Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman
TAA Sale Price: $13.95
“They’re my loyal, hardcore group of fans who I use to intimidate directors into giving me parts. I think it was a few years ago that someone started saying: ‘WE ARE BALEHEADS!’ I thought, yeah, I’m all for that—my own little private army.”
Christian Bale, Hotline Magazine
Remember the 1990s? It’s very weird for me to write about the inception of the Internet like a historical event, but in the past twenty years, the way we entertain, inform, and communicate has changed so much. Christian’s success on the Internet could only have happened in the early 1990s because movie buffs were just finding their voices online. People were craving information and looking for Web sites to visit. While the traditional media was dominated and controlled by studios, networks, and advertising agencies; the Internet was like the ultimate public broadcast channel—open and free to all.
And Christian Bale would be its first star.
1992. The Internet was in its infancy as far as commercial use was concerned. There was no Amazon, no eBay, no Craigslist, no Facebook, and no Twitter.
That same year, Tim Burton’s second Batman movie, Batman Returns, starring Michael Keaton as Batman, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and Danny DeVito as the Penguin was a box office smash, finishing off 1992 as the third-highest grossing film.
But 1992 was not looking like a good year for Christian. From an actor’s point of view, it’s dangerous to have box office bomb after bomb, because producers get scared of anyone who reeks of that fatal cologne, Box Office Poison. Once actors get a box office poison rep, they lose opportunities for leading roles. Worse still, the salary an actor can negotiate—his “quote”—depends on his box office track record.
There was plenty of blame to go around for Newsies’ and Swing Kids’ failures – two of Disney’s biggest bombs in recent history. Christian and his dad blamed first-time movie directors Kenny Ortega and Thomas Carter, as well as Disney, for not marketing either picture; and Christian’s agent.
However, Newsies did attract a couple of important fans. Winona Ryder loved Newsies and promptly ran out to rent everything Christian had appeared in. She was preparing to remake the American classic, Little Women, based on the book by Louisa May Alcott, and was on the hunt to cast the role of Laurie, the rich young boy next door.
Meanwhile, 2,200 miles from Los Angeles, in Toronto, my own connection to Christian was just beginning, though I hardly knew at the time how deeply involved I’d eventually become with him and his career.
I went to see Newsies with my friend Laurie Reid. We were both movie buffs with broad tastes. I loved everything from big epics to sci-fi (especially Star Trek) to David Lynch. Laurie was also a Trekker and a huge fan of old Hollywood musicals, and she was very curious about Newsies as Disney was proudly touting it as the first major studio musical to be released in decades.
To say that Laurie was smitten by Christian Bale’s performance would be an understatement. She loved his singing voice and she loved his dancing. He was unlike any other young actor emerging at that time. And when we discovered that this New York–accented street kid was the same English schoolboy from Empire of the Sun, we were both very impressed. Christian Bale appeared to be a classy young actor who was much more talented than his heavily hyped American competition at the time—actors like Ethan Hawke, Christian Slater, Stephen Dorff, or Skeet Ulrich. He was like a throwback to Hollywood’s golden era when actors had to have a range of skills and do more than just sulk, squint, and look “intense.”
So we formed the Society to Appreciate Obscure British Actors and made it our mission to watch the films of the actors who were under appreciated and unnoticed by Hollywood. While American movie buffs were worshipping at the altar of Tarantino, we were lining up at the Toronto Film Festival to watch the latest from Danny Boyle and Stephen Frears.
It’s funny that, for me, if Christian had not done a movie about China and, for Laurie, a couple of musicals, we probably would not have noticed or been so invested in his young and struggling career. Empire of the Sun, Newsies, Swing Kids, Prince of Jutland—could a budding actor sustain much more failure without giving up completely?
In retrospect, we were caught up in a moment that moved us from movie buff to fan. A movie buff can talk movies all day long—who’s their favorite actor, director, genre. A fan, as we saw it, was a movie buff who actively sought movies by a favorite actor or director. And since we were worried that Christian’s career was headed for disaster, we felt he needed fans.
