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Christian Bale is known for his blazing intensity in such films as the ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy and ‘American Psycho,’ but he had to change up his character for Scott Cooper’s Rust Belt drama ‘Out of the Furnace.’
The Rust Belt town of Braddock just outside of Pittsburgh is the sort of blue-collar enclave where factories once gave residents the promise of lifelong jobs at good union wages — the kind of place where resilience and character were more highly valued than possessions or status.
It’s that world that Braddock native Russell Baze has watched slip away in ”Out of the Furnace,” the searing new drama from writer-director Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart”) opening in theaters Wednesday. As played by Christian Bale, Russell is motivated by love and loyalty — a good man beset on all sides by turmoil. He is ceaselessly confronted by tragedy, yet he marshals his emotional reserves, even in the face of heartbreak.
“There’s a stillness to the character, a stillness that’s he’s had to have his entire life,” Bale said in a recent interview. “He’s had to put a hold on his impulses in order to be the patriarch of the family and to take on those responsibilities without going and screaming his head off. There’s no whining or complaining or wishing that it’s going to change. That’s stoicism, isn’t it?”
Bale, by contrast, is largely recognized for his relentless intensity, his determination to follow his creative impulses down wild and unpredictable paths, his willingness to radically reshape his body to conform to each new role. He also has a reputation, owing mostly to one unfortunate and well documented on-set outburst, as a temperamental leading man, quick to anger with little patience for Hollywood glad-handing. • Read full story »
Jeff Bridges has recently praises Christian Bale role as Russell Blaze in Out of the Furnace to Variety!
Christian Bale’s portrayal of the complicated Russell Baze in Scott Cooper’s “Out of the Furnace” is outstanding.
Christian always delivers, but I found this performance especially engaging.
What I love about his work is that he consistently creates characters that are real.
He gives the audience the sense they are a fly on the wall, watching something that isn’t meant to be seen.
Scott Cooper’s wonderful original screenplay and direction have given us the opportunity to see remarkable performances by the entire cast, and Christian, leading the pack, draws us so beautifully into this story with his powerful, subtle performance, that this movie is a one-of-a-kind jewel. It’s the best movie I’ve seen in a long time.
It’s grin-inducing to watch Christian Bale shrink back at the term “movie star.”
“I don’t have that thing where you get these sort of guys who give a smile that the women fall in love with them. I would just be cracking up laughing,” he says. “I can only do that as a spoof.”
But movie star he is, the self-deprecating kind who just flew in from the set of Exodus in Europe (he’s Moses) with two much-buzzed-about films on his hands: Out of the Furnace and American Hustle. Right now he’s running two hours behind, ever the perfectionist polishing audio for the upcoming Terrence Malick film, Knight of Cups.
Bale’s fuel? A small pile of potato chips, currently subbing in for the lunch he didn’t have time to eat while chatting about submerging himself into the world of Furnace, a low-budget, intense study on the effects of a crumbling American economy and the emotional tax recovering soldiers pay.
In the film (in limited release today and in theaters nationwide Friday), Bale, 39, plays Russell Baze, a steel worker committed to building a respectable life in the forgotten town of Braddock, Pa. His younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) has returned scarred from his fourth tour of duty in Iraq, turning to bare-knuckle brawling to pay his debts; their father suffers from cancer.
Here, a steady factory job is the only American Dream available, but for both Baze brothers, in 2008, prospects are bleak.
“You’re looking at someone like Russell who is so typically American, and does the right thing but is receiving nothing for it,” says the Welsh actor, who calls the U.S. his chosen home, having lived here since he was a teenager.
In the film, Bale — tattooed and sinewy — is watching his life veer off road. His girlfriend (Zoe Saldana) is torn from him, and local law enforcement, held in the grip of a backwoods crime ring, does nothing when Rodney disappears after a fight in the violent New Jersey Ramapo Mountains. Russell takes the law in his own hands to defend his brother from the ring’s depraved crime boss (Woody Harrelson).
The size of the project was enticing. After putting his celebrated Batman trilogy to bed in Christopher Nolan’s big-budget Dark Knight Rises, the opportunity presented by Furnace, shot in 27 days and helmed by second-time director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), appealed to Bale.
