Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Handbag!

“It’s my art. You are ruining my process!”

Christian Bale doesn’t utter those particular words, but he might as well have. By now, the recording of Christian Bale’s previously reported nutsoooo moment on the set of the new Terminator film(titled Terminator 4: Seriously?) has made the rounds on the interwebs for a good day, and most have had a chance to listen to Bale’s juvenile hissy fit as he makes the case for having the worst reputation of any actor in the industry by, first, cursing, and then, at one point, seemingly trying to physically assault, the movie’s DP, Shane Hurlbut. (And what’s going on with his accent, by the way, as his vowels do the tango through America, Wales and The East End?)

TMZ, which broke the original news and posted the recording, fills in the details:

It happened on the set after a director of photography accidentally ruined a scene by walking onto the set. Bale lost it, screaming, yelling and threatening to quit if the bosses didn't fire the dude.

Film execs sent the tape to the insurance company that insured the film in case Bale bailed.

It should be noted that if you listen to the file, it doesn’t actually sound like Shane Hurlbut walked into the set, but, instead, like he didn’t realise the cameras were still rolling, and proceeded to do his job, unaware that he was in Bale’s eyeline.

It is crucial, during a shoot, for an actor to be able to stay in the scene, and any distraction in their eye line, might rip them out of it. That’s funny because a sudden divertissement that destroys concentration is an ailment that is particular only to superstar actors. The rest of us mere mortals are such bastions of single-minded centralisation that we never, EVER, get distracted.

And of course if we did, we, too, would do like Antonioni and BLOW UP!

This is what I do not understand. A celebrity fit making the rounds is the kind of info nugget that usually invades my conscience but for a few minutes; however, reading some of the commentary (over at the Chud boards, for example, or Nathaniel’s excellent blog The Film Experience), I have come across a group of people who are, bizarrely, apologising for Bale’s petulance. Their central thesis is that acting is his lifeline, that Bale is an intense performer, and that all is fair in the pursuit of his craft.

These would all be valid were one able to transfer them to any other vocation save acting. You wouldn’t care that chopping meat was his only lifeline if you found yourself at the other end of a butcher’s spit-filled diatribe. You wouldn’t forgive an intense baker if he rocketed insults at you like a demented chimpanzee hurls its bowel movements. And you wouldn’t tolerate a candle-stick maker if he decided to use your most colloquial orifice as a snuffer.

Another reason to defend Bale seems to be the apparent clumsiness of the DP. In the file, Bale bitches about how this is the second time that he has ventured into the great thespian’s eyeline, and, like I said, that is one of the big no-no’s that Hurlbut should know better to avoid. That’s still no excuse to act like Nathan Lane’s Albert from The Birdcage – not everything can always go according to plan. People make mistakes. We all make mistakes. In fact, one of the unintentionally hilarious moments in the tape comes halfway through when Bale yells how unprofessional this is. For once, he’s right.

One of the crucial things when it comes to enjoying a piece of art is to dissociate one’s self from the artist, and enjoy the art itself. Your Christian Bales, your Ed Nortons, your David O. Russells make that very difficult indeed.

“Oh, but he’s so stressed!” Join the club, bitch.
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UPDATE 2: This is awesome beyond measure. Hattip to John Lichman, who helpfully points out that the track is from the producer of RuPaul's new album.


4 comments:

JK said...

That was probably the most entertaining and engaged performance Mr. Bale has given in quite some time. This makes me nervous of the day, whenever it will come, to be on a set directing and be in such a situation. I would hope to be able to quell such an outburst or at least have a good enough relationship with an actor to establish that on the set he should communicate with me if he needs anything or has any issues. I'd be curious to hear a recording of the first time this happened in the take and what Bale's reaction was at that point. And what of Mr. Hurlbut? Was he, in fact, in the wrong? What need was there to check a light if a scene was in progress? Honestly his reaction was overblown and possible the result of having millions thrown at him and handlers constantly informing him they find the aroma emanating from his leavings reminds them of roses...or maybe he's an insecure self-involved actor. In any event I'd say there's a lot of pressure and a lot of non-sense and a lot of egos that get thrown around on these overblown Hollywood action movies. I'd say this isn't so much newsworthy as hilarious.

But to play devil's advocate I would say it is unbelievably infuriating when someone interrupts a shot, in any capacity. When an interruption like this occurs it is as if the cause of the interruption is loudly, blatantly, and like an ignorant braying mule is saying whatever they are doing is more important than the film. The film is the most important thing, no matter what the film itself will turn out to be (I'm not thinking Terminator 4 will reinvent the wheel on the ol' film art there). The continuity of performance, clear sound (and wasn't that some good sound on the clip, good job boom op!) and no, repeat no, distractions. When action is called everything should stop and if someone doesn't stop they should be taken aside and quietly told just that. But I guess Batman's a doer not a talker.

Anonymous said...

That was probably the most entertaining and engaged performance Mr. Bale has given in quite some time. This makes me nervous of the day, whenever it will come, to be on a set directing and be in such a situation. I would hope to be able to quell such an outburst or at least have a good enough relationship with an actor to establish that on the set he should communicate with me if he needs anything or has any issues. I'd be curious to hear a recording of the first time this happened in the take and what Bale's reaction was at that point. And what of Mr. Hurlbut? Was he, in fact, in the wrong? What need was there to check a light if a scene was in progress? Honestly his reaction was overblown and possible the result of having millions thrown at him and handlers constantly informing him they find the aroma emanating from his leavings reminds them of roses...or maybe he's an insecure self-involved actor. In any event I'd say there's a lot of pressure and a lot of non-sense and a lot of egos that get thrown around on these overblown Hollywood action movies. I'd say this isn't so much newsworthy as hilarious.

But to play devil's advocate I would say it is unbelievably infuriating when someone interrupts a shot, in any capacity. When an interruption like this occurs it is as if the cause of the interruption is loudly, blatantly, and like an ignorant braying mule is saying whatever they are doing is more important than the film. The film is the most important thing, no matter what the film itself will turn out to be (I'm not thinking Terminator 4 will reinvent the wheel on the ol' film art there). The continuity of performance, clear sound (and wasn't that some good sound on the clip, good job boom op!) and no, repeat no, distractions. When action is called everything should stop and if someone doesn't stop they should be taken aside and quietly told just that. But I guess Batman's a doer not a talker.

Peet Gelderblom said...

Sheesh, somebody had a latte too much that morning. Next time, Christian: plainly say what's bothering you once and walk off the set.

Film sets can be real pressure cookers, especially when the days are long. That's not an excuse, but it is the truth. Bale's attitude here is equally woeful as David O. Russell's, except Bale's probably in character.

Ali Arikan said...

Peet - Love your "too much latte" comment!

It's the latte that makes it art.