Christian Bale in Esquire: Should his attitude cost him an Oscar?
Christian Bale is undeniably a phenomenal actor. But the celebrity thing? Well, he doesn't care for that so much.
In an interview with Esquire magazine that recently arrived online and will appear in the magazine's December issue, Bale makes it clear just how much he hates the entire interview, movie promotion and general talking-about-himself process that his career often requires. Steve Pond of The Wrap is already asking if this attitude could cost him an Oscar nomination for "The Fighter." But really, should it?
Before delving into that question, let's provide a little taste of that interview.
When Esquire writer John H. Richardson -- who shows remarkable determination here -- tells Bale he doesn't like being forced to write his profile in a Q&A format as the actor often requires, this exchange ensues.
BALE: You don't like that?
ESQUIRE: No! I don't like being told what to do.
BALE: I'll tell you why. Basically, it's somebody who got stuck having to interview me who really wants to be a novelist, so they're writing these novellas and I was like, "It's not true, that didn't happen, they just made all that up! Why don't they just go ahead and be a novelist instead of bothering with interviewing me?"
ESQUIRE: So you want to be perceived accurately, but you also don't want to give any details. You realize that those two things contradict each other.
BALE: No, it's simpler than that. I want to be able to just act and never do any interview, but I don't have the balls to stand up to the studio and say, "I'm never doing another interview in my life!" So I tip my hat and go, "Okay mister! All right mister! I'll go do the salesman job!"
ESQUIRE: And you don't want to talk about your personal life or family background either.
BALE: Look, I've got incredible pride for my family. I've absolutely fallen into that cliché of a dad who could just happily talk about my daughter endlessly. But it's not what I'm about in terms of being an actor. I don't want people to know about that.
ESQUIRE: Why not?
BALE: I don't want people to know me.
ESQUIRE: Why not?
BALE: Because that buggers up my job.
The interview unfolds like this in several stretches, leading the average reader to conclude that Bale is more than worthy of that diplomatic word often used to describe pain-in-the-butt actors: "difficult."
Clearly this is hardly the ideal approach from an image-branding perspective, especially if he's trying to recuperate from the whole rant episode, not to mention his arrest in 2008 for allegedly assaulting his mother and sister, charges that were subsequently dropped. (That Esquire headline, "Christian Bale May Kill Someone Yet," definitely is not going to help.) But as someone who respects Bale's immense acting talent, part of me says: Hey, keep handling things however you need to if it allows you to deliver such strong performances.
Pond's suggested possibility that Bale might miss out an Academy Award nod (criminally, Bale has never been nominated) because of his failure to always play nice is not surprising. But if that actually happens, it also would not be fair. The Oscars, like everything in life, are very much about politics. We all know this. But they are supposed to be about the performances.
At this time last year, Mo'Nique, who went on to win the Oscar for Best Actress, also was making some wonder whether she'd screw up her award season chances by not happily glad-handing at every film festival and industry event normally attended by statuette coveters. Clearly, that didn't hurt her at all, a fact she praised Academy members for during her acceptance speech. "I would like to thank the Academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics," she said that night, as she clutched her well-deserved stautette.
The same rules should apply to Bale -- and any actor or fillmmaker -- too.
Could the Dark Knight perhaps stand to lighten up a bit and play the interview game more graciously? Absolutely. Based on that Esquire interview, does he appear to lack some sense of perspective? Uh, yeah. But that doesn't make me think less of his work. In fact, that singular sense of focus on his art may be what makes him such a consistently great actor, even if it doesn't exactly endear him to journalists or, perhaps, the public.
What do you think? Does Bale need to get nicer, or at least use his considerable acting skill to make us think he's nice? Or are his performances enough to speak for themselves? Post a comment and share your thoughts.
| November 18, 2010; 1:45 PM ET
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