In July 2008, actor Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, The Fighter) went into a rage on the set of Terminator Salvation. His profanity-laced tirade was directed at Director of Photography Shane Hurlbut who had inadvertently walked in front of Bale’s line of sight, distracting him from the scene he was performing. Bale attacked Hurlbut’s professionalism, telling him that he was “trashing his scene.” Bale continued on for several minutes berating the DP about why he would do such a thing. He said: Am I going to walk around and rip your f***ing lights down, in the middle of a scene? Then why the f*** are you walking right through? Ah-da-da-dah, like this in the background. What the f*** is it with you? What don’t you f***ing understand? You got any f***ing idea about, hey, it’s f***ing distracting having somebody walking up behind Bryce in the middle of the f***ing scene? Give me a f***ing answer! What don’t you get about it? Bale would later appear on the Kevin and Bean Morning Show on KROQ (Los Angeles) and provide some context for his behavior. He claimed that he was channeling his character from the film and started to confuse fiction from reality. He also minimized the damage by saying he and Hurlbut had worked things out already and that he wasn’t the prima donna that many people were saying he was.
Key Apologia Strategies:
Mortification, Minimization, Bolstering
Transcript: Kevin and Bean morning show
Ralph: I have been complaining to you, Kevin and Bean, about how you’ve been treating the whole Christian Bale story. I do not think it’s funny what you’ve been doing to Christian Bale.
DJ: No, I don’t know that at all.
Ralph: I don’t like the way you’ve been mocking him
DJ: You didn’t protest that at all.
Ralph: I find it offensive, personally, and that voice that Bean does, where he pretends to be Christian Bale and goes off on that rant we’ve heard” and I would like to take this opportunity to personally apologize to Mr. Christian Bale. We’ve got him on the phone “ Mr. Bale “
CB: Hello there guys.
Ralph: Hello, Christian, how are you?
CB: How you doin’ fellas?
Ralph: Doing well, sir.
CB: To whom am I talking to?
Ralph: This is Ralph, Kevin and Bean, and Lisa May’s also here in the studio with us, Christian.
CB: Oh all right, well, listen, I spoke to you guys a few years back. You seem like good guys and I wanted to talk with you about it.
DJs: Oh no!
Are we being punked here?
No you’re not. This is really Christian Bale.
Please tell us it’s not!
CB: Believe me, this is no punk.
Ralph: Christian has apparently heard some of the segments we’ve been doing since the release of that audiotape
CB: And I gotta tell ya, I have to tell ya, listen, it has been a miserable week for me
CB: and you guys”I was driving in the car”at least I think it was you guys I was listening to
CB: and you made me laugh in the midst of all this, uh, craziness
DJ: I find that hard to believe. Really?
CB: So, listen, I know I have a potty mouth; everybody knows that now
CB: but I understand this is live, so please, don’t worry, I will behave
DJs: Oh, ok. Well, we appreciate that
If you don’t, we are done professionally, Christian!
CB: Now listen, can you let me make a few comments?
We’d love to give you the opportunity “thank you for calling
CB: The thing that I really want to stress is I have no confusion whatsoever”I was out of order beyond belief. I was way out of order. I acted like a punk. I regret that and there is nobody that has heard that tape that is hit harder by it than me.
CB: I make no excuses for it. It is inexcusable and I hope that that is absolutely clear. You know, and uh, one thing that has really disturbed me throughout this, um, because I’m just, I’m not familiar, I’m not comfortable yet with this notion of being a movie star. I’ve always”I’m an actor, and I don’t quite know how to handle the movie star thing. And the thing that disturbs me so much is that I’ve heard a lot of people say that I seem to think I’m better than anybody else and nothing could be farther from the truth. I’m a lucky”I don’t want to swear ”I’m a lucky
DJ: Laughter SOB, right?
CB: lucky at what I do. I never forget that and that is why I put so much into what I do and why I care so much about it and why sometimes that enthusiasm just goes awry. You know, and please, if anybody ever sees that I really am thinking that I really am better than anybody else, stick a fork in my
CB: backside. Turn me over. I will be done. That is not me, you know?
Ralph: I gotta tell you, we were giving you points for, um, the length of the conversation, because I would have run out of energy in about thirty seconds
CB: Absolutely. Listen, and let me tell you how I had that much energy for that day
CB: Let me try to put this into a little bit of context, because there seem to be so many people who are giving opinions about this, but you know what? None of them were there.
CB: Now, so we’re making Terminator. I’m assuming you’re familiar with the mythology?
DJs: Of course
CB: You’ve seen T2?
CB: It is a great movie, and in it you will meet Sarah Connor
DJ: um hmm
CB: and she is in an insane asylum. Why is she there? Because she is crazy
CB: Now I play John Connor, her son, and on the day all of this happened, the scene that we were doing, I was trying to show a little of that in-the-blood craziness
DJ: um hmm
CB: and you know what? It went very wrong. And for reasons that myself and Shane, the DP and every crew member that was in that hangar at Kirtland Air Force Base that day, they know the reasons, I got annoyed and then what happened”I made it ugly, and that was awful of me. I took it out way too far. I completely mixed up fact and fiction. I’m half John Connor. I’m half Christian there, and”we’ve all heard
CB: exactly what
DJ: You know, Christian, the thing I felt bad about when I heard this, regardless of your personal behavior was that, I think that on a set or any sort of creative enterprise, there should be a certain amount of freedom to screw up and do what you do without having to face it being made public and then having to deal with it in the press. That must be awfully difficult.
