Batman himself talks about the Dark Knight in this explosive interview.
When The Dark Knight was chosen as the title of Christian Bale’s return as Batman, no one could have predicted just how dark things would get. The death of Heath Ledger has given an even more sinister edge to his striking performance as The Joker, and left the movie as a whole with the kind of morbid air not normally associated with a comic book movie.
Fortunately, both as the Caped Crusader and as an actor, The Dark Knight has in Bale the kind of leading man who can cope with both sentiment surrounding Ledger’s death, and with making sure his last completed work is fully appreciated.
The 34-year-old Brit actor and Ledger were friends as well as co-stars and he had predicted great things for his pal as Batman’s demented clown-faced foe even before his untimely death from a drugs overdose. Ledger’s death has in turn done for Bale’s Batman what he was always determined to achieve since accepting the role in 2005. No longer is the hero a colourful comedy character armed with one-liners and camp catchphrases. Batman is now as dark as he ever was in the graphic novels and comics.
The new movie sees the character battling not only The Joker but deformed district attorney Harvey Dent, aka Two Face, and his own demons as tortured billionaire Bruce Wayne and his secret life as a vigilante crime fighter.
As a method actor, Bale admits it’s difficult not to take some of his latest movie’s dark themes home with him but thankfully a happy family life with wife Sibi and three-year-old daughter Emmaline help balance things out.
Here the man behind the masks talks about losing Ledger and how a new suit made being Batman a little less chafing this time around.
Q: Did you always intend to come back for another Batman movie?
A: “It was always said that we didn’t want to do a second movie unless we could surpass the first one and I think we have done that. We got the gang back from the first movie, and the new members were just as fantastic. Obviously we had Heath who gave an incredible performance as The Joker.”
Q: How do you think audiences will take his performance in light of his tragic death?
A: “I think they will see his performance and the character he created was exactly how he intended it. Heath did a superb job. He was so committed and gave truly a defining performance – one that I think people will remember for years to come.”
Q: What was he like to work with?
A: “Heath was a joy to work with. He fitted right in to what we were trying to achieve and that was to take the subject matter seriously because if we didn’t, why would the audience? He understood that. He was a unique man and because of that it was fascinating to watch him at work. He did one hell of a job on this movie and he is sorely missed.”
Q: So, what can you tell us about the plot for The Dark Knight?
A: “In this one Batman is very much someone who has matured somewhat. He has come to realise that his task of cleaning up the city is an infinite one. You get to see a man who is at the crossroads in terms of which he should take with his life, when he is faced with the anarchy the Joker represents. How does he deal with this villain who has no rules?”
Q: Why do you think Batman is so popular, bearing in mind he is a superhero with no superpowers like Superman or Spider-Man?
A: “I know for me I see him as being the baddest of all the superheroes. I think people like that. He is a flawed individual and all the more human for it.”
Q: The suit is such a big deal. I know for this one you had some input into its design.
A: “I did and I like this one very much, just for my own personal comfort (laughs). The changes they made for this suit in enhancing my personal comfort, it definitely meant we were allowing ourselves to do more. I mean I am more agile, faster, it’s lighter. There was still a lot of sweating but I have to put up with that.”
Q: Do you have to do a lot of training to prepare for Batman?
A: “There were a few new things I had to train for but it wasn’t like the training I did for Batman Begins. This time they knew I know my right from my left, that I can throw a punch and walk at the same time. There was a little more confidence in me because I pick things up quickly.”
Q: Do you ever take your characters home with you and drive Sibi crazy?
A: “Some of them do stay with you, yes. I think she liked The Machinist the best, because I was so calm and quiet (laughs). I think it was a nice change for her. She doesn’t like all my characters. But she sees it this way – she gets to live with many different husbands (laughs).”
Q: What do you do when you’re not working?
A: “I don’t have any real hobbies, although I love to take my dirt bike out into the desert. I’m actually very good at spending a lot of time doing absolutely nothing. I’m a master at that. Oh, and I love to sleep.”
Q: What are your vices?
CB: “I smoke on occasions. I love to smoke when I drink, but then I also love to go running like crazy and getting my heart pounding and gasping for air, and the two don’t tend to go well together. Running is actually a great cure for a hangover – I know it sounds hideous, but if you’ve got a bad hangover, just go and run like crazy. It’s hideous for a few minutes, but it does cure it.”
Q: How do you manage to stay grounded?
A: “I have enough people around me telling me I’m an ass (laughs).”
Q: Finally, is it true you are following in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s footsteps as the new Terminator?
A: “That is something in development right now that is attracting some very interesting and talented people. I can’t say too much more than that other than we are creating our own world and our own direction.”
‘The Dark Knight’ is now showing at Irish cinemas everywhere – Get movie times for your local cinema here on Movies.ie.