By now, everyone has listened to at least part of Christian Bale's fuck-filled, four-minute rant at the director of photography on the set of "Terminator Salvation" several months ago, recently released by TMZ.
I was actually impressed with Bale's self-restraint during his outburst. Not once in his tirade does he pull star rank -- he gives the DP his propers as a professional with equal responsibility in the creation of the film. "Do you want me to trash your lights?" is one of Bale's threats (along with kicking the DP's ass and never working with him again). "You don't know how to work with actors," the actor -- not quite plaintively -- wails.
But Bale never shifts to prima donna mode. Rather, he puts the two of them on equal footing, objecting strictly in terms of the man's failure to fulfill his professional obligations. "You're an amateur," he ridicules, and complains about how the DP's lapses impinge on his work: "I'm trying to do a scene. . . you understand my mind is not in the scene if you're doing that!" Bale laments that the DP's and his own efforts are "useless now," since the product is trashed. An associate producer on the film has come to Bale's defense, maintaining that the actor was a "consummate professional" who quickly regained his composure.
We know the 34-year-old actor has self-control issues: he was arrested in London last July after his sister and mother leveled assault charges against the star of the latest Batman, The Dark Knight, just as the film appeared. Although formal charges were finally not filed in that case, it's bad news when your closest relations sic the police on you. Better to avoid them and cut their allowances.
Bale does go on too long reaming the DP -- there is, after all, a power differential between the two of them, and so Bale's outburst is inherently bullying. It's almost as though he doesn't realize his own power, which could have been expressed by demanding that the man be fired, and so he instead resorts to an extended childish tantrum. Bale could profit from cognitive-behavioral therapy that trains him to count to ten when he is thwarted in the future.
Still, Bale is almost endearing in his cries: "I never had a DP behave like this" and "He needs to stop walking (on the set)." He even concedes "You're a nice guy" to the object of his wrath. To a psychologist -- like a film critic -- it's praiseworthy when someone is able to balance positives and negatives in the same emotional scene.
And, after all, it took less than five minutes before the actor was finally ready to return to work, announcing "Let's go again."