Thanks to Dina.
Thanks to Falco San as well. :)
The new buzzword is: restraint.
In Hollywood there is a man who interprets this new social feeling. In terms of thought and style. He ranks first among the most elegantly and simply dressed, he fights for civil causes, he lives in a modest house. We have seen him interpret Batman and we shall be seeing him in the new Zhang Yimou epic. The Oscar winner has a word with Style: always know how to laugh at yourself, but never at what you do.
The star of two of the most eagerly-awaited films of 2012 — the next Batman and the first Sino-American epic production: The Flowers of war, directed by Zhang Yimou — plays the roles he chooses in an extreme and chameleonic manner. He lives a rather austere life and admits that he feels embarrassed when he sees photos of himself in mannequin poses (notwithstanding the Giorgio Armani clothing) for his Bruce Wayne, alter ego of Batman in The Dark Knight. Christian Bale, 38 years of age on January 30, is the prototype of the star in a post-glamour world, in which austerity is do rigueur and prima donna behaviour prohibited. Neurotic, elegant, able to maintain a salutary aloofness with regard to the brand names of the cinema with which he is connected, such as Terminator or Batman, and capable of committing himself passionately to the minor films to which he is most attached. Such as The Machinist for which he lost more than 27 kilos or Harsh Times in which he plays the part of a war veteran affected by Gulf War Syndrome, or Rescue Dawn in which his favourite director, Werner Herzog, dragged him lo the swamps of South-East Asia.
With his wife Sibi Blazic, former actor's assistant working in the field of production, and his daughter Emmaline, born in 2005, he lives in Santa Monica, in a simple house that has never been photographed: not a huge mega-villa, but a comfortable, essential home, cluttered with piles of essays, scripts and novels. Among the cherished ornaments, his Oscar lakes pride of place. Won with the greatest of pride because it was given to him for his role as best supporting actor in one of those small, courageous independent films — The Fighter— in which he so deeply believes: he was unforgettable in his interpretation of the ex-boxer Dicky Eklund, drug addict and coach to his half-brother Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg). A fine accomplishment, in 2010, for a professional career started almost 30 years before: in publicity as a child, in Wales where he was burn, and on the wide screen since 1987 when, at the age of 13, for the Empire of the Sun, he became a star under the expert guidance of none other than Steven Spielberg.
In The Flowers of War you play the role of an American mortician who finds himself in Nanking, the capital of China in 1937, in the midst of the atrocities and massacres perpetrated by the Japanese. He disguises himself as a priest in order to save (along the lines of the book by Yan Geling The 13 Women of Nanjing) a large number of people, especially women, female students and prostitutes who took shelter in a church.
It is not a political propaganda film that has wormed its way into movie territory, but a courageous narration of a forgotten episode of the Second World War, as stated and explained in the book by Iris Chang, The Rape 0f Nanking. One of the many that I have read about this misdeed.
The director himself has told that, when he came to visit you at home, your table was strewn with books on the events tackled by the film and that this convinced him of your enthusiasm.
I loathe the fast food cinema as much as I love studying history, stripping away legends and analysing the facts. We live in times in which everything seems to be a question of money and vanity. But I am interested in the human side of things, in human encounters in life and on the set.
How do you like to live?
I like working on a film in which I believe and which, as a spectator, I would like to see. I like pampering myself with life’s little luxuries. You know, like sitting in an armchair and reading a good book that you have bought yourself with joy — by this I mean a book that you have purchased for yourself, to experience and not to display on a coffee table. Or like listening to a piece of music that touches the very bottom of your heart. Music is extremely important for me and I think it has the power to reach the masses more than the cinema. When I was a boy, I want to become a guitarist.
Is it possible to be a star and live in a restrained manner?
In my choices, I focus on variety and curiosity, and fight against sterile vanity.
You are a reluctant megastar: you do not expose yourself much as a person.