The good news? I was in marketing communications for the largest software company in Canada at the time. I had experience in developing online marketing campaigns, so it felt natural for me to spread the news of Bale in cyberspace. On the Internet, we crossed paths with other movie buffs who had noticed Christian’s performance in Newsies and Swing Kids. But what many people didn’t realize, in the days before the IMDB, was that he was the same actor from Empire of the Sun. AOL had a large message board area dedicated to Talk About Actors. So did CompuServe. Once we started talking about Christian and his other films, we were quickly converting those movie buffs into Bale fans. We turned musical buffs into Newsies fans. We turned Spielberg buffs into Empire of the Sun fans. World War II movies your thing? Check out Swing Kids. It’s like Cabaret-lite! Check out Treasure Island at your video store! In those days, message boards had a maximum number of posts, so AOL and CompuServe would start new folders for our favorite actor. That’s how the seeds of the Christian Bale fan community—Baleheads—were sown.
We decided to write Christian letters of appreciation, laud, and encouragement. (a fancy way of saying “fan letter.)
Fatefully, I received a reply.
It was spring of 1993 when I arrived home to find an envelope with a Los Angeles postmark waiting for me. I opened the envelope to find a handwritten letter from Christian Bale. I was surprised. It was common belief that actors didn’t personally respond to fan mail but here was a letter, handwritten no less! Christian thanked me for my support and wrote that his most recent film, Prince of Jutland, had not yet found a distributor.
I decided to send another note to Christian. I told him about our Society for the Appreciation for Obscure British Actors and explained that even though his films were not commercial successes, we were promoting lots of chatter on the Internet. And Christian was a growing topic, especially once Newsies was eventually released on video.
A couple of months later, I received another letter from Christian, explaining that he was busy with a new film, Little Women, which was going to shoot in Victoria, British Columbia. He was playing the headstrong boy-next-door, Laurie, opposite Winona Ryder’s Jo March. “Perhaps,” Christian wrote, “You’ve heard of the book?”
Though my friend was annoyed that Christian had still not replied to her letters, she was thrilled that there was a line of communication developing. She and I continued to work diligently on the Internet, posting news about The Prince of Jutland and Little Women to anyone asking about Christian Bale. And, of course, we told everyone to rent Empire of the Sun, Treasure Island, Newsies, or Swing Kids. The Christian Bale folders on AOL and CompuServe were multiplying and becoming very active.
So Laurie and I decided to prepare a marketing proposal to help Christian take advantage of this growing online activity. It was a comprehensive marketing plan that would use the Internet to alert his fans to his upcoming movies and to check out what was available at the video store. If he authorized it, CCBALE (Cinemaphiles for Christian Bale Appreciation, Laud, and Encouragement) would be the first official online presence for any actor.
A month after we sent out the marketing proposal, there was a voice mail message waiting for me. The voice was a deep, rumbling basso; a rich, theatrical English accent.
“Hello? I… am… David Bale. I am Christian Bale’s father. I understand that you have been writing to my son. Would you be kind enough to ring us? Yes, ring us at our Manhattan Beach number.”
I replayed the message a number of times before calling Laurie.
“If this is your idea of a joke…” I began.
Even Laurie was surprised. No one was expecting a phone call in response to the marketing proposal. A curt rejection letter from the agent? Maybe. A letter asking for more details? Possibly. But definitely not this booming, possibly threatening voice on the phone.
What I remembered the most about the evening when I first called David Bale was that I had to wrap a towel around my head like a turban. I was nervous and sweat was pouring down my forehead. My hair was soaked as I anxiously practiced dialing the number. I had spent several hours analyzing David’s voice mail and I was worried that maybe Christian’s dad was not at all pleased about my correspondence with his son. After I nervously dialed the long-distance number, I still was not quite prepared to hear that same big, booming voice immediately answer.
“Yes, hi, hello. Mr. Bale? It’s Harrison Cheung from Toronto, Canada, returning your call…”
“Why yes, hullo-hullo! Delighted to talk to you, at last, Harrison! Delighted! We’ve read your wonderful proposal and your bio! Apparently a fellow Englishman, I see!” He laughed thunderously.
