When you made The Machinist, did you intend to lose 60 pounds?
No, there was never that plan. It just took a lot longer to get the money together than I expected, so the [start] date kept getting pushed back. I kept losing more and more weight.
The weight in the script was 121 pounds.
I was standing on these scales and it said 121 pounds. And Brad [the director] came up and moved the little dial up to 135, because he said nobody would believe it. And I said, "Screw you, man. I am 121 pounds!" At a certain point, you do start to lose a sense of quite how skinny you've become. Because it's so slow, it ceases to be a shock anymore. It became "Well, this is me now."
Bale in the trailer for The Machinist
While you were on location for Rescue Dawn, you hung from the skids of a helicopter as it flew over the jungle. What do you think is the closest you've ever come to death while working?
There's a sense of invulnerability when you're making a movie. I've been in situations where things could have gone very wrong. I saw a number of very anxious faces on The Dark Knight when a helicopter came incredibly close to me. I was standing on the corner of the Sears Tower, on the outside, 110 stories up. I felt quite oblivious to it. I was looking at the face of the pilot and just hanging there, not fully aware that the blades were actually just feet from my head.
Which character that you've taken home with you has your wife liked least?
I'd say Jim [the war veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder in Harsh Times]. There were probably not a lot of wonderful memories about him. He's not getting invited back any time soon.
What about the one she's liked the most?
That's quite surprising any time Trevor from The Machinist wants to come around the house, he's always welcome.
Has starring in a blockbuster had any noticeable impact on your personal life?
I was at the Science Museum in London with my daughter and some of her friends, and they wanted hot dogs. And so I went up to a hot-dog stand and I said, "Can I have three hot dogs?" They said, "I'm sorry, we're closed." And so I started walking away. And then one of them said, "Excuse me, are you Batman?" And I said, "Well, I play Batman." And they said, "Well, here's three hot dogs on the house." That's pretty remarkable, isn't it?
When was the last time you were mistaken for someone else?
Yesterday afternoon I was sitting somewhere and somebody started chatting. They said they were an agent, and they asked what I do, and I said, "I'm an actor." And they said, "Oh, how's that going for you?" I said, "I think it's all right." And they said, do I have an agent?
"Yes, I have an agent."
"Well, if you ever need any help getting work, give me a call."
So I said, "Thanks very much." I think the best one ever was when a casting director saw me in a hotel lobby and practically ran at me, holding a script: "Thank god I've finally found you! We have this movie that you're perfect for, and this is an amazing coincidence. The director and producer are not going to believe it, that I just bumped into you! We've been talking about how perfect you are for this role for so long! Finally, I met Christian Slater."
"I said, 'Christian Bale.'"
And she went, "Oh, I'm sorry," took the script, and walked away.