“It’s very rare that people who do massive films like that want to repeat with another massive film,” says Bale. “You’re dealing with a small army, everything you do requires hundreds of people — vs. a lower-budget film where you can spin on a dime. You have less people breathing over your shoulder. You can alter the script in 10 minutes and decide you’re going to go in a totally different direction and nobody questions you, you just do it. There’s great a freedom to it.”
Cooper says he wrote his film with Bale in mind, much as he had scripted Crazy Heart for Jeff Bridges, though he had not met either actor before approaching them with the projects.
“His character is a metaphor for America, and what we’ve experienced in these last five turbulent years,” says Cooper, calling Bale “the best actor of my generation…he plays the part with such restraint and subtlety and shading. Very few people can do that.”
From the steel town to the ’70s
Bale reunites with director David O. Russell, who directed him to a supporting-actor Oscar for 2010?s The Fighter, for American Hustle,out Dec. 13. Russell’s lens travels back to the ’70s , with Bale morphing into potbellied scam artist Irving Rosenfeld, caught between romancing his British sidekick (Amy Adams), pacifying his squawking young Long Island housewife (Jennifer Lawrence) and being strong-armed into stings by a reckless FBI agent (Bradley Cooper).
Hustle comically opens on Bale’s bloated gut as he strategically coaxes, glues and hairsprays his toupee into place. “I loved the contradiction of someone who is such a good con man who does such an appalling job of conning people that he has a head of hair,” says Bale with a grin. .”
On set, two passionate men sometimes collided. He and Russell “don’t hold anything back,” says Bale. “And if we disagree we say it very bluntly to each other and we work things out.” • Read full story »
The movie also wins best screenplay and best supporting actress for Jennifer Lawrence.
American Hustle was named best picture by the New York Film Critics Circle on Tuesday.
The movie also topped all other winners with a total of three awards, including best screenplay for David O. Russell, who also directed, and EricSinger. In addition, Jennifer Lawrence was named best supporting actress.
Last year, the NYFCC chose Zero Dark Thirty as its winner for best picture.
Other 2013 winners included best actress CateBlanchett(BlueJasmine), best actor RobertRedford (All Is Lost), best supporting actor JaredLeto (Dallas Buyers Club) and best director SteveMcQueen (12 Years a Slave).
A complete list of winners follows:
Best Picture: American Hustle Best Actor: Robert Redford, All Is Lost Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine Best Director: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave Best Screenplay:Eric Singer & David O. Russell, American Hustle Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle Best Animated Film: The Wind Rises Best Cinematographer: Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis Best First Film: Ryan Coogler,Fruitvale Station Best Foreign Film: Blue Is the Warmest Color Best Nonfiction Film (Documentary): Stories We Tell Special Award:Frederick Wiseman
Founded in 1935, the organization’s membership includes critics from daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, magazines and qualifying online general-interest publications. Every year in December, the group meets in New York to vote on awards for the previous calendar year’s films.
In addition to the regular categories, which include best picture, director, actor and actress, special stand-alone awards are given to individuals and organizations that have made substantial contributions to the art of cinema, including producers, directors, actors, writers, critics, historians, film restorers and service organizations.
Meeting Christian Bale for the first time, you realize how much baggage you are bringing into the room. It’s because he has shown so much intensity, shape-shifting and commitment in a range of roles that are far more consistently memorable than most actors can claim over a long career, launched 26 years ago with Steven Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun.” He doesn’t agree– a sign of the high standards to which he holds himself, which have served him well.
Clearly he knows how to pick roles– and deliver. Bale is pleasant and forthright as he talks about his latest performances in two excellent films hitting theaters during the height of award season. He’d rather talk, though, about hard-working factory welder Russell Baze, a good man trapped by an unforgiving world in Scott Cooper’s carefully structured rust-belt drama “Out of the Furnace” (December 6). That seems to have been a more pleasurable experience than the wildly improvisational set of David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” (December 13).
