Russell Crowe and Christian Bale Interview

Talking guns, horses, westerns, and a couple of Batman questions thrown in...

Russell Crowe and Christian Bale were in Los Angeles recently to promote their new Western, 3:10 to Yuma, a remake of the 1957 original which starred Glenn Ford.

The movie is based in Arizona in the late 1800's, where infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) and his vicious gang of thieves and murderers have plagued the Southern Railroad. When Wade is captured, Civil War veteran Dan Evans (Christian Bale), struggling to survive on his drought-plagued ranch, volunteers to deliver him alive to the '3:10 to Yuma', a train that will take the killer to trial. On the trail, Evans and Wade, each from very different worlds, begin to earn each other's respect. But with Wade's outfit on their trail - and dangers at every turn - the mission soon becomes a violent, impossible journey toward each man's destiny.

We attended a press-conference with both actors, and here is what they had to say:

They say that when you talk to actors about why they became actors, they talk about this idea of when they were young they wanted to dress up and being in a world of fantasy and all about the kinds of reasons ... is doing a movie like this reinforces in some ways why you guys became actors in the first place?

Christian Bale: Well it's all about the dress up.

Doing a western ... cowboy hats, guns...

Russell Crowe: That's pretty good, isn't it? It's a good list: ride horses, play with guns, speak in a funny voice, wear pointy boots. It's a good list in terms of what you are talking about and you would approach something like this totally thinking "this can be pretty fun", until I actually looked at it and I said "you know I spent this time of the year in Arizona making a western back in '93-'94 and that was pleasant. It was warm during the day, a little cold late at night, but you know nothing much this could be fun" and then I realized once I gotten there, that Santa Fe is actually seven-and-a-half thousand feet above sea level and its now going to be significantly colder, so you know Peter Fonda actually started a scale: he said one day, he made a stand and said he couldn't act on location in period-costume at below 13 degrees and I think SAG should look into this and I think there should be a scale done and I think there should be certain temperatures for example that you can wear a cape and stuff, and a rubber suit.

Christian Bale: I need that.

Russell Crowe: Certain temperatures were you shouldn't.

You have a love of horses too Russell, right?

Russell Crowe: Absolutely

Did you bring a lot of that passion into a project like this?

Russell Crowe: Yeah, I mean I really enjoyed the thought of the story. The main thing is reading the script and seeing the dynamic of the characters and that looked like it was going to be fun. So that's why I did it.

What appealed to you about the time period of the movie?

Russell Crowe: That it was a short shoot.

I mean the actual time period where it took place.

Christian Bale: Oh that time period.

Russell Crowe: I'll leave that one to you, Christian.

Christian Bale : I think it's the appeal of all Westerns, just it being a time of almost anarchy compared to nowadays when a man really does have to be self-sufficient. And I think nowadays we can get away a lot with being very vague about having opinions about things, beliefs in something, you know. You can kind of get away with being vague about it because there's not much that seems to directly affect our lives, but at that time you had to be a much stronger minded individual in order to survive and I find that appealing to watch people who really have to test their mettle every day.

Russell, how selective are you about what you take on?... I mean you work with...

Christian Bale: He can't be too selective because look who he's working with...

What are your essential criteria now to taking something on?

Russell Crowe: It's the same as it's always been. What's the story? What's the character? That's my primary focus when I read a script. I don't think that I've become more selective over time. I think I came into it being selective. So I do things that appeal to me and they are not always going to be the things that the head of a studio thinks will appeal as well.

Are good characters hard to you to find?

Russell Crowe: Yeah, I figure they have always been that way, especially in my life and in the movies, you get a lot of opportunities that come with a big paycheck and all the sort of stuff but they're not necessarily appealing. A lot of people are absolutely dead set certain this is something that you will love to do or whatever, and then you start reading and it's not something that turns you on and I think you have to stay true to yourself in that way. I read a script, and if I get goosebumps, if I kind of like what the potential of it is, then that's the thing that I do.

(Director) Jim (Mangold) said he felt, Gladiator felt like a western to him in its structure, the idea of vengeance. Is that something you agree with?

Russell Crowe: I suppose it could be a western if you're writing your review in Athens. Yeah, I don't now ... that's probably more of a filmmaking sort of question really, as we really didn't think about it that way at the time, but you have common grounds in terms of horses I suppose.

Christian, have you been approached to be in the "Justice League" movie.

Christian Bale: No, because Russell is really trying to get that one ... I don't want to tread on his toes.

Russell Crowe: He was offered the Green Lantern, but there's no cape, so he said "No fucking way ... If I don't get the cape, I won't be in the movie"

How do you feel about Batman being recast since you are kind of the new Batman of this era?

Christian Bale: You know, as long as it doesn't tread on the toes of what we're doing, then it's all right, but I think it would be better if it got released after we finish the third one.

Is the relationship that you guys have on screen ... it's a friendship, but it's a friendship kind of based on hate.

Russell Crowe: It would be hateship then ... or a dislikeship.

I mean, was that discussed off-screen, that kind of look for the movie?

Christian Bale: We didn't do a whole lot of talking about it off screen, I mean I tend to feel like if it's working, it's working ... and it was working. We didn't have to sort of sit and dissect the whole thing, it was pretty evident, it was right there ...both company knew it, we are very strong and firm ideas of about who we are and the characters and everything, and I think it's all right there and self-evident.

Russell Crowe: It's unfortunate that he gets cocked at the end there, because it would have been fun to go and do it again, in perhaps a more moderate climate.

Apparently you're the quickest draw, is what (director) Jim (Mangold) was telling us earlier, in terms of the guns. Where does that comfort zone come from?

Christian Bale: Russell or Me?

Russell

Christian Bale: Russell, yeah that's true. You see that at the end. And listen, I didn't even try to compete here. I was a rifle man. I had this crap revolver. It was this old soldier's conversion thing. I didn't even bother.

Russell Crowe: I was really lucky when I came over to do "The Quick and the Dead" back in '93 that I met this guy Thell Reed, he's an armorer, and because coming from Australia, I didn't have any experience with a gun culture. So I'd never actually held a handgun until I was on the set of "The Quick and the Dead" and what that gave Thell was a complete blank slate, so he could sort of put the information in my head that you need to do that sort of thing and over time, and it's been a long time now that I've known Mr. Reed, and I've probably done half-a-dozen or more movies with him, and he just sort of keeps giving me the tips. We've actually done silly things like a long time ago gone off and done shooting competitions together as a team and stuff. But that's a very specific skill; you don't get to use that very often, so it's good when a western comes around and you can use it.

Do you think Wade is a rock star of his day in some ways?

Russell Crowe: Yeah, but its infamy really, it's not fame. Because you don't know what happens to Wade in the future, I always imagined that he was just good at what he did and somewhere after, he must have a hacienda somewhere, which is probably what he's describing to the barmaid without fully explaining to her that he's cashed-up. But because we don't know, I mean just from the information you get in the movie, he seems to have gathered an awful amount, a large amount of money in a short period of time and we don't see that he has any real expenses.

Christian, your name is above the title, you're a superhero. Do you see yourself as a movie star?

Christian Bale: I'm a superhero?

Is that the kind of career that you want because you also take these very difficult and outside of mainstream roles as well?

Christian Bale: I don't look at any difference between movies. Movie's no different for me about where the finance is coming from, it's just about the story and do I like the story and that's the end of it. So whether it's a studio movie ... whether it's a bigger market end piece ... whether it's a small piece, it doesn't matter a damn to me. It's just about the story and what I'm interested in.

3:10 to Yuma arrives in theatres on which arrives in theatres on September 7th.