“I just do what I do,” Bale said. “What happens after I’m wrapped is always out of my hands. It doesn’t matter which country that’s in. … Which scenes get chosen, which scenes get cut, that has nothing to do with me.”
The movie marks Bale’s return to the country where he launched his Hollywood career in 1987 with Steven Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun.” And while Bale didn’t worry about intrusion into the filmmaking process, the government did publicly rebuke him for a recent run-in with state-backed guards. With a CNN camera crew in tow, Bale attempted last month to visit the home of blind activist Chen Guangcheng before being physically turned away.
In an interview before that incident, Bale said he picked “The Flowers of War,” with dialogue divided about evenly between Mandarin and English, out of a desire to get outside his comfort zone and work with director Zhang Yimou.
“I have a great sense of adventure, and whatever adventure I can take out of moviemaking, I’m going to,” said Bale, who won a supporting actor Oscar for last year’s “The Fighter.” ”So I hope that not just with China but with just internationally that we’ll start to get much more mixing of nationalities and film cultures. And I think we’re going to get some really interesting results from that.”
Bale used an interpreter to communicate with Zhang during production of “Flowers,” set during the Japanese army’s brutal 1937 rampaging of Nanjing. The 37-year-old actor said they used gestures and developed “a good kind of a short-hand, kind of a lingua franca” to get through scenes.
Zhang said Bale suggested changes that the director incorporated into the finished film, which like other Chinese productions was subject to review by censors. (Bale notes that while he’s happy to make such suggestions, he has no hopes to direct: “I don’t want the responsibility.”)
The film was at the top of the Chinese box office last year and is being released in the U.S. on Friday. Bale stars as a mortician who pretends to be a priest and works to protect two groups of young women inside a Catholic cathedral during the invasion known as the Rape of Nanking.
In the interview, Bale also confirmed that July’s “The Dark Knight Rises” will be his final appearance as the Caped Crusader.
“There’s a time to finish anything. And this feels like the time,” Bale said.