Christian Bale talks about the writing process of “Amsterdam”


“Lots of eggs, lots of coffee,” says Christian Bale. The English actor is not ordering breakfast during this Zoom interview from New York. He describes the process of working on “Amsterdam,” in theaters October 7, with director-screenwriter David O. Russell.

The two met several times a week over a five-year span at Fromin’s Deli in Santa Monica, California, where they took pages of history and turned them into film.

It went on for so long for so many years that shapeshifter Bale had to change his order depending on what he was filming at the moment.

“Christian was going away and making movies in the meantime, so his breakfasts were changing. When he was doing ‘Vice,’ he had to eat a ton of it,” Russell recalled.

“We wrote so much during these sessions that I have closets full of 14 different versions of the script,” says Bale, 48. “The other day I was in my sock drawer and found two more scripts.”

These restaurant work sessions produced “Amsterdam”, a post-war film about three best friends (played by Bale, Margot Robbie and John David Washington) – repairmen who can handle any situation. The three, who meet during the war, find themselves in the middle of a shocking secret plot hatching in America. Bale plays Dr. Burt Berendsen, who loses an eye, and nearly his life, while unraveling a new mystery.

The star-laden cast also includes Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Chris Rock, Taylor Swift and Rami Malek.

Next up for Bale is “The Pale Blue Eye,” about a veteran detective who investigates a murder with a young cadet who will become world-renowned author, Edgar Allan Poe.

Review-Journal: What was the appeal of spending so many years working on “Amsterdam?”

Christian Ball: It was wonderful to be involved from the beginning for five or even six years and see how the script evolved. You get to the point where it really consumes you. The subject was so fascinating. This is a film about dealing with adversity wrapped up in an epic journey.

Is the message that friendship is the most important thing in life?

It’s about how we as people deal with hope and pain. You can choose to deal with your suffering with optimism and hope. It’s about not being broken by life – and friends certainly help along the way, as does family.

Speaking of family, your grandmother lived through the Blitz in England during World War II. What lessons did she teach you about that time?

She told me it was the best moment of her life. Yes, it was dangerous. You didn’t know if you would survive another night. But it was the best time of her life because she truly lived for each day.

You have worked several times with David O. Russell, notably on “The Fighter” and “American Hustle”. What brings you back?

Like any great filmmaker, David is very unique. He is very special and has his own perspective. Perspective is what makes great filmmakers fascinating. I love that he invites me back. … It’s always a trip, but this time I was there the whole trip, including sitting in restaurants and writing on napkins and being stunned by real events in history – things that I had never heard of – ever.

What kind of preparation did you do to get into that historic vibe?

I listened to period music, watched documentaries and read books. It was a joy from start to finish.

What was it like wearing a fake eye?

It was up to Chris Galahad, my makeup artist, to create the prosthetic eye. It was Robert De Niro who stopped my fake eye from becoming my real eye. I’ve had it too long. I joke that egg whites were growing around this thing.

What prompted you to choose a role?

It is about immersion. What can I immerse myself in next? And it’s a question of emotion. When I read a script and think about it, it’s about the feeling that I have and if I can bring that feeling to the screen. I never say no because I’m afraid to. I think you’re not afraid of anything when you recognize why you might be afraid of this thing, but you do it anyway. You don’t know the edge until you step over it.

But do you think this whole movie star thing is seriously overrated?

I’m not very good at being the center of attention. I don’t really like it unless I’m acting and then the character can be the center of attention. I am a very discreet person. It’s strange to hear the word movie star. I am an actor. I’m not cut from the movie star cloth.

The time spent in Amsterdam during the war was the most electric and awakening for these characters. What is your personal Amsterdam?

I think my Amsterdam is all that allows me to become so healthy obsessed with something that I can’t think of anything else. I get that by working with great directors and having wonderful cinematic experiences. I get that from my family. And I get that from motorcycles.

What’s your idea of ​​a wonderful Sunday if you’re not working?

Of course, the family – and a motorcycle ride. I just like to sail and see where the day might take me. It’s the anticipation that makes a great day.


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