Christian Bale may move seamlessly between genres better than any actor around, but you can be sure he loves doing the big blockbusters as much as artier fare like last year’s I’m Not There and Rescue Dawn. Take Batman, the franchise that he reinvented with director Christopher Nolan in 2005’s Batman Begins and returns to on July 18 in The Dark Knight. The Caped Crusader films may be loaded with special effects and based on comic books, but when EW.com caught up with the actor last week at the ShoWest convention in Las Vegas (where footage of the film was shown), he sounded as jazzed as ever about playing the part. And then he dropped this little Bat-bomb: ”Knowing the Dark Knight story, I would like very much to complete a trilogy.”
Whoa. So does that mean that this sequel leaves the door open for another movie? Would they really do it? In a wide-ranging interview, Bale talked about why he returned to the world of Batman, what it was like to work with his late costar Heath Ledger, his plans to do a similar franchise reboot with The Terminator, and where he wants to go from here.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What brought you back to the part of Batman? Was there something that you didn’t get to do in the first one that you were looking forward to doing this time around?
CHRISTIAN BALE: Well, what we didn’t get to do was show this man who has now matured, who no longer has the naïveté that he had at a younger age — now it’s somebody who has caused change, who has achieved what he had set out to do, but is now seeing consequences that he hadn’t anticipated. So it’s now somebody with the burden of his power — the difference between the man trying to attain that and the man who finds himself with it, and how very different it is.
Do you feel like the character has changed? Isn’t that something that, as an actor, amidst all the effects and everything, you look for?
Yeah, of course, of course. It’s one of the major [reasons] I like working with Chris [Nolan]…. We manage to have all of the interest that I need as an actor, as well as what you said — what did you say, explosions and stuff?
Yeah, in the midst of that. Chris completely understands that explosions and effects don’t make a movie. That ain’t a story right there, those are spectacles within the story, but that doesn’t make a good movie.
So do you think there will be a part 3 of Batman?
Um, look, let’s wait and see…
Or, I guess it’d be part 7.
No, no, no, no, no. [Smiling] Part 3 is what I’d consider it, yeah, I don’t say part 7. Batman begins — that was the beginning there, with all due respect to the others. We are re-creating this. You know, obviously the decision is out of my hands. I would, knowing the Dark Knight story, I would like very much to complete a trilogy. And I think that knowing the story of The Dark Knight, it leaves you anticipating something that really can get very, very interesting for a third. Now, the question would be: Is Chris going to be doing it? Because to me I find it tricky to imagine working on it without it being a collaboration with Chris.
Back to The Dark Knight: Can you talk a little bit about what it was like to work with Heath Ledger?
Yeah, I’m absolutely fine talking about him. You know, I don’t like kind of trivializing the tragedy in conjunction with an interview to do with the movie, which is clearly far less important. But Heath was a joy. He really was like that, because he was a very unique man. I enjoyed watching him work, working with him — you know, we had a lot of the old gang from the first one together, and then there were new members, Heath obviously included. What was so great to see with Heath is just how seriously he took it. And we don’t mean in any way to sound sort of pretentious with that, but just in the fact that if we don’t take it seriously, then how can any audience ever take it seriously? And he did one hell of a job. You know, you were out there [at the Warner Bros. presentation earlier in the day] — you saw those clips?
That was my first time, yeah.
That was the first time I’d seen it as well — and it’s wonderful, it’s fantastic, and, you know, it gave me goose bumps throughout, looking at Heath up there. And I just hope that this can celebrate him, celebrate his work.
NEXT PAGE: Bale on the Terminator reboot, and how he chooses his roles