I am against the mad desire of today’s world to dig into other people’s lives: I speak through my work. I don’t go to the cinema much, I go shopping with my family. Even my beloved motorbike is not a Porsche to be shown off.
Why this passion for motorbikes?
Being on the road and leaving everything behind you makes you feel fast, solitary and fully in control of something that is yours.
Would you consider being a model or a testimonial: for many actors, it is almost a second profession.
I would really have to be badly in need of money to do it, but even in this case, I think I’d choose to do something else.
What is elegance for you?
It is what makes you invisible.
What is the worst temptation of all?
To succumb to vanity. It would be the exact opposite of the personal comparison with human nature which I experience through my work as an actor.
And yet you regularly appear on the lists of the best-dressed actors...
I dress to suit my taste, I like dark colours, I often use black shirts and dark ties. Having said this, I don't like the press asking me what brand of clothing I wear.
Let’s sum up: at the Oscar ceremony, you were wearing a Gucci dinner-jacket, other times you wear Prada outfits and sports jackets...
Everybody makes choices, but I try to focus my efforts on being genuine. I think it is possible to improve every day if, as my father used to say, you have the ability, every day, to educate yourself through experience, even in little things.
How do you choose your clothes?
Instinctively. I don’t like the ostentation that derives from being richer new than you once were.
As a megastar, everyone envies you. Do you feel entitled to throw tantrums?
I don't think so. Young people today are no longer enchanted by models of success hyped by business and publicity. Sometimes I have made mistakes. But I think it is embarrassing to behave like a star, and that applies to everyone. Including these who are presumptuous and domineering in the office, or in polities.
Has being a father substantially changed your life?
I acquired a sense of the absolute, something you feel you could do anything for : live, kill and die for. I used to like the idea of not having maps of my life, but I have learned to control this and to reserve the challenges for my work.
You were a close friend of Heath Ledger, the actor who died of an overdose in 2008, at the age of 28. Do you seek in male friendship?
An exchange, never rivalry, and I like people who have obsessions, passions, people who do not always want to be in the limelight. Heath really was a lovely person, he loved his daughter dearly and he spent his life seeking answers. He was nothing to do with the commotion that broke out after his death. Nobody ever really is a cartoon superhero, even although superheroes are all the rage today.
Batman is a superhero par excellence...
For me he is an anarchist and a free spirit. He knows that there are parallels between him and his enemies because life is never stable — you always have to fight for it. Keeping in mind that it may never be boring and that nobody is obliging you to behave like a superhero and to always have your muscles flexed and bulging.
You tend to be considered the superhero of vegetarians and animal-rights supporters: you are an active supporter of Greenpeace, the WWF, the Animal League, Redwings Sanctuary, you work for the adoption of gorillas and fight against all kinds of animal abuse. Why do you speak so rarely about this?
I’m not a showman and I feel that during these times of crisis what is needed is authentic commitment, not media exhibitionism.
Your commitment towards nature and animals is very deep-rooted, and also biographical....
Yes, I moved around a lot during childhood and adolescence, I grew up in a family of socially-committed, creative artists. Ventriloquists, conjurers.... for a while my mother worked as a circus clown, and we all went through odd jobs.
How can an actor, who makes-believe for a living, find integrity?
I managed to find it through some of the films in which I most believed. The Machinist was fundamental for me as I lived in a state of isolation in that role for which I lost weight by denying myself all temptation from food, alcohol, bottles of beer. If you don’t take yourself seriously, but you take seriously what you do, you become strong and you maintain your sense of humour.
What could help us today to regain the sense of the essential?
The ability to spend time with people who believe in real emotions without self-interest or vanity, while perhaps maintaining a sense of adventure in life. My father, David, was a pilot, an activist and an adventurer; for me, each film is an adventure. Remember, when I say “I don’t want to speak about it, it’s too personal”, that not everything is on sale. And people should always remember that I am not Batman: I just play the part, that’s all.