REIGN OF FIRE
Q&A with Christian Bale
CHRISTIAN BALE is QUINN
The premiere of REIGN OF FIRE in Dublin was a real family affair for you, wasn't it?
CHRISTIAN BALE: My mother and gran were there, which was nice. It was also nice for them to experience how bizarre an occasion like that is. Unless you have been there you don't get how freakish the whole affair feels.
Did you have any reservations about working with CG dragons?
My initial thoughts were that it could have become a special effects project rather than an acting project. I was a fan of mythology, through books mainly. I really liked CLASH OF THE TITANS as a kid. These kinds of movies tend to be B- movies and you can enjoy that. But that was not something that I wanted to take five months out to make. I worried that it might end up with the people in it looking a little bit foolish. Also there is how the dragons are going to look. CGI is an incredible thing but I've seen them use it disastrously many times before. I saw the artwork for it and talked with the director Rob Bowman. There were many problems with the initial script; Quinn's character was something of a lightweight at that time. Rob said it was completely open to what I wanted to do to that character. He was adamant about not wanting the characters to be bland, action driven characters. He wanted to try and stick in some kind of human interest. I'm always also kind of attracted by movies where there is a real challenge and a real possibility of it going really badly wrong. I have realised that I do like that idea because I have done a few movies now where I thought that this could easily slip one way or the other. There have also been movies where other people have said to me 'You are nuts for doing this? Why would you risk doing this?' And I have kind of realised that I enjoy that really.
So what is your love/hate relationship with acting?
CHRISTIAN BALE: Firstly, I started at a young age and some of my memories that I think of as my life are not my life. They are scenes that I was in. It is a very sad state of affairs. I will find myself having dinner with people and someone will mention something and I will say I was in that situation once. Then I'll say, forget it, it was a scene I was in. That can get to be quite confusing.
How did you act frightened of dragons that weren't there?
CHRISTIAN BALE: I have had directors before to open your mouth wider. But Rob wasn't like that at all. Of course we were looking at nothing but to me it wasn't that different from any other kind of movie that I've done. It is all pretence; it's all fake. It's just that some movies are more fantastical than others. I didn't want to approach this any differently from any part I play. I don't think that there is an actor alive who can't look at something and pretend that there's something else there. It's all about the denial of the reality of your surroundings.
What about the head butt from Matthew McConaughey during the big fight scene in REIGN OF FIRE?
CHRISTIAN BALE: When I got the head butt I kind of hit the deck. It dropped me like a sack of potatoes. I saw that in the movie I crawl around the ground for a couple of seconds and try to find my bearings. Then all I thought was 'Yes! That's going to look great!' Then I thought I had to get up off the ground and finish the scene, otherwise it was going to be no use. So I got up and finished the whole thing. I could see in my peripheral vision that the film crew were staring to see if I was all right. Then when we finished I ran over to Matthew and asked if he was ok. He said "Yeah you mad bastard, I head butted you".
You were born in Wales, which has the dragon on its flag?
CHRISTIAN BALE: I'd love to be able to tell you that it is in my blood and that I'm a true Welshman, but I'm really not. I was just born there. There was something romantic I found when people first started writing 'Welsh actor' because I had never felt Welsh in my life. I'm English I think because I grew up in England. I was out of Wales when I was one and a half. But there is a great tradition and I always liked Richard Burton so I thought it was great when I was called a Welsh actor and it stuck.
So now are you still English or more American?
CHRISTIAN BALE: I have been in America since I was 17. I obviously stand out in America, purely because of my accent. People are never going to mistake me for being American. But I am kind of rootless really. Even when I think of England there is no place that I think of as being my roots. There was no town that I was in for long enough or liked enough that I want to consider it my roots. I also never stayed in any place long enough to have any long-lasting friendships. So I adapt very easily to wherever I am.
Did you go out much in Dublin when you were not working on REIGN OF FIRE?
CHRISTIAN BALE: I am not a big social animal, especially when I am working. I feel really silly acting in front of other actors if I feel I know them too well. I don't like having family come and watch me on the set. They really know me and when I'm acting they can see that I'm doing that. I don't want people to be able to tell how much I am acting. We went out in Dublin a few times and Matthew had parties at his place but most of the time he was down at the boxing gym - sparring and just hitting somebody.
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