Since an audio clip of Christian Bale’s profanity-laced explosion on the set of Terminator Salvation hit the web earlier this week, it seems as though everyone on the blogosphere is weighing in on it. Of course, one can hardly blame the Internet’s impulsive finger wagging whenever a public figure does something embarrassing. However, is it possible that the nearly four-minute tirade directed at the film’s director of photography Shane Hurlbut—who was apparently adjusting lighting on the set during a crucial scene between Bale (savior of mankind John Connor) and Bryce Dallas Howard (his wife, Kate)—has been taken completely out of context? Whatever the case, to quote Bale, the whole thing is “f*cking distracting.”
Don’t get me wrong, the Dark Knight star has been accused of flying off the handle before. As ABC News reports, the frightening on-set outburst came just days after Bale's July arrest in London, where he was apprehended after an allegedly heated argument with his mother and sister. Needless to say, it must have been a rough month for him. Whether this behavior hints at underlying anger management issues remains to be seen.
Some, such as Ain’t It Cool News founder Harry Knowles, have rushed to Bale’s defense. “Bale had indeed warned the DP on multiple occasions about messing with lights while the cameras were rolling, and Bale was in the midst of a painful scene with Bryce, what was described to me as being the emotional center of the film and his character for the film,” Knowles writes, adding that “the DP really was doing something that professional DPs with experience just don’t do. Not During a performance.”
He makes a valid point, and claims that he received the inside scoop from someone who was on-set that day. If Hurlbut had repeatedly ruined Bale's concentration, then a little verbal scolding was probably in order. It’s when the drawn-out tantrum devolves more than once into threats of physical violence that it becomes a concern.
“I’m going to f*cking kick your f*cking ass if you don’t shut up for a second,” Bale warns as others on-set try to calm him down. No matter what Hurlbut was doing that ruined Bale’s scene, threatening to beat someone up over a Terminator sequel is a bit much.
While troubling, it’s important to realize that we as the general public have only heard a small piece of this story. The saga behind this incident is sure to play out for a long while, or at least until the press gets bored with it and online jokesters get tired of remixing Bale’s rant into hilarious dance songs and even funnier soundboards ideal for prank phone calls (not that I condone that sort of thing).
Should we be passing judgment? Not quite yet. For now, it’s likely that fault lies on both Bale and Hurlbut’s shoulders. Hurlbut should not have been messing with the lights and distracting the actors, while Bale should not have continued to go off on someone long after they’d apologized. It’s a gray issue, and it’s ugly all around.