for years, I'm glad his career has taken off and it's too bad stuff like this has to taint our image of him (though I will watch video of this if it ever surfaces). I thought he was a great choice for Batman because I believe that he comes closest to matching the tunnel vision and commitment it would actually take for Bruce Wayne to make his transition. Ever since his first film role at 13 in Spielberg's 'Empire of the Sun' his skills as an actor have been praised, and he's continued with multiple breakthrough performances such as his brilliant turn as 'American Psycho' Patrick Bateman. Along with Jeffery Wright, they completely stole the film as the baddies in 'Shaft' (underrated movie). All this to say, it's no wonder the guy has an ego, takes his work seriously and suffers the occasional emotional flare-up. I don't know what David O. Russel's excuse is.