I moved the phone away from my ear, taken aback by David’s volume.
“Yes, Mr. Bale, I was actually born in Scotland. Glasgow.”
“Aye, Glaskie!” David roared. “Amazing! Cheung? Now, that’s a Chinese name, is it not, Harrison?”
“Yes, my parents are from Hong Kong.”
“Noble people, the Chinese! Noble! Hong Kong is an extraordinary place! Honor and integrity abound in your culture and heritage! Be proud! Be very proud!”
“Thank you, Mr. Bale.”
“Please, call me, David! I’m glad you called. You see, Christian and I are fascinated with your proposal, Harrison. Intrigued! We’d like to discuss this at length with you. Using the Internet for publicity is a brilliant idea, brilliant! Do you ever come down to Los Angeles at all?”
“Me? Well, I haven’t been to L.A. in a while. I was there…”
“Well, we’ll have to have you down! Christian is finishing up in Canada—say, that’s where you are, isn’t it? Canada! Beautiful country! Christian’s in Victoria making Little Women there with Winona Ryder! Then, he’s off to England to visit his mum and he’ll be back in L.A. after that. We’ll ring you so we can figure out when’s the best time to meet.
“I’m so glad we got in touch. I know you and Christian will get along very well, indeed! A godsend! A Chinese Scotsman! From Glasgow of all places! Oh dear, look at the time! I’m terribly sorry but I’m running late for an appointment. Good talking to you, Harrison! Goodbye!”
And with that, David hung up. It was like the aftermath of a tornado. My towel was soaked through.
For the next few months, I kept thinking about Christian and his unusual father. According to Christian’s official bio at the time, David Bale was a former pilot and now Christian’s manager. There wasn’t much more. As the weeks passed, I wondered if David had forgotten about our proposal.
By the end of November, David finally called.
“Hullo-hullo! Harrison! It’s David Bale.”
“Say, listen. Christian is coming back to L.A. for the premiere of Little Women. We’d like you to come to the premiere. We can talk about your proposal. How does that sound? Have you ever been to a Hollywood movie premiere?”
“No…” I tried to sound nonchalant, but in my head I was screaming, A Hollywood movie premiere? Are you kidding?
“It’s great fun. Now, do you have a nice suit? You need to dress up for these things.”
“Oh, yes, of course…”
“Wonderful. The premiere will be Sunday, December the 11th. Why don’t you come down on Saturday and stay until Monday? How does that sound?”
“December 11th? That’s next weekend.”
“Yes, please say you can make it. I’ve booked you in a nice English hotel near us. Barnabey’s. You’ll love it. It’s like an old English inn. We can go for a pint and talk about your marvelous proposal. Do you drink?”
“No, actually, I don’t.”
“Smart lad! Good boy! It’s an evil, a sin really. But I’m long past redemption.” David chuckled. “And Christian—he drives Americans mad because he simply cannot get drunk. My son can drink pint after pint and he cannot get drunk! It’s absolutely amazing, his constitution!”
By the time David had blown through his invitation and hung up, I had made up my mind to go. How could I pass up an invitation to a Hollywood premiere?
I left Toronto on a cold, miserable December morning, and stepped off the plane to the exotic scents of Los Angeles. I could smell jasmine in the air when I stepped outside the Arrivals at four o’clock in the afternoon. I gave the taxi driver the address to Barnabey’s Hotel in Manhattan Beach and was surprised at how close it was to the airport. Just half a mile south on Sepulveda Boulevard, Barnabey’s sat at the corner of Rosecrans, across from the Manhattan Village Mall.
On the inside, the hotel was an amazing replica of a Victorian manor—paneled walls, a plush red parlor. I felt as though I had stepped into Professor Higgins’s house from My Fair Lady. I checked into my elaborately decorated room, admiring the four-poster bed.
I promptly called David, but no one was home. I left a message that I had arrived, and settled in to wait.
