While AFI Fest opener Love & Other Drugs (check out its naked stars below) failed to yield much Oscar buzz, the fest’s surprise screening of the The Fighter (here’s the TOH review) boosted the prospects for Christian Bale’s performance as the crackhead brother to Mark Wahlberg’s punchy welterweight. It remains to be seen what the impact on Academy voters will be of John H. Richardson’s lengthy and entertaining interview in Esquire with the Batman star, entitled “Christian Bale May Kill Someone Yet.” From Newsies to The Machinist, this actor–who admits to having never seen Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story or Breakfast at Tiffany’s—is as intense in real life as he is on screen. Straddling the line between pulling teeth and Bale’s attempts to resist definition, Richardson asks Bale about the risks of being misunderstood:
BALE: I don’t care. Being misunderstood is not a bad thing as an actor. I know the truth.
On his “Art”:
BALE: Art is something to be proud of. Art is no compromise. As an actor, you’re giving it up, you’re at the mercy of so many other people. So are you truly reaching the lofty goals? No, of course you’re not. And there are some movies where that was never the aim anyway.
You know, I’ve been doing this quite a long time. It doesn’t make me feel special. But I actually love it more for the reality of how it is done, the sinew and the bone of how it’s really put together.
On resisting Method acting:
BALE: I’m not on a couch having therapy. And it’s very limiting if I have to be able to relate every damn thing in somebody else’s life to something that’s happened in mine. At the end of the day, I’m faking it. Pure imagination, and it’s only phony if you don’t go far enough with it. You can become obsessive and it can get to the point where you’re almost losing yourself. You’ve become a vessel. And holy shit, things start happening. And I’m hating the way I’m sounding right now, because I sound like a tosser, but that’s my secret ambition.
On being a non-self-centered actor:
BALE: It’s the opposite of self! It’s actually saying, “I don’t stand a chance being myself. I’ve gotta create somebody else in order to communicate. If I remove myself from all of my own memories and inhibitions and create another character — holy shit! I can reach out and communicate in that way.” So to me, it’s actually about trying to fucking destroy the self, and then you might be able to hit something. There’s some quote, I think it’s Oscar Wilde, “An artist puts nothing of himself into his art.”
On why he chose the unnamed Los Angeles 5-star hotel for the interview:
BALE: ‘Cause it has nothing to do with my life. I never come here, ever. It’s as far removed from any place that I would ever go to. And that’s exactly why I chose it. ‘Cause it has nothing to do with me.
What’s better than a picture of two naked celebrities on the cover of Entertainment Magazine? Three, apparently.