Bale should have known what he was getting into after his performance as a drug-addicted trainer in Russell’s “The Fighter” yielded a supporting actor Oscar. Bale’s wily Long Island con-man Irving Rosenfeld in “American Hustle” is an astonishing creation that has to be seen to be believed. This time the actor gained 50 pounds, perfected an elaborate comb-over, and is utterly, hilariously believable as the reluctant husband of blonde bombshell Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) and ardent lover of fellow con-artist Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). Who else could have pulled this off? (Bale clearly has little to say about the Russell film. When his raves come in, he may change his mind. Here’s my early take on the film.)
Anne Thompson: How do you make decisions about what you’re going to do and who you’re going to work with?
Christian Bale: Depends what your situation in life is. There are many films you look back on and you can say, “he didn’t think about the director at all.” You’re being very complimentary and presumably you’re talking about the better films. There might be a lot of good ones, but there’s a lot of bad ones. They’re there, ok? Obviously you’re not making the right choices all the time but you know what? Necessity. Sometimes this is how you make your living.
When you’re in a fortunate enough position which yes, I am now, where you can say, “you know what? Finish the film. I don’t have to be working within another month.” I think, what a wonderful position to be in, that you’re not just desperately trying to keep yourself afloat but you actually say “wow, how did that happen?” There’s nobody who becomes an actor who’s a good businessman. It’s just total bloody luck. You suddenly find yourself going “what? I just did something I like doing?” And I’m actually now in a position where I don’t have to work for a little while, and in that case yeah, you’ve got a responsibility, you best be doing something that’s really good! At those moments you are declaring who you are and what films you want to make.
In a weird way not doing Batman anymore makes you free to be you.
I didn’t really want to be me anyway. You have different characters, you get movie stars who are wonderful at being themselves, who are charismatic and charming. And that’s not me. And you get people who just want to create absolute other inventions alien to themselves and that’s what I enjoy. Yes, there’s an element of course of the director and his reputation but you also want to take a chance on somebody who’s never done anything.
Such as Scott Cooper?
Well he did “Crazy Heart,” which was wonderful but there are times when you just say, “everything is a leap of faith.” “Harsh Times” is an example. I really enjoyed that. I don’t think hardly anybody saw it. David [Ayer] hadn’t been able to get the financing for it and I was making “Batman” and called him up and said, “Look, we might be able to get financing together now that I’m doing this.” Wanna do it? And he said “great, okay.” He remortgaged his own house for it and paid for it all himself and we shot it. I’ll never stop wanting to take a chance. I didn’t get into this to be making solid, safe movies. • Read full story »
Christian Bale has an intensity that seeps into performances which leave fans awestruck. His passion for his craft, however, does not include self-promotion. With a pair of compelling perfs to tubthump, the excruciatingly private star now has to do his least favorite thing: face the media.
Christian Bale is the reluctant movie star.
Despite being regarded as one of the best actors of his generation, the enigmatic 39-year-old Brit has no interest in fame. His dashing, tall, dark and handsome looks are often concealed by the unattractive physical appearances and appurtenances of the characters he portrays. In an era when many of his contemporaries take to social media to connect with fans, he chooses to fly beneath the radar, straining to keep details of his personal life private and relying strictly on gut rather than a career strategy when picking roles. He is notoriously press shy, which has no doubt made these past few days of nonstop stumping for his upcoming movies, “Out of the Furnace” (debuting Dec. 6) and “American Hustle” (Dec. 13), more an excruciating journey than a joy ride. Yet Bale has succumbed to the revved-up PR-machine pressure that accompanies the annual high-octane awards season, in large part because he’s a rebel with a cause.
“I want people to see a film I’m proud of, and I feel an obligation to directors and crew members who busted their ass on a project to go out and talk about it,” he told Variety while on a whirlwind press tour that brought him to Los Angeles from Spain, where he is shooting Ridley Scott’s epic “Exodus,” in which he plays Moses.
Walking into a private room at the Soho House on the Sunset Strip, he makes a beeline for two cups of coffee awaiting him. “Bloody hell, I need these!” he exclaims. “In the last week, I haven’t slept for more than an hour and a half each night.” • Read full story »