After an hour, I decided to go across Sepulveda for a bite of dinner. I had a quick bite at the California Pizza Kitchen and hurried back to Barnabey’s to find a message waiting for me.
“Welcome to L.A.! Giving Christian his dinner. Shall ring again soon.”
I had missed the call.
Another half hour passed before I heard a knock at the door. Nervously, I peered through the peephole. I opened the door and found myself staring up at a giant of a man. David Bale was an extremely tall man who bore an uncanny resemblance to Adam West, the actor who played Batman in the 1960’s TV series. Tanned, with a deeply lined face and graying hair, David wore a blue denim shirt and black trousers. He smiled broadly, shook hands, and took out a handkerchief to blow his nose.
“Hullo, Harrison! At last we meet! Look at you! Definitely Chinese! Come, my car is outside.”
We headed out to David’s VW Jetta.
“Christian just arrived last night from London and he is still a bit peevish,” David said. “Atrabilious. Pay him no mind. It’s just jetlag.”
“Oh.” I was impressed and intimidated by David’s vocabulary.
“But he is looking forward to meeting you, Harrison. He’s talked about nothing all day. Absolutely nothing else!”
We drove just a few blocks from Barnabey’s, and made our way onto Oak Avenue, a tree-lined street that didn’t have sidewalks, making the line of large homes look as if they were on a remote country lane.
David made a hard turn into a driveway, and I got my first glimpse of The House of Bale. It looked like an overgrown two-story villa, large, colorful and sun-bleached. The faded stucco walls, arched and recessed entryway, and slate tile roof seemed homey, and not foreboding. Randomly placed throughout the front yard were assorted bowls of what looked like cat food. A giant mature palm tree marked a natural barrier from one neighbor, while a high hedge bordered the other neighbor’s yard.
“Welcome to our home!” David had jumped out of the car and was making his way quickly to the front door
The inside of the house was a disaster. I first noticed the sharp smell of cat litter. A dirty wall-to-wall gray Berber carpet had clearly seen too much traffic. As if on cue, two cats raced by. A staircase was immediately to the right of the front entrance; each step had a pair of shoes or a pile of scripts. The banister was covered with sticky notes. A large golden retriever, in obvious need of a bath, was sitting in front of the fireplace, its tail thumping in welcome. I heard a scrabbling noise and saw a Jack Russell terrier racing down the stairs. The little dog ran straight to me, sniffed my leg, and then ran back upstairs.
“That’s Mojo checking you out,” David explained. “He’s Christian’s dog. Over by the fire is Codger. They’re both rescue dogs. Do you like dogs? We’ve always had dogs ever since Christian was a baby!”
David beckoned me down the hall to the kitchen. It was a fascinating place. Books, more scripts, and unfinished plates of food were piled on one counter.
David directed me to sit at the kitchen table while he put on a kettle.
“We love Manhattan Beach. My son, Christian, loves the water. We’re just a walk away from the beach. You can go to the pier and go surfing or swimming or ride a bicycle on the trails, if you like.”
Mojo suddenly ran into the room. He ran to me and put his paws up on my leg.
David laughed: “There’s Mojo! There’s a boy! Christian named him from The Doors song, “Mr. Mojo Rising”?”
I looked at Mojo’s eager brown eyes. He seemed like a very happy little dog. Mojo jumped down, rolled over on his back, and looked up with a silly doggy grin, his tongue lolling and tiny white paws waving in the air.
David was thrilled.
“Will you look at that, Harrison? He likes you! He trusts you! Animals can sense these things! No animal would expose its stomach to a potential predator!”
I playfully grabbed at Mojo’s paws and rubbed his round belly, thankful for the vote of confidence.
“Christian and I are very involved in animal rights. Do you eat meat?”
David’s face crumpled.
“What a shame! We can cure you of that illness. Eating meat is a mortal sin, Harrison! How can you eat the flesh of animals to save your own life? That’s just wrong! Dead wrong! ‘Thou shall not kill’, remember? Did you know that human teeth were never designed to chew meat? Only fruits, nuts, and vegetables! Our teeth are flat! Like our gentle cousins, the gorillas.”
