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On Christian Bale, and behaving on a hot set…

Over the last 10 years, I’ve had the privilege of being on a couple of Hollywood sets. While my career has kept me (for the most part) away from big-budget Hollywood, I have a respect for the way things are done down there. A lot of lower-end productions still utilize the Hollywood method because it’s tried and true.

Right now, there’s an audio clip floating around that features a very-upset Christian Bale screaming out a young Director of Photography. The clip makes Bale sound like he’s a monster, and coupled with other news stories, it’s painting a picture of him being out of control. That’s not how to interpret that clip.

The world of high-end production is a very high-strung one. There’s a production schedule to keep, scenes have to be completed, sets struck, new sets built; it’s a pressure-cooker of an environment for everyone involved because there’s just not enough hours in the day to get things done. Every job is segmented and broken down into smaller jobs so that everything can go just right. Actors are the center of it all, and if they are trying to portray an emotionally filled scene accurately, many of them feel the actual emotions of the scene.

From what I just read, the scene being shot just prior to Bale’s tirade was just such a scene, and the tirade came after the DP decided to fiddle with lights during the take. Not once, but TWICE. We aren’t hearing the polite, “Don’t do that anymore.” We are hearing an actor, having been polite before, saying enough is enough. Is it pretty? No, but I’ve heard plenty worse. If anything, the DP should’ve gone and hid instead of continuing to confront Bale – it sounds like the DP was in the wrong here.

I’m curious – how many of you have ever seen or heard a director, actor, or producer just lose it over a mistake? I can probably name about 5 times in my pro career where I’ve seen it happen, and not one of them was undeserved, considering the circumstances. Luckily, only one of them was ever directed at me. 🙂

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