Christian Bale: Talking The Fighter

Christian Bale is the talk of Hollywood for his intensely powerful performance as Mark Wahlberg’s onscreen brother in The Fighter. Bale has shot to the top of the list when it comes to who will win this year’s Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Dicky Eklund.

Christian Bale

Bale’s career has spanned decades. We first fell under his talent’s spell in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun. Since he stole scenes from John Malkovich in that film, Bale has been nothing less than riveting in a string of unforgettable roles.

Imagine any of the following films without Christian Bale: Rescue Dawn, The Machinist, American Psycho and of course, the Batman series. You can’t. The UK-born actor commands attention no matter his character.

Bale is relaxed and excited to talk about The Fighter and how he captured lightning once again with his portrayal of the real-life Dicky Eklund and his role in the rise of his half-brother Micky Ward’s (Mark Wahlberg) unlikely journey to greatness.

Christian Bale chats

SheKnows: Did Mark help with the Boston accent and also, Dicky kind of had his own unique accent — how did hanging out with him help?

Christian Bale: Mark was a great deal of help. He would never say anything, but he’d just get a certain look on his face when you said something, that you just knew that wasn’t it. You know. [Laughs] But also, I approached Dicky’s accent as — I mean, Dicky’s got his own thing goin’ on, you know. He calls it Dickinese, himself. And I think everyone will agree that I really had to tone down his natural rhythm and voice because I understand him completely now, because my ears are in with it. But if I’d done it exactly like Dicky, we would have needed subtitles [laughs].

SheKnows: Working with director David O. Russell on The Fighter, you’ve been directed by some of the industry’s best. How did his method mesh with yours?

Christian Bale: David’s got a very big heart. It would be very funny, there’d be times when he was often crying with laughter, and also just flat out crying.

Christian Band and Melissa Leo in The Fighter

SheKnows: How did Dicky take to the movie set experience?

Christian Bale: There were a couple of times I had to physically restrain Dicky from going and landing one right on David. [Laughs] We had some initial interesting times when we were rehearsing in Mark’s house, where Mark very nicely put up Micky and Dicky, and actually they lived at his house for some time. And there were some script changes going on, and Dicky wasn’t initially totally understanding that sometimes in putting a whole life into two hours, a little bit of license has to be taken and mixing things up. He wanted everything initially to be absolutely how it was portrayed. And if it wasn’t, there was a couple of times he would say, “I’m gonna go and I’m gonna get him [David].” That’s just this thing coming from a pro boxer. So there’s a couple of times I’d be going, “No, no, no.” And then we’d talk and David would talk with him. He actually came around and seemed to really understand it. You know, after we showed him the movie, he didn’t punch any of us. And I talk to him almost daily.

SheKnows: Once again you had to endure dramatic weight loss for a role. Is that getting old or is it a necessary evil?

Christian Bale: No, I felt so good and calm, and with playing Dicky, I was just running like crazy. I could just run for hours on end and I felt really healthy. Usually I always say, “Oh, I do a lot of coke whenever I lose weight.” [Laughs] I’m not sure if it’s so funny for this movie, to say that. [Laughs] But there’s not a whole lot of secrets to it. But one really good thing is to have this particular water. I found that helps to lose weight, immensely, and run a lot.

Dicky and Christian Bale at The Fighter premiere

SheKnows: What was your take, personally, on Dicky?

Christian Bale: I think that he was an absolute source of inspiration initially. And then I think he probably became an absolute confusion for his younger brother, because it’s an immensely loyal family and they’re immensely loyal brothers. But, as you see in the movie, it took Charlene to convince Micky that it wasn’t him abandoning his family to be able to remove himself for a little while — in order to change the dynamics. And then once that had been recognized and once Dicky, who also I think had had immense pressure from the family in the expectations they had of him at such a young age, and that through his success, the whole family would have success. I think very much that’s a part as well of what was drawing him to self-destruction. Once Dicky was able to initiate and say, it’s no longer his time, it’s Micky’s time now, and then convince the rest of the family of that — which took some doing — then after that, Dicky was no end of help for Micky. I don’t think that it could have happened without the one or the other. This movie wouldn’t exist without that beautiful relationship between the two brothers.