I nodded politely. I normally didn’t like being lectured about my eating habits but David’s charm was irresistible.
“Ah, here comes Christian now.” David turned eagerly to face approaching footsteps. I followed his look, eager for my first glimpse of the young actor.
A lean, lanky figure appeared in the kitchen doorway. Good-looking with short-cropped brown hair, his angular face was immediately recognizable. Though he was tall, standing next to his giant of a father, Christian looked short, almost elfin. Wearing a tight white T-shirt and baggy cargo pants, his skinny body arched slightly with poor posture. His long pale arms were dotted with freckles and moles. English complexion, I thought. He seemed tense, almost uncomfortable. His brow was ever so slightly knitted, and his lips were pursed as if he were sucking a sour candy or pretending to be a duck. With his oddly tentative stance at the doorway, he looked like a moody male model, impatiently waiting for his turn down the runway.
Father and son were both staring at me now. David was grinning expectantly. Christian was not.
David made the introductions.
“Christian, this is Harrison, come all the way to visit us from Canada! And this, of course, is my son”[small pause for dramatic effect], “Christian Bale!”
“Hi,” I stood up to shake his hand. “I’m very pleased to meet you.”
Christian mumbled something in reply and we shook hands. I was surprised to hear that his voice was so light and high-pitched. In the movies, his voice sounded a little deeper. And with his refined, almost delicate facial features, I was also surprised that Christian’s hands were rough and calloused and his fingernails were chewed to the quick.
Christian turned to his father.
“What does a guy have to do around here to get a clean towel?”
“What? Oh dear! Oh dear!” David scurried to another part of the kitchen towards a small laundry nook. “No worries, Moosh, there are some clean towels in the dryer!” He pulled a couple of gray towels from the dryer and handed them to his son.
‘Moosh’ was an odd nickname that I had never heard before. I chalked it up to something English.
Christian grabbed one towel and turned his attention back to me, staring with his penetrating hazel eyes with all the thrill of a botanist examining some new kind of weed.
David jumped in, presumably to cover for Christian’s obvious silence: “Harrison, are you hungry? Would you like some chowder? A neighbor down the street made us this huge pot of homemade—”
“I thought she made the chowder for me,” Christian interrupted.
“Yes, Moosh. But there’s plenty left. You already had a couple of bowls, so I didn’t think you’d want more.”
“I might want more later, Dad.” Christian glared at his father and I decided to look out the back door that led to a kidney-shaped swimming pool.
“Of course, son, of course! There’s plenty of chowder for you! Plenty!” By the sound of David’s voice, he was clearly used to calming Christian.
“I’m going to take a shower. I’ll be right back.”
“Don’t you want to sit and chat with Harrison?” David pointed to the kitchen table. A copy of my marketing proposal was on the table.
“No, I need to take a shower, Dad. If I had had a clean towel in my bathroom, I wouldn’t be keeping our guest waiting, would I?” At that, Christian turned and marched back upstairs. For a moment, there was an awkward silence but David brought over a mug of tea.
“Sit, Harrison! Christian won’t be long.”
“I think I’ll take a stroll outside, David.” I headed to the backyard and started to walk around the pool. A curious Mojo followed me.
I walked around the pool fifteen times, trying to process everything I had seen this strange and wonderful evening.
I made my way back to the kitchen table while Mojo ran over to the foot of the stairs, waiting for his young master. David smiled.
Christian came back down, now showered and fully dressed in clean clothes. He automatically turned to the kitchen counter where David had a steaming mug of tea waiting for him. Mojo was just at his heels. I was impressed. Clearly David anticipated his son’s every need.
The three of us sat around the kitchen table. While David began extolling the benefits of the marketing proposal, Christian was flipping through the pages, looking at each page intently. He read slowly and purposely.
“Christian,” David was saying, “you have no idea how revolutionary this is! To use the Internet for publicity is brilliant! Your fans could visit a Web site or message board and always know when your movies are coming out or when your videos are to be released. Tell him, Harrison! Tell him how this works.”
