The Dark Knight’s Christian Bale Talks Heath, Batmobile and More

Christian Bale’s back as Bruce Wayne and his alter ego Batman in the summer blockbuster, The Dark Knight. caught up with the star to find out what it was like returning to the role. So, how was it literally stepping back into the Batsuit?

Christian Bale:

Literally stepping back into it was much more comfortable than the first time. It’s a much more advanced suit than the original one…At first I was fighting against the suit to do all of the fight sequences, this one was actually compatible with the Keysi fighting method. I could move my head. It was heavier than the original, but just so much more motion. I could breathe properly inside of it, it didn’t squeeze my head like a vice throughout. So I had to act the rage and anger this time around.

HW: Then the other side of it, not so literally, how was it returning to the character?


Very easy, you know it’s the first time that I’ve done that, third time I’ve worked with Chris Nolan and the crew and cast members so we know each other well. Chris was not just treading water, you know he was not going to make the movie unless it was going to be better than the first one and given more to do for each of the characters. Really, far less pressure than I felt with the first one. 

HW: Does it hurt your throat to do the Batman voice?


Not anymore. On the first one, it took me a while to really get accustomed to it but it’s like riding a bike. For the second one, I could just switch on and off any time.

HW: There’s a point in the movie where The Joker says to Batman, “You complete me.” Is that true with actors too?


Yeah, very true, and with directors as well…I love that dynamic between The Joker and Batman, he completes him in a sense that he finally has a really worthy challenge, a worthy opponent, that challenges him in a way that nobody else ever has. Yeah, with other actors, but I found that [connection] with Heath [Ledger]. His immersion into the character makes it incredibly easy to work opposite and up everybody’s game.

HW: How would you describe your dynamic with Heath?


I felt a real enjoyment. I was almost kind of chuckling inside and I didn’t want to let it show when we were doing our first scene, which was in the interrogation room and I saw what he was going to do with it, and I felt I recognized the satisfaction he seemed to be getting in the pleasure from the role to be similar to the satisfaction that I get from acting as well. I felt very comfortable working with him.

HW: Did you bond?


The guy was wonderful company and when he took off The Joker stuff he was Heath again. He was wonderful company.

HW: How much time did you spend in harnesses?


I do all of the fight sequences myself, although I do have a fantastic stunt double who is a great mixed-martial artist, but it wasn’t necessary. I was very much familiar with the Keysi, so I could do all of that myself. I mention the Sears Tower, I don’t consider that a stunt, but it was more of an experience that I wanted to have. The Hong Kong stuff, any of the things where he is flying into a concrete pillar at 30 miles per hour, if he jumped off a five story building onto a car – hey look, I hand that over to Buster [Reeves]. That’s what he does well and I am happy for him to do that.

HW: What did Harvey Dent add to the story of The Dark Knight and why was Aaron Eckhart the right person for the role?


He is this rival in terms of Rachel, unknowingly to Harvey Dent, to Bruce because of that, but at the same time, probably more importantly, somebody Bruce sees as the answer to be able to make Batman obsolete and to be able to put this Batman creature to rest and get on with his own life and stop sacrificing that. Like he says, if there can be a hero with a face the Batman is not needed any longer. Aaron did a wonderful job with that. He has such a distinctive chin, I looked at him often and wondered if he would look better inside of my get up, but it would probably be a giveaway for Bruce Wayne with that dimple [laughs]

HW: Did you do any of the driving at all or was that all doubles?


On the Batmobile, this one no, completely George Cottle. He’s a wonderful driver. I mean, I did drive it, but I didn’t drive it on film I would just race up and down. There’s a Lamborghini in there, you know, oh I had to go practice on that for many hours [laughs]. I would have to learn how to do the 180s on that, it was really essential. The motorbike as well, I spent days just roaring up and down, all I had to do was pull up and get off it. I insisted it was absolutely necessary for my preparation…The Batpod, that was an embarrassing challenge. I have to admit that there’s not a single moment in the movie I am in control of that thing. There was only one man, Jean-Pierre Goy, world class biker, who was able to control that and not fall off.

HW: Was it because of the wheels?


It’s essentially because they’re huge, the wheels from the Tumbler. I ride motorbikes, but there were world class bikers who were getting on this thing and coming straight off of it. I had to recognize at that point I wasn’t going to manage it either. So whenever you see me on it, it’s still an adrenaline rush, but I am getting dragged behind another vehicle. It’s embarrassing to admit, but I have to give kudos to Jean-Pierre for being the only person in the world who was able to master it.

HW: So, would you want to do this again?


That’s up to Chris Nolan, the answer is up to him.

HW: Do you have a three film contract?


Yes, however, I just can’t imagine doing this without Chris. He’s created this completely so I hope that choice will be his.

HW: Then there’s another pretty iconic role you are stepping into as John Connor in

Terminator Salvation. What kind of research did you do for that?


In a similar fashion to what Chris did with Batman Begins, in the reinvention. With Terminator – clearly it’s not an origin story – as with Batman Begins we were saying this is the first story, we’re ignoring the others. Terminator, no, you have to recognize the mythology that’s already there. But, it’s our responsibility as the filmmakers and there is no point in making it if we’re not going to evolve it, revitalize it and reinvent it. It needs that, it has to happen, otherwise it won’t be successful from a creative point of view.

The Dark Knight opens in theaters July 18, 2008