The delicious awkwardness of interviewing Christian Bale
The business of writing celebrity profiles can get pretty predictable -- full of "Celebrity X greets me at Chateau Marmont with a nonchalant smile just south of enviable vintage Ray-Bans," and other cliche tales of cozying up to big stars promoting their latest projects.
Which is why the Ministry was thrilled to see the curveball in this month's Esquire magazine, starring the casually uncooperative and often brilliant Christian Bale.
Making the rounds to promote "The Fighter," Bale leaves no room to guess if he enjoys being the subject of cover stories or any other sing-for-your-supper obligations typical to movie stars.
Writer John H. Richardson discloses Bale's ground rules -- only Q&A format, please, with no personal questions.
"Everybody talks about the process too much. The interesting thing about a movie is the movie," Bale declares.
Richardson tries to probe him about the career decisions of certain filmmakers, to which Bale responds, "Why are you worrying so much about everybody else? Let's start looking at you for a minute, all right?"
They tango back and forth about what it means to be interviewed, Bale's historic guardedness and the legitimacy of previous profiles of the actor.
"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?" Bale said of prior coverage.
Awkward. So does Bale hate the would-be novelist? The mechanics of publicity? His own image?
"I want to be able to just act and never do any interview, but I don't have the [guts] 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!'"
While his chat makes for an interesting read (and a welcome surprise in a categorically fluff-filled space), Bale is certainly not the first actor to express the sentiment. In 2005, GQ magazine gave Cameron Diaz the rare opportunity to read her profile before publication, then correspond back and forth with the author on how she felt she was captured.
Bale and Richardson wasted no time writing letters.
"I do love people ripping ... me. I don't know what that's about, but I love it. The more crap you give me, the happier I get," he admits.
Which is perhaps why, after some hard questioning, Bale gives in and plays ball, revealing his love of fatherhood and his latest obsession -- the inflatable bounce house.
"Yeah, it's a whole different party circuit that you find yourself in," he said of life with his 5-year-old daughter.
"I love the bouncy-castle party circuit right now."
Perhaps there's some light in "The Dark Knight" after all.
-- Matt Donnelly