Did your feelings about the earlier Terminator films make taking this role a no-brainer, or was it something you thought twice about?
Christian Bale: “I enjoyed seeing the first one on video with a few friends. I really liked the second one. It had as much to do with the electric atmosphere in the theater when I saw it at 17, when I was first getting out to the States, and I'd never been in a movie theater that had that much noise and excitement throughout the entire movie. Initially, when I heard of this I thought [the franchise] was DONE, that there was no new story there to be told. Then I had the realization that I thought there could be something very good here. Then some people told me, ‘Yeah, you don't want to touch that.’ Then I thought ‘OK, I DO want to touch that because why are they saying that?’”
Did you have any hesitation about being front-and-center in a second major movie franchise simultaneously — something maybe only Harrison Ford has done?
CB: “Any planning that I have in my career is totally accidental, really. I tend not to fathom these notions until people like yourself bring them up for me. I certainly didn't have any doubts or concerns about that. It just became something that, over time, grew to interest me because I certainly wasn't interested to begin with. Then it began to interest me. In some ways that was another thing that some people were saying to me: ‘Why do you want to do that?' That made me go, 'I'm going to go do it now.'"
The action in the film is relentless. Was it a challenge for you to keep up, or are you used to it from your Batman days?
CB: “Everyone asks if it was tough physically, but I've gone through Batman, and that's way tougher. If you think about it — which I hadn't done before — you don’t get humans hand-wrestling Terminators. You're kind of lost by the time that you get to that situation. So it was really all weapons-handling, and I understand that. I don't find that too tricky. I don't look at this as something that was very challenging.”
How down 'n' dirty did you get when it came to all the action scenes?
CB: “I did pretty much all the stunts as I recall. It was a lot of jumping off things. But I had a good relationship with the stunt crew. I've worked with [the stunt coordinator] a few times, and so I trust him. I know that if I go jumping off a three-story cliff that they're not going to let me smash into the ground at the bottom. So I did a fair amount. Time constraints meant that there were times that we had to have doubles, just because we didn't have time to do it all. I don't really do any driving. I ride the motorcycle, but that's about it. I did that.”
Your director McG is one of the most energetic guys we’ve ever encountered. Is he like that ALL the time?
CB: “I think he's someone who probably drinks like a case of Red Bull before coming to work everyday. He's probably the most extroverted and very appreciative director. He loves rallying people. He loves involving the crew. It's a talent that might not sound like a whole lot, but it really makes a big difference when you see the crew being appreciated the way that he does and him really enjoying each of their jobs. He's a geek for the Terminator mythology. I mean, look: He's asking for trouble just because he calls himself ‘McG.’ He knows that. That's not news to him. So he's somebody who likes a bit of a battle, and I think he's pulled it off with this. And if given an opportunity, it can expand and become better and better with some future movies.”
You get to knock heads with Sam Worthington, who’s poised for big things after this film. What’s your take on him?
CB: “In a very casual sense, I asked that I at least be sort of consulted about who was going to be playing his character, and there were quite a few people that they were considering. I watched a couple of the movies he'd made, and I think he's a fantastic actor. I think there's the benefit that currently most people in the States aren't familiar with him, so you can really enjoy that performance that much more. He's got so many movies that are coming out because so many people have realized that he's bloody good — and he really is. He's a good guy and he's straightforward and doesn't behave like an actor. Once I'd seen his work and then met with him I said, ‘That's it. You've got to cast him. He's perfect.’”
Ultimately, what are you hoping audiences will take away from Terminator Salvation?
CB: “I hope that it will be a really fun, great movie trilogy if this one takes off and that we get to do a second or third, with me or not, whatever the scenario is. I think there is actually — in the hands of the right people — a real revival for this and an extension to an already good mythology.”
Next up for you is Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, with you playing lawman Melvin Purvis to Johnny Depp’s gangster John Dillinger. Sounds like a dream gig, no?
CB: “That was wonderful. Michael Mann 's got such a great approach to work, such great thoroughness and detail — and bloody ESP he has in terms of working with the actors. Yeah, it was one of my best experiences. [My character] is a hero, and very often when you get a hero, you get tragedy. It's true and I think the character is a fascinating one. It's not to say that the movie is about him. It's a supporting role. It's definitely about Dillinger, but I really became quite obsessed with the character because he was so interesting. It was very complex, what was going on with the birth of the FBI and the pain and there's mistakes made. There were a great deal of challenges that he faced being the special agent in charge of the hardest city for crime in America at that time. And all these guys were so young. I mean, 32 years old, I think it was, when he got Dillinger. And Dillinger himself was only 32!”
Give it up: When can we expect a Dark Knight sequel?
CB: “[Dark Knight director] Chris Nolan is a man of few words, and I just know that it's not really something that he loves when I go talking about it. That's probably why he just keeps me in the dark.”
Between Bruce Wayne and John Connor, you’ve mastered the art of playing characters who are under a lot of pressure.
CB: “Listen, man, I've got the weight of the world resting on my shoulders, so I know all about that!”