I cleared my throat: “Well, you see, there are different places on the Internet where movie buffs can post questions. On AOL. On CompuServe. Or in a newsgroup. Thousands of people ask questions like: ‘Where are they now?’ or ‘Can you help me ID an actor?’ That sort of thing.”
“Astonishing,” David muttered.
“With you, Christian,” I suddenly felt awkward as that was the first time I was addressing him by name, “with you and your movies, we often see people posting questions like: ‘Whatever happened to the boy from Empire of the Sun?’ We reply and tell them your name and let them know that your current movies can be rented at the video store. So, you see, we expand your word-of-mouth that way.
“Someone else will post: ‘That guy from Newsies? Wow, I can’t believe it’s the same kid from Empire of the Sun!’ And that gets people curious, so you now have people renting your other titles. They connect the dots and see that you’re one and the same person. And that works for Swing Kids too. People who’ve seen Swing Kids may not know about Newsies or Empire. People who’ve seen Newsies may not know about Swing Kids.”
“Brilliant!” David muttered again. “Absolutely brilliant!”
“And that’s just in the Actors’ folders,” I continued. “I can hunt down Spielberg fans and remind them of Empire and let them know what you’re doing now. You know that ‘girl in red’ scene in Schindler’s List?”
Christian nodded slowly, looking almost like he was unwilling to concede a point.
“Well, it fascinates a lot of people. So I post in the Spielberg folders that he used that technique first in Empire—with your little red school jacket lost in the crowds of Shanghai. I post in the War Movies folders and remind them of Empire and Swing Kids and I post in the Swing Music folders about Swing Kids. That’s called cross-pollination”
“Absolutely right!” David muttered yet again, urging me on. “Brilliant!”
I continued: “And it can be used for editorial purposes as well. Fans can write ‘letters to the editor.’ That impresses a magazine because they always want to know what article generates the most feedback. It helps them gauge what’s hot. And reporters can come to the site and read interviews, download your biography, press notes, pictures—lots of stuff.”
Christian’s nostrils flared, and I wasn’t sure if he was impressed or angry. He continued to flip through the pages of the proposal. Suddenly, he jumped up and started pacing around the table, speaking without actually looking at anyone as he thought out each phrase.
“Harrison? Look, I can’t stand publicity. I’ve hated it since I was a child, I’m sure Dad has told you. If we do this Internet thing, I won’t have to do anything?”
“No, it’s very low effort.” I took a deep breath to continue my pitch. “Consider your Web site as your own television network, movie theater, or radio station. Your site tells your audience what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and what you will be working on. Your fans around the world will know what to anticipate. Your Web site becomes the Mecca for your fans and helps you tap into an audience that looks forward to your next films. If you do a magazine interview, reprinting or linking it on your Web site multiplies the number of readers. It lets fans know when and where to find articles.
“And most importantly, consider your official Web site to be a ‘virtual documentary’ of your career. All we’d need is a supply of pictures to post on the site and to be kept up to date with what’s happening with your movies. You know, release dates, magazine interviews, things like that. It’s a way of getting your fans, your audience, to know what’s happening with you, that’s all.”
“How much will this cost?” Christian asked.
“There are start-up costs,” I began. “The Web site will need to be hosted…”
David jumped in: “No worries, Christian. I’ll iron out those details with Harrison.”
“Sure,” I continued. “We could run contests for stuff. If your agent or publicist could keep me on a mailing list…”
David snorted derisively. “No chance of that. Agents don’t know anything about the Internet. Don’t worry, Harrison. I’ll mail or fax you what you need. And Christian doesn’t have a publicist.”
“No,” Christian cut in. “I don’t have one. I don’t need one. I can’t afford one.”
“Good. Well, that’s it, really? It looks good. Any details, talk to my dad. He takes care of those things for me. Oh, by the way, your proposal says that this will be my official site? I don’t want to sound arrogant or self-serving, so can we make this about the fans?”
