Exodus: Gods and Kings interview round-up: Christian Bale

Exodus: Gods and Kings interview round-up: Christian Bale April 25, 2015

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Exodus: Gods and Kings has been available on DVD and Blu-Ray in North America for just over a month, now — and I promise I’ll post a few comments about that in the near future, once I’ve gotten some other assignments out of my system — but apparently it won’t be released in the United Kingdom until next week.

In anticipation of the film’s British home-video release, an interview with Christian Bale popped up on The Huffington Post UK this week, and it reminded me that I’ve been sitting on a few interviews that Bale did to promote the film’s theatrical release a few months ago — so here, at long last, is a round-up of all those interviews.

First, here is an excerpt from the brand new interview with HuffPostUK:

When you act with a green screen does it change the way you approach the role?

There wasn’t that much green screen that we were in front of because Ridley created a lot, from the ground up to about 30-feet. That was all real. Above that there was green screen, or no green screen. Actually, when I look back on this film, I think about the incredible locations. I don’t think about any green screens and I love location work more than anything. Ridley found the most incredible beaches and locations that were perfect for the Red Sea and these were just stunning, mind-blowing places. I don’t know how he did it. I don’t recall much green screen.

Do you consider Moses an icon of freedom?

Moses has become a symbol for salvation and revolution in many instances throughout history, and for very good reason. He was the original liberator and also, as you saw from the story, he made a radical transition himself — from the archetypal collaborator with the Egyptian regime, which is presented here as quite a fascist regime, to becoming an archetypal victim of that regime. So his story resonates. He is a very, very human prophet. I read a lot about him and his story is so complex. He is such a fascinating character and it was a shame we only had 2hrs and 20mins because his story is so full. And he was at times such a contradictory character but always engaging and always very extreme. That’s clearly why his story is still so engaging to all of us.

Dipping into the archives, there was this interview in the Wall Street Journal:

Andrew Goldman: You seem to be going through a Jewish phase in your career. First you played Irv Rosenfeld in American Hustle, now Moses.

Christian Bale: That was David [O. Russell]’s comment to me. He said to me, “Hey, so you’re going from playing a Jew to the Jew.”

AG: When Charlton Heston parted the Red Sea as Moses in The Ten Commandments, he looked a little like Kenny Rogers, or a very angry Santa Claus, with beautifully coiffed hair. You look considerably dirtier.

CB: Yeah, we just felt, let’s make an attempt. I mean, no matter what we do, it’s inaccurate—we’re speaking English, for God’s sake! I mean, the whole thing, the basis, is an inaccuracy, but we’re trying to get the feeling, the emotion, hopefully. And recognizing that this wasn’t a person able to scrub himself that much after he left the palaces of the Pharaoh; he inevitably would’ve looked more like somebody who’d been homeless for many years. So we had these moments in it with absolutely ratty, dreadlocked hair that you kind of have to hack through.

AG: You’re famous for immersing yourself in your characters. I can’t imagine what’s involved with internalizing Moses’ back story.

CB: Well, first off, I kind of said, “Look, can we say Moishe as much as possible?” Because you say Moses and you go, “Oh my God, how can I do that?” You say Moishe, and I can come at him from a human perspective: I was chasing some sheep up a mountain recently, and I got hit on the head by a rock. And when I came around, I spoke with God. And he told me things. And I’m changed forever. This is going to be my new destiny; this is my calling.

And there was this, from the Sydney Morning Herald:

The complexity of the character is not something he brought to the role – Bale says it is in the man depicted in the scriptures. “He does have tremendous uncertainty in the Bible,” Bale says. “[But] I think it’s a matter of perspective. The [story of the] ten commandments looks at it with the power of hindsight and says, ‘He’s a prophet’. It seems to give that confidence to the character, right from the get-go.

“We said, ‘You don’t know what’s going to happen, you’re a man who’s suddenly talking with God’. Does he think what if it’s a figment of his imagination? What if God starts telling him to do things that he doesn’t agree with? What about the burden of 600,000 lives on his shoulders? You not only have this divine rapture, you have this crippling weight of responsibility. And nobody’s telling him he’s right. To me, that’s what changes everything, and that’s what makes it more human.”

The film also poses challenging questions about faith, not just for the character or even the film’s audience – though both will grapple in their own way – but for the actor himself. On the topic of personal faith, Bale answers with brevity and a sort of unresolved elegance. “I have always had an interest in religion; never been religious, but have attended various churches, of all sorts of denominations,” he says.

“I have also benefited from seeing direct charity from religious organisations,” he continues, “my family not having a place to live, and being put up by this wonderful lady, who was highly religious, and recognising, ‘Is this the reason she did this? Does [religion] produce this charity?’ ” He pauses for a moment, and then speaks again. “There are endless questions, aren’t there, about it?”

Bale also addressed the controversy over the film’s casting of ethnically European actors in Egyptian roles, in this piece for the Associated Press:

“No doubt it would have been a melting pot between Europe and the Middle East and North Africa,” Bale said of ancient Memphis.

But he also praised Scott for doing what was necessary to finance the film.

“He’s been incredibly honest in getting a large, big-budget film like this made.”

Bale was alluding to the fact that investors feel safer with big name actors, as opposed to local international stars.

“I don’t think fingers should be pointed, but we should all look at ourselves and say, ‘Are we supporting wonderful actors in films by North African and Middle Eastern filmmakers and actors’, because there are some fantastic actors out there,” Bale said.

He made a similar point to The Hollywood Reporter:

“It would absolutely be a wonderful day of celebration if, within a few decades, we have another Moses and he’s a North African or Middle Eastern actor — what a wonderful thing,” he told The Hollywood Reporter at the film’s New York premiere, in response to the film’s controversial casting. “Ridley [Scott] is absolutely honest and blunt to a fault, and I think that people, rather than pointing fingers, should ask themselves, are they being supportive of North African and Middle Eastern filmmakers and actors? … The change will come from independent filmmaking, but audiences have to be there. Because once that happens, financiers of bigger and bigger budget films will say, ‘We can actually do business here.’ ”

Bale also revealed that he likes tidal waves:

Of Scott’s special effects, Edgerton loved the locusts, and Paul favored the parting of the Red Sea. Bale admitted, “I’m obsessed with tidal waves. I dream about them! I’d go see a film just because it’s got a tidal wave in it, I don’t care about the rest of it.”

Next up, the video interviews.

Extra has a fun interview with Bale in which he clarifies his earlier statement that Moses was “likely schizophrenic,” and in which the interviewer uses the film’s casting of a 10-year-old as “God” to ask Bale about how he raises his own kids.

Meanwhile, in the second part of this Australian video, Bale says he’s thankful for the so-called death of the “movie star” because it’s given him a career:

Yahoo Movies! talked to Bale and Ridley Scott about how they worked together…

…and how they worked with the animals (Joel Edgerton is also in this one):

Moviefone talked to Scott and Bale about their short shooting schedule:

Finally, there is this video from the film’s London premiere:

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