So undoubtedly some of you have now heard the audio of Christian Bale going on a tirade on the set of Terminator 4. If you haven’t, the clip above is available for your listening. Be forewarned though, it contains about a billion f-bombs and he gets very, very angry.
Supposedly, Bale lost his cool because the director of photography or DP, wandered into his sightline while he was doing a scene with actress Bryce Dallas Howard. From what Bale says, this wasn’t the first time that happened. Bale’s fearsome verbal assault on the DP is stunning in its ferocity. Though only the audio is available (for now), you can imagine that this is happening on the set with dozens and dozens of people on hand to listen. Bale essentially rips the DP a new one and he wasn’t at all kind about it either. It goes without saying that the DP probably felt belittled by Bale. The threat of violence near the end didn’t make things better either.
I think Bale is a great actor. It’s clear he commits to his role fully and he’s well-known for the lengths he’ll go for a movie. He wanted to starve himself to 100 lbs. for The Machinist and he didn’t only because he was stopped by the filmmakers who were concerned about his health. So it’s clear he’s very intense when it comes to his craft. Despite this passion, I believe it doesn’t give him the right to belittle another human being in front of his peers. His tirade was very unprofessional, even if the DP did walk into his shot for the second time. What was at stake? A life or Bale’s millions of dollars? No. It was a scene in a movie. Yeah, I get he’s really into his work and no one likes it when someone else screws with you while you’re working but this was way over the line. Being respectful and professional are qualities you don’t leave behind just because you’re a highly-paid actor.
In a similar situation but reversed, consider what happened on the set of Three Kings, the 1999 George Clooney movie. Director David O. Russell was having a difficult time during shooting and was under tremendous stress. For whatever reason, Russell began treating his crew badly, both verbally and physically. Clooney stepped in to defend the crew knowing he was probably the only one in a position to do so. After Russell threw an extra to the ground, Clooney verbally admonished Russell for the act. Depending on what account you read, Russell either did engage Clooney in a fistfight or at least the two got very close to brawling. You can view this in a few different ways but my take is that Clooney is a dude that never forgets about the importance of having respect and being professional at all times. You might wonder if pumelling a director is being professional but I bet if you asked the crew of Three Kings, they’d probably tell you damn right that was the right thing to do. It’s not difficult to understand why Clooney is well-liked on movie sets.
So yeah, that was a dickhead move on Bale’s part and I hope that since that clip was recorded (in July 2008), Bale has had a chance to apologize for the way in which he expressed his displeasure at being interrupted. Having said all of that, I will mention one last thing. If you’re going to put yourself out there and act like a raving asshole for millions of people to hear, I’m pretty sure he did it the best way possible. He didn’t stutter or trip over his words in any of the three and a half minutes of bile. He was crazy intense the entire time and the switching of accents between American and Welsh was unbelievable. He’s even laser-focused when he’s angry, that’s amazing. He loses a few points for mocking the guy though.
I wonder if this little bit of drama will cause more or less people to see T4 when it comes out.