“Sure,” I agreed. “It’s your official site, and it will be the home of the fan club. What do you think of CCBALE? Cinemaphiles for Christian Bale Appreciation, Laud, and Encouragement?”
Christian finally cracked a smile. “No way. Absolutely not. Forget that. Let’s just call it the Christian Bale Fan Club.” He glanced again at the kitchen clock and marched over to shake my hand. “Nice meeting you, Harrison. We’ll see you tomorrow at the premiere, right?” And then he was gone, with Mojo scampering after him.
A delighted David Bale looked at me.
“I think Christian likes you!”
“Really? You can tell from just that?”
“Absolutely. I know my own son. He likes you and respects you because he was impressed with the marketing plan.”
“I don’t know.” I looked down at the binder, slightly stunned at how quickly the evening had progressed. I wondered if David had already prepped Christian about the proposal. I wondered if they were being nice or if they had recognized an urgent need for my help.
David looked furtively back at the kitchen door. He then leaned toward me and spoke in a conspiratorial whisper.
“I need to take you into my confidence. Can I trust you?”
“I feel I can trust you. It is in your honorable Chinese nature.” I managed not to flinch.
“Christian is a young man but in many ways he is still a child.” He took a long shuddering breath. “When his mother abandoned us, I had to take over the roles of both mother and father. Unfortunately, I can’t cook. I can’t! I’m just a useless old man, to be honest.” He wiped away a tear. “Because of the abandonment, Christian may not seem very warm or cordial. He was emotionally damaged by his mother’s betrayal. He has few friends. How can he possibly trust anyone after his own mother leaves him? How, I ask you, how?”
David’s open emotions disarmed me – I had never met such an expressive person before.
“So please don’t misunderstand his reticence. He likes you. I can tell. I know you and Christian will get along. Christian likes quiet people.”
“And what makes you think I’m a quiet person, David?”
David laughed. “But aren’t all Chinese quiet people?” He laughed again at my pained reaction to his stereotyping.
“You shall be a wonderful addition to our family, Harrison. This is a family business and it can’t possibly succeed unless we’re a united family.”
I was shocked by the suddenness of David’s offer, but thrilled. Was I really adopting a family? My own family was cautious, full of tales of worry. David Bale was like the dream dad – expressive, encouraging, optimistic. This was heady stuff. I’d gone from just another letter-writing fan to sitting at the kitchen table in Christian Bale’s house. But this was it! Officially sanctioned and endorsed, I excitedly thought to the days and weeks ahead to when I’d begin building the first official actor’s Web site.
When I returned to Toronto four days later, a package was waiting for me from David. I put aside the box and opened up the letter first.
You are using your skills and training in marketing to do for Christian and his career what normally only a major star would get at great expense from an agency, management team, and studios.
Importantly, you are doing this within the restraints and wishes requested by Christian. Even more importantly, you are honest and honorable about all this—giving a security and trust to Christian that hardly any actor has ever obtained from agency/marketing representation. It is actually not possible to thank you fully, nor appropriate, for by behaving with integrity and upholding Christian’s particular and personal wishes, you are being a friend.
The industry absolutely recognizes that an actor’s abilities lie in the number and strength of his fans. Putting Christian on the Internet is a stroke of genius. Your knowledge and expertise in creating a Web page enables Christian to gain and increase recognition on an international basis. The studios all concur that only films with an international appeal can succeed now and in the future.
One does not encounter this kind of unconditional generosity and friendship hardly at all in life. You have me somewhat astonished. Please do understand that for Christian, it is many times more astonishing and personal, compound that with his almost total dislike of publicity due to the extreme pressures put on him at a very young and impressionable age, and it becomes overwhelming.
Inside the box was a bottle of Glenfiddich whiskey! What a strange gift, I thought, since I had told him that I wasn’t a drinker. On the other hand, David had made a fuss about my Scottish birthplace. It was thoughtful and odd. It was, as I’d soon learn, very David Bale.
I was hooked. I was gobsmacked. This was more than what any fan could hope for.
This was going to be fun.
TAA Sale Price: $13.95