Christian Bale on the challenges of playing Moses

By inSing EditorMovies - 12 December 2014 8:00 AM | Updated 30 December 2014

Christian Bale on the challenges of playing Moses

The idea of Christian Bale and Ridley Scott working together in a film has been germinating for some time, and Bale was not the only one who believe the combination would work.

Bale, 40, said in an interview: “Russell Crowe and Gary Oldman had told me he was one of their favourite directors. The two of them said, ‘You’ve got to meet with him. I’m telling you, you guys would get along well. You’d work together well.

“Ridley and I later set up a meeting and decided, ‘All right, when something comes up, let’s do something together.' Then he came back and asked if I wanted to do ‘Exodus’ as Moses."

Bale is a man who thrives on challenges. Once he recovered from the initial surprise of being asked to play the part, he was thrilled to take it on.

READ: ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ movie review

He said: “I had to digest the whole ridiculous idea of somebody asking me to play somebody as important as Moses, and consider that for a little while. I did a little research and just felt like, ‘Yeah, you know what? I want to work with Rid, so let’s give this a shot.

“I always love things where the odds are against you, and obviously, I know that there will be many people who will be saying, ‘How dare he play this character?’”

On the other hand, there will be also those – including Scott, Crowe and Oldman – who know that it makes perfect sense.


Director Ridley Scott (left) with Christian Bale (right) on the set of 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' | Photo: 20th Century Fox

Bale is a powerhouse – one of the very best actors of his generation with a remarkable CV stretching back to his breakout role, as a 13 year-old, when he delivered a brilliant performance as an English boy detained in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp for Steven Spielberg's film, ‘Empire of the Sun’.

READ: Bale checks 'Life of Brian' to make sure his Moses isn't Pythonesque

Since then, he has proven to be extraordinarily diverse – playing a music journalist in ‘Velvet Goldmine’, rock legend Bob Dylan in ‘I’m Not There’, a psychopathic banker in ‘American Psycho’ and an insomniac worker on the edge of insanity in ‘The Machinist’.

His three films as Batman/Bruce Wayne for director Christopher Nolan have defined contemporary cinema’s approach to the comic-book genre. Bale won an Oscar for his portrayal of boxing trainer Dicky Eklund in ‘The Fighter’ and received an Academy Award nomination for his role as conman Irving Rosenfeld in ‘American Hustle’.


Christian Bale as Moses in 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' | Photo: 20th Century Fox

‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ gave a very different challenge. Filmed in 3D, Scott’s film will tell the extraordinary biblical story of Moses.

Abandoned by a desperate mother as a baby after the Egyptian rulers order the murder of all boys born to slaves, he is found in the bulrushes by the pharaoh’s daughter and raised in the royal household, where he grows up alongside Ramses (Joel Edgerton), the future monarch.

Later, Moses has a vision of God and turns his back on his privileged life to lead his people, the Israelites, from enslavement.

Scott’s film will feature groundbreaking special effects, including some of the more fantastic elements such as the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea.

Bale said of the story: “It’s about two brothers – not by blood, but by bond – who grow up together, but become absolute enemies, and surprise each other. We kind of presented them as two atheists, who understand the necessity for the Egyptian pantheon of gods in order to rule powerfully and effectively.

“Then suddenly you get one, Moses, who is exiled, who experiences this purification in the desert, who has a calling, and who returns, compelled by God, by a voice that is telling him what to do.

“Then you get the other, Ramses, who has always been sceptical, but now that he is the pharaoh, he’s really starting to convince himself that it’s true – that he is a living god – and he’s enjoying that.

“It’s an unstoppable force and an immovable object. You’ve one guy who is compelled by the voice of God, telling him to liberate, and the other one, who has come to believe he is a god, and that sets up a wonderful confrontation.”

Scott, and screenwriter Steve Zaillian (‘Schindler’s List’, ‘Moneyball’), who wrote the script with Bill Collage and Adam Cooper, have tried to remain true to the biblical story while using the very latest tools available to a modern filmmaker to realise some of the more fantastical elements.

“I can’t predict what religious audiences will feel,” Bale said, “when there is a story that is so intensely personal.”

“It’s beyond that thing of making a film based on a book. Even in those circumstances, you so often find people saying, ‘I just cannot get into the film because that’s not how I pictured it.’

“The book istheir personal film and that’s what’s so wonderful about literature. When you’re watching someone’s adaptation of a book, suddenly you’re seeing someone else’s film, and you’re going, ‘That’s not my film.’ Now, when it comes to religious texts, where people absolutely live and die by these words, how on earth do you approach that?


‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ will feature epic battle scenes and Bale relished the physical challenge that it presented, although he admitted that a motorcycle accident and the injuries he suffered in 2012 hampered his preparations. 

“Right before ‘American Hustle’ I was racing on my motorcycle and had an accident. I’m not very agile with my left arm,” he revealed.

 “I had the accident after I first met with Ridley. But after the accident, I couldn’t do anything with my arm. Suddenly I had to fire a bow and arrow and my arm was shaking like crazy because the nerves hadn’t grown back properly.

“But everything came good by the time we started filming – my nerves had grown back. The body is just phenomenal. And yes, there was horse-riding and I love doing that. I don’t do it (offscreen), but I’ve always enjoyed doing it for films. And the archery was good, too. I really enjoy those physical tasks, things that you get to acquire as a skill for films.”

‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ is now showing in cinemas

Interview courtesy of 20th Century Fox

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Exodus: Gods And Kings
  • Exodus: Gods And Kings

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