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(Credit: Harald Krichel)

Film

Christian Bale names the movie that has brought him the most joy in his career

Few actors are as decorated as Christian Bale. After his breakthrough role in Steven Spielberg’s 1987 movie Empire of the Sun as a 13-year-old boy, Bale went on to star in some of the best-loved films of the 21st Century, kicking off with his portrayal of the downright insane Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.

Bale showed his versatility in the years to come, taking the titular role in the mentally explorative 2004 effort The Machinist before performing in the coveted role of Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and the biographical dramas The Big Short and Vice.

However, despite the various big-name films that Bale has featured in over the years, he has also taken on roles that were potentially outside his comfort zone, in movies that arguably, did not need a ‘big star’. The Machinist, it could be argued, is one of those films. Another came in the voice work Bale did for the Studio Ghibli anime film Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), where he played the titular wizard, Howl.

A further ‘small’ titled role that Bale took on actually ended up being the film he enjoyed doing the most, as the pressure of being a prominent name in the industry was not present during the film’s production. It came in 2006’s Rescue Dawn, directed by the acclaimed Werner Herzog.

When asked in an interview to name the film that brought Bale the most joy, he said: “I can’t help but immediately think of various experiences with Werner Herzog on Rescue Dawn. With us, Werner included, doing things that everyone was looking at saying, ‘But guys, you’re going to die! What are you doing? You’re going to really catch a wild snake and maybe get bitten by it!’ Those are great times. These crazy helicopter pilots in Thailand taking off the tops of trees as we were flying so low over the jungle; those times were great for me. I just enjoy them monumentally.”

“Often, I have found that movies are actually disappointingly sterile environments,” Bale added. “The more you get away from the studio lot, the better. The further away from the location you get the more you stop making the movie as an answer to other movies. […] That’s when I really feel like you start getting into some good, nice, dangerous situations. Whether they are dangerous in terms of where you’re going mentally or physically – I do enjoy that. I’d get bored if I didn’t have the prospect of knowing that I’ll get to work with people in the future who are like-minded and who really want to push it.”

Rescue Dawn is an American epic war drama which was adapted for the big screen from a documentary that director Werner Herzog made in 1997 named Little Dieter Needs To Fly. It concerns a United States army pilot’s battle to survive after his plane is shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War.

Bale admitted that doing a ‘smaller’ movie like Rescue Dawn allowed him to be part of a production process where the pressure of a big budget was off. He said, “With the bigger movies you have hesitation because there are many more people involved in what will eventually come out on the screen. With a smaller movie you have less people being nervous about investments, so less people are trying to steer the movie in a certain way. I feel that with the bigger movies you have to generally sit back and assess it more. You have to try and work out what point you will able to achieve.”

“You don’t have all this nonsense of people calling you a movie star and stuff like that,” Bale added. “I don’t feel like that at all. People started offering me these roles that are thought of as ‘movie star’ roles, but I try to make a character out of it. I never felt myself to be that and I never really had any desire to be that.”

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