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And so Batman wins an Oscar!

Last updated on: February 28, 2011 10:56 IST

And so Batman wins an Oscar!

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Raja Sen in Mumbai

Possibly best known as the new and most iconic on-screen Batman, Christian Bale has won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his fine, fine work in David O Russell's The Fighter.

Hours before the ceremony, Raja Sen caught up with Bale in an email interview to discuss The Fighter, Batman and co-star Mark Wahlberg. Excerpts:

Your chameleonic willingness to shed and gain weight for parts is quite fascinating. As an actor, do you believe working that hard on the physical aspect of the role takes away from the more cerebral, more internalised side of the performance? Or is it the converse, that being a method actor, the physical rigour just helps you stay deeper inside the skin of the character? 

I cannot be playing a boxer and look unfit, that would just make me look unbelievable. Along with the cerebral part of the performance to physically look the part is equally important, you can not separate one from the other that would just, I feel, take away from your performance.

As a Welshman, how hard was it reproducing Ecklund's highly distinctive Boston accent? Also, does it help when a character speaks a certain way? Is it perhaps easier than to inhabit the role and mark it as different from yourself, and other masks you wear?

It's a lot harder to get rid of it than it was to learn.

It helps a lot actually it brings you closer to the character. I feel every character has its own challenges; it is very difficult to get in to the skin of a character based on a real person as your audience has a reference point, and can easily spot out your short comings. As an actor, I am used to wearing masks and indifferent to whether it is easy or tough, it is just the way of life.


Image: Christian Bale accepts the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for 'The Fighter'
Photographs: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
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'I had to lose almost half of my weight to play Dicky in The Fighter'

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Your version of Ecklund creates a very edgy character, as frightening as he can be funny. What was your personal interpretation of Dicky in relation to Micky's life, and what parts were you most trying to emphasise about his personality? 

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 recognised 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.

And really, 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 have tried to emphasize a lot on Dicky's love towards his kid brother. It's quite a mix of loyalty, affection and dominance.

You are famous for staying in character throughout the shooting process. Isn't this a mentally-draining process? Which are the films where this commitment has personally taken a lot out of you? 

It is mentally draining but only at times, because as an actor, you have to go through such physical changes and ultimately when your audience appreciates what you have done, its all worth it. I think to play Batman was physically draining and even for The Fighter, I had to lose almost half of my weight to play Dicky.


Image: A scene from The Fighter

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'It is the villains, who make Batman what he is'

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You frequently play extreme characters. What do you personally find more fun, the lunatics or the level-headed heroes? Is playing a freak more fun? 

To play a lunatic or a level headed hero or a freak. It's all fun if the role is challenging enough and pushes you to bring out your best out of you and surpass your previous best.

And that question brings us, quite inevitably, to Batman. Chris Nolan's take on Bruce Wayne sees you as tormented but essentially straight. But do you ever feel shortchanged at that phenomenal rogue's gallery always stealing Batman's spotlight?  

No, Batman in its own is a very strong character and it is the villains, who make Batman what he is.


Image: A scene from The Dark Knight

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'It's not that I don't take Oscars seriously'

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Are you excited about the Oscar nominations? Which of the four Best Supporting Actor contenders -- Rush, Ruffalo, Hawkes and Renner -- do you personally consider the best of the year?  

I think they are nominated because they all are the best, had there been a better best or less better best, they wouldn't have been where they are.

Also, do you feel that your co-star Wahlberg should have gotten a Best Actor nomination? Or do you just not take the Oscars that seriously?  

No, it's not that I don't take Oscars seriously, but yes, I think Mark has done an extraordinary job in the film and is a winner already irrespective of him being nominated or not.


Image: A scene from The Fighter

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