No Fate: Christian Bale on Terminator

Tue, May 12th, 2009 at 11:35am PDT | Updated: May 12th, 2009 at 11:35am

TV/Film
Erik Amaya, Staff Writer

""Terminator Salvation" opens May 21

Earlier in the year, it was reported that Christian Bale was only willing to play John Conner in “Terminator Salvation” if the script was good enough to be performed on stage. Bale told CBR News last week that this is not true. “No. I never said that,” the actor reported. “McG [the director] said that. I never said that. This movie could never be done on a stage.”

While Bale appreciated the intention, he doesn’t think such an approach syncs well with the Terminator concept, which relaunches on May 21. “You wouldn’t want it to be [a stage play], y’know? This is not Brecht or something, this is Terminator,” he continued. “What do people really go in there for? They go for a good time and really have a blast here.” To attempt a Terminator story without complex machinery and movie-magic would be a disservice. “I don’t think you could do that on a stage without all the machines and everything,” Bale said of the mixture that makes Terminator films enjoyable. Joking, the actor added, “That was one of those things [McG said] where I respectfully kind of nodded.”

Coming in from “The Dark Knight,” Bale did not have any trepidation restarting another lucrative film franchise. The star claimed it didn’t even occur to him. “I tend not to fathom these notions until [journalists] bring them up for me,” he joked. “Any planning that I have in my career is totally accidental.” In regards to “Terminator Salvation,” Bale said “I certainly didn’t have any doubts or concerns about that. It just became something that over time grew to interest me; because it certainly wasn’t to begin with.”

When first approached, Bale had some concerns about the script and even attempting another Terminator film. “Like everybody else involved, said ‘this isn’t really what I would want to see in another Terminator movie.’ And everybody agreed on that.” He even turned the movie down a couple of times. “Well, it’s done. There’s no new story there to be told,” thought the actor.

Scene from ""Terminator Salvation"

Ultimately, he was challenged into it by those around him. “It really came to interest me. In some ways it was that thing of people saying, ‘why’d you want to do that?’ that made me go, ‘well, I’m going to go do it, then,’” the star explained.

Bale and the production team struck a deal to address his script concerns. “Which, with the writers strike, was a leap of faith because we knew we were striking a deal on a new script being written, but knowing nothing could be written [at the time,]” the actor recalled. Faith in the idea became a key thing for Bale. “I just couldn’t believe that it couldn’t become something that was worthy of people putting down ten bucks in a movie theatre. So I did take a leap of faith on that, because I did eventually say okay, let’s go for it.”

While not a rabid fan of the earlier Terminator movies, Bale does recall seeing the set directed by James Cameron. “I enjoyed the first one; seeing it on video with a few friends,” he remembered. “I really liked the second one; much to do with the electric atmosphere when I saw it at seventeen. It was when I first came out to the states and I’d never been in a movie theater that had that much noise and excitement throughout the entire movie.”

It is that energy Bale hopes to recapture in this newest film. “I just think there is actually -- in the hands of the right people -- a real revival for this,” he said. “And I really hope it will be a great, fun, movie trilogy if this one takes off.”

Talking about the film’s director, McG, Bale characterized him as “somebody who drinks a case of Red Bull before coming to work everyday.” This energy is something Bale noted in the director’s behavior on set. “He loves rallying people. He loves involving the crew. It’s a talent that may not sound like a whole lot, but it really makes a big difference when you see the crew being appreciated that way that he does and him really enjoying each of their jobs. And he’s a geek for the Terminator mythology.”

In regard to the scrutiny the “Charlie’s Angels” director is under for taking on the Terminator series, Bale joked, “I think he’s asking for trouble just because he calls himself ‘McG’ and he knows that, that’s not news to him. So he’s somebody who likes a bit of a battle.” The actor believes McG has risen to the challenge. “I think he’s pulled it off with this. I hope people would agree. Sometimes, as an insider, you can’t see the wood for the trees. I really think he’s pulled it off and given it an opportunity to expand [the series].”

Scene from ""Terminator Salvation"

While the actor hopes for “Salvation’s” success, Bale does not have a particular message he thinks the audience should glean from it. “I never try to guess what anybody else will take from a movie. Every movie is such a different experience for each and every person. And I don’t like it when people try telling people what they should take from a movie. They should go in with fresh eyes and decide for themselves.”

Asked about the next Batman sequel, inevitable following the tremendous success of “The Dark Knight,” Bale responded, “Chris Nolan [‘Dark Knight’ director], man of few words. I just know that it’s not really something that he loves when I go talking about it. So that’s probably why he just keeps me in the dark.” Nolan is currently preparing to shoot the non-Batman film “Inception” with Batman alums Michael Caine and Cillian Murphy. Nolan also made “The Prestige” in between “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.”

When asked about John Connor’s messianic burden and the similarity to Bruce Wayne’s crusade, Bale joked, “Listen man, I’ve got the weight of the world resting on my shoulders, so I know all about that.”

TAGS:  christian bale, terminator, terminator salvation, mcg, christopher nolan

 
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