All Christian Bale wanted to do was tell a guy thank you, he said -- but instead he got roughed up by a pack of apparent security guards and chased away from the home where a Chinese dissident has been held under house arrest for months.
"What I really wanted to do was shake the man's hand and say thank you, tell him what an inspiration he is," Bale said after the incident, which concluded with his party's van being chased down the road by guards who jumped into their own vehicle and followed for more than half an hour.
"The man" Bale referred to is Chen Guangcheng, a self-taught lawyer and activist who has worked against China's methods for enforcing its one-child policy -- think forced abortion and sterilization. According to World Now, he has been kept under unofficial house arrest with his wife, mother and young daughter since September, when he was released after four years in prison related to charges he said he was not guilty of.
It was at that house that Bale was confronted and manhandled.
The episode was captured on camera by a CNN crew that had accompanied Bale on the eight-hour trip from Beijing, where the actor had been for a premiere of his film "The Flowers of War." In the video, embedded below, he noted he was "not being brave" by attempting to visit Chen, as others had also done unsuccessfully since September.
Though the situation with Chen was clearly no laughing matter, The Times' Beijing correspondent, Barbara Demick, tracked down some online ribbing that "The Dark Knight Rises" star Bale took from fans over the incident.
"Batman couldn't do it alone," one Chinese commentator wrote on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-type service. "But if he takes Spiderman, Superman, the Hulk, Wolverine, Captain America and Harry Potter, they can get it done right?"
-- Christie D'Zurilla
Photo: Fans of Christian Bale await the actor's arrival outside a screening of "The Flowers of War," directed by China's Zhang Yimou, on Monday. Photo credit: Mark Ralston / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images.