From the skeletal insomniac in The Machinist to the pot-bellied con artist in American Hustle, Hollywood superstar Christian Bale is that rare artist who stops at nothing to get under the skin of his characters.
This “transformation” is the key to his acting and keeps the process intriguing and interesting, Bale said in an interview.
“It’s not necessarily what everybody does. I greatly admire people who are able to be themselves and be entertaining and be one thing all the time. There is an incredible talent to that. I don’t have that.
“I like to see how much I can take myself out of each and every character I play. I actually enjoy that I don’t have a particular technique and it change all the time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” Bale, who is currently in India to promote Andy Serkis’ Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle for Netflix, said.
The actor, who has spoiled Batman forever for other artistes with his masterful depiction of the angst-ridden superhero in Christopher Nolan’s critically-lauded and commercially successful trilogy, said people often attach the tag of “method actor” to him but the term is alien for him.
Not being a trained performer, the 44-year-old approaches every role with some apprehension and that one question everybody ponders over — Oh god, how am I gonna do this?
“I don’t consider myself the master of my craft and I think that’s what keeps me intrigued because I never did train. I literally had couple of weekends at YMCA. I make it up each time and my wife knows this. Every time I get cast, I go, ‘Oh god! How am I gonna do this.’ I change my technique every single time,” Bale told PTI.
“People have been saying to me that ‘you are a method actor’. That requires training in the method and I have no idea what that means at all. I just make it up as I go along,” he added.
While superhero fans just can’t see or imagine anyone else playing Batman, cinephiles have always held films such as The Machinist , “American Psycho” and “The Fighter” as examples of how great his cinema is.
The star’s portrayal of former US vice president Dick Cheney in Adam McKay’s upcoming political drama, “Vice”, a part for which Bale gained more than 40 pounds, is generating another Oscar buzz for the actor.
He got the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of trainer Dickie Eklund in David O Russel’s sports drama “The Fighter”.
Playing real people might limit some actors as there is only a certain way one can be but the opposite holds true for Bale, who said he finds it liberating to be other people.
“When you are playing a real person, I find it actually very liberating because sometimes when you are playing an entirely fictional character, you’re concerned that you are trying to steal scenes by being, perhaps, quite an exhibitionist.
Whereas when you know the actual person is that, then you can turn to the director say ‘Look at him for instance.’ ‘The Fighter’, for instance, Dickie, who I’m still in touch with, look at Dickie and just come and hang out with him over dinner. He does all these things. Therefore I can get away with it. It’s not just the ego of an actor. I find it actually very liberating to play real people,” he said.
Bale plays Bagheera, the elder brother-mentor to Mowgli in the Netflix film, which is a darker take on Rudyard Kipling’s classic.
Having known Serkis for a long time and being aware of the actor-director’s reputation as the master of performance capture technique, Bale was sufficiently intrigued about the role.
In a press conference on Sunday, the actor said he found a close connection with the three main characters panther Bagheera, man-cub Mowgli and the film’s villain, Bengal tiger Shere Khan.
“Like Mowgli, Bagheera had to work out who he was. He has taken the damage and turned it into love and positivity whereas Shere Khan has taken it and turned it into bitterness and hatred,” Bale had said.
Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle features performance capture and voice over by Bale, Serkis, Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Naomie Harris, Tom Hollander and Peter Mullan. The film stars Rohan Chand as the title character.
The film has been dubbed in Hindi by Abhishek Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Madhuri Dixit and Kareena Kapoor.