Given what I have said about actors in the past, it may surprise some that I am going to come to the defence of Christian Bale and the furore that is surrounding his outburst. But I’m going to: someone’s got to step in, and whilst there are – literally – thousands of people weighing into him with their fury (have you seen his Wiki page?), I am, I think, actually in a better position to comment. Why? Because, unlike all those other people, quick to bad mouth Bale, I actually know him personally: I worked with him on a movie for almost nine months.
But let’s backtrack. The evidence is there, is it not, of Bale behaving like a bastard? Well yes, it is: no one can deny those are his words and his voice on that tape (and by the way, he always speaks with that weird transatlantic accent: he moved to the USA when he was a teenager, and never managed to maintain his Welsh or British accent in the process). That aggression, that explosion of anger is there in all its aural glory and listening to it is quite sickening. But whilst Bale’s response seems despicable, it is being viewed completely out of context. None of us have any idea what happened on that set prior to this event: all we are hearing is his outburst.
For all we know, the Director of Photography (DP) is a complete dick. For all we know, he might have been walking onto set every time the camera rolled, ruining hundreds of takes. For all we know, he might have been doing this daily, over some months. Unlikely? Not so: I’ve seen this shit, and the patience of actors who keep their mouths shut whilst this happens is commendable. I’ve been on the other side of a camera and I know that when you’re performing –putting your heart and raw emotions on the line– in front of a hundred strangers on a film set, that process deserves not to be interrupted: it’s really fucking hard to get into that ‘creative space’ again.
I’m not saying that actors don’t have it easy, because they do: unlike crew, they get better paid, their own drivers, and generally do strict, union-approved working hours, so my sympathy for them is somewhat limited (and certainly is for the ones who treated me like a piece of shit on/off set). But on big budget films, DPs also get paid a fortune ($5k a week, anyone?), and many of them are considered stars in their own right, frequently calling the shots (literally) on set, so it’s not unheard of to witness a DP barking at crew and/or cast members in a similar way to Bale’s outburst.
Before people accuse me of being an apologist for a Hollywood A-list bully, let me be clear about one thing: I’ve worked with plenty of Hollywood A-list bullies and Bale is definitely not one of them. They say judge a person by how they treat their subordinates, and I can tell you, first hand, that Bale treated me –and everyone else on set– with respect, appreciation and gratitude. My job meant I worked up close with Bale every single day, so I’d greet him at 5.30 in the morning, prior to him having his first coffee of the day, and I’d see him off last thing at night. We worked long hours, long weeks, and even longer months and not once did I see him raise his voice, get angry, or pull a strop on the film set floor – although many other people (crew and cast) behaved in this way. Unlike some actors I’ve worked with, Bale is incredibly down to earth, and does not resort to pulling rank to get his way. So I find it amazing that people are jumping to an absurd conclusion that Bale is a stroppy, spoilt brat, on the basis of one freak out.
Yes, his outburst was way over-the-top, and yes, that type of offensive language and behaviour does not belong on set. But without being there and seeing the events leading up to it, judging Bale purely on this out-of-context outburst is short-sighted, I think. Knowing him, knowing what he is like, both as a performer, and as a person, I’d say that he would have had to have been severely provoked for him to flip out like this, so I suspect that the DP had been ruining shots for a while, and Bale finally lost it. But then, what do any of us know, right? None of us were there at the time.
Anyway, I’m just a sexblogger who once worked in the film industry. The only thing that makes me unique is that I can say I have seen Bale in underpants, in the flesh.