11/30/2011 03:59 pm ET Updated Jan 30, 2012

Christian Bale Talks 'The Flowers Of War' & China


Bale was baffled to find stone-cold silence when he arrived on the set of Yimou's $100 million historical epic The Flowers of War in January. After the 14-hour flight from Los Angeles to Nanjing, China, Bale found it downright unnerving. Sets are usually noisy hubs, not mausoleums."There were a couple of hundred people just staring at me. Even Yimou was whispering. I thought to myself, 'I guess this is how it's done in China,' " Bale recalls. "It turns out they'd all gotten together the day before and said that in the States, everybody is quiet on the set. I told them, 'Please, start shouting.' "
One of the more awkward moments of the shoot came when Zhang asked Bale if he would instruct the first-time actors. Bale was stunned, since no director he's ever worked with would tolerate such an intrusion."Yimou explained that it's different in China, and that the more experienced actor is considered rude if he or she doesn't tell a less-experienced actor how to do a scene," Bale says. "What we had was a culture clash of what's acceptable, and what's not. I mean for me to tread on Yimou's toes would be incredibly arrogant. I just couldn't do it. At the same time, I didn't want to be perceived as being rude myself." Bale came up with a plan -- he was willing to leave the set and speak to an actor, but only if Zhang came along.

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