Christian Bale is not your typical GQ coverboy, but that’s exactly where he’s landed this month, in part because he cares about his newest collaboration with David O. Russell, Amsterdam, on which Bale is also a producer.
The $82-million film has an uphill battle in its first week of release. Despite being booked in 3,000 theaters nationwide, it’s looking at only about $10 million in ticket sales, per analysis from Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro. Given that, Bale said he decided to take a chance on a big, glossy interview to help boost the film.
“People have always told me this kind of stuff helps,” the actor told GQ. “I never believed it. But, I was like, ‘Oh, well, all right.’ I care. I care, you know?”
Another thing he cared about was not getting stuck playing Batman after the success of his billion dollar-grossing collaboration with Christopher Nolan on the Dark Knight trilogy. But if he did, he said, there would be an upside: He’d finally get to quit acting.
“I loved that because I was like, ‘This could be it. I could never be anything but that.’ And for a lot of people, I won’t,” Bale said. “I was like, ‘Ah, maybe I’m going to be forced to go do something different.’ And maybe this fucking thing [acting] that I got forced into doing as a kid that I didn’t fucking want to do in the first place, I’m out. And I’m free. And then it didn’t happen.”
So how did he insulate himself — and his ego — from the negative effects of the cultural phenomenon that the Nolan films became?
“I always just felt like it was a thing that someone else did, really, in a lot of ways,” Bale told the magazine. “I was like, ‘Oh, yeah. That thing happened over there. And that’s doing very well over there, I hear. That’s great.’ And I’m going off to Ralphs, the supermarket, to get bananas.”
The Oscar-winner continued, “I’ve never considered myself a leading man. It’s just boring. You don’t get the good parts. Even if I play a lead, I pretend I’m playing like, you know, the fourth, fifth character down, because you get more freedom. I also don’t really think about the overall effect that [a character’s] going to have. It’s for me to play around, much like animals and children do. Have tunnel vision about what you’re doing, not think about the effect you’re having.”
Bale says his career has been planned with “zero strategy. I think some people mistakenly believe that I am a leading man, and it just keeps on going and I don’t understand it.”
Speaking of leading men, there is one Hollywood hero who gets first look at every juicy part according to Bale, including Patrick Bateman in American Psycho: Leonardo DiCaprio.
“Oh, dude. It’s not just me. Look, to this day, any role that anybody gets, it’s only because he’s passed on it beforehand. It doesn’t matter what anyone tells you. It doesn’t matter how friendly you are with the directors. All those people that I’ve worked with multiple times, they all offered every one of those roles to him first. Right? I had one of those people actually tell me that. So, thank you, Leo, because literally, he gets to choose everything he does. And good for him, he’s phenomenal.”
But Bale, who has won just as many acting Oscars as DiCaprio, says he does not take it personally.
“Do you know how grateful I am to get any damn thing?” the actor asks. “I mean, I can’t do what he does. I wouldn’t want the exposure that he has either. And he does it magnificently. But I would suspect that almost everybody of similar age to him in Hollywood owes their careers to him passing on whatever project it is.”