CB: I hear you completely, but it’s no excuse, because you know what? That confidentiality, that trust, is really not there for covering up bad behavior.
CB: That is there”and it is essential”that is here though, so that creatively you can experiment and you can try things that maybe are abysmal”that maybe are embarrassing beyond belief, and you know and there’s a trust with the director and the producers that nobody will ever see that. It will be destroyed if it didn’t work. But you have to try those things.
DJ: How long ago did this actually happen? And how long
CB: This was back in July of last year
DJ: July of last year. And how long was it before”you’ve talked to the DP now? You’ve
CB: Oh listen, listen, I’ve not only talked with him, we have resolved this completely, that veryday.
DJ: Oh wow
CB: We kept working for a number of hours. Listen, when I’m saying I’m not coming back to that set if he’s still hired, you know what? It’s hot air
CB: I don’t believe that
CB: I have no intention of getting anybody fired. I absolutely believe in Shane’s capability. He’s done a wonderful job on that movie. We not only kept working that day, we worked together for at least a month after that”every single day. We saw each other two weeks back and we worked together then. Everything is resolved between us. There is no problem whatsoever.
DJ: Is it weird?
CB: and he’s done a great job on it. And I really want through this, in case anyone has considered he’s not doing a great job. I want everyone to know, I’ve seen a rough cut of the movie. It looks fantastic and he has done a wonderful, professional job. I don’t want anyone to have a misunderstanding about that.
Ralph: I am really looking forward to this movie. It does look fantastic.
CB: And I appreciate that because so many people, not just me, not just Shane, so many crew members have worked so hard on this movie. And, and a really important point that I want to make is that, hey, I know a number of people are going to be thinking that they don’t want to go see the movie because they think I’m some kind of prima donna or something
CB: It ain’t that, it’s just maybe sometimes I care too much about the movie. But you, you, it wasn’t just me, it was Shane, the DP, the director, the other actors, every single crew member”everybody”worked so hard on this movie, and please, I’m asking people, please do not allow my one-time lapse in judgment, my incredibly embarrassing meltdown to overshadow this movie and to have all of those peoples hard work go to waste. It’s just too great a mythology for that to happen.
CB: And one other thing is
DJ: Go ahead
CB: A lot of people have said I’m being a bully to this guy. It’s an insult to Shane.
CB: I couldn’t bully that guy if I tried. He is a big guy. He is much bigger than me. He’s an exfriggin-football player
CB: You know? I am”this is not Little Orphan Annie
CB: I was going off on, ok? And the other point is a lot of people have been talking nonsense about is that it almost came close to being physical. Well, it NEVER came close to being physical whatsoever. So, please, I just want to make completely clear I am embarrassed by it, and I regret it, and I ask everybody to sit down and ask themselves: have they ever had a bad day?
CB: And have they ever lost their temper and really regretted it immensely?
DJ: Yeah, we have a special appreciation for mistakes that we make and then they come back to haunt us on tape and get played over and over again, and that sucks. And we were saying at the time, I’m sure you heard me say this, Christian Bale, that, uh, it’s a good thing all of us don’t have our worst moments taped and, you know, put out there for everyone to hear. Because that would be embarrassing for us
Ralph: I yell at Kevin and Bean like you did every day
DJs: yep, Christian, that’s what it is
CB: Right, it’s just that nobody else hears it
CB: Ok, guys, listen, thank you so much for taking the time
CB: I also appreciate you making fun of it, you know, I had it coming. Feel free to make fun of me at my expense.
DJ: Well, you’ve kind of taken the fun out of it now! We kind of see where you’re coming from
CB: I, I, I, (trying to break in) I deserve it completely
Ralph: I was always telling Kevin and Bean it was a bad idea, that I really was against it, but they insisted
DJ: We told Ralph he shouldn’t have made fun of you
CB: Thanks very much for listening to me, and listen, one extra thing”nothing to do with the movie”but I was listening to the radio earlier on. Please, Michael Phelps, swim in the next Olympics
CB: This guy has a God-given talent
DJ: I think he will
CB: So he smoked a bit of weed. Plenty of our presidents have
Including the current one
CB: Everybody makes mistakes. Bounce back from it. You know, do not waste that godlike talent. Swim in the next Olympics, please.
DJs: I’m sure he will
Ralph: You’re a big man for owning up to your mistake and I hope that a lot of people listening will hear the perspective that you put it in and accept your apology and continue to support the great work that you do up there on the screen, Christian Bale. Thanks for calling in today.
We enjoyed talking to you.
CB: Thank you very much, man
Ralph: Thank you very much. See ya. Bye.
Child, B. (2009, February 9). Christian Bale apologises ‘unreservedly’ for Terminator set rant. The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/feb/09/christian-bale-apologises-for-onset-rant
Duke, A. (2009, February 6). Bale apologizes for ‘Terminator’ tantrum. CNN. Retrieved from: http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Movies/02/06/bale.apology/index.html
Johnson, N. (2011). Christian Bale’s account of a profane tirade: Salvation or Bale-out? Relevant Rhetoric, 2, 1-17.
Christian Bale rant: Full transcript (2009, February 4). The Telegraph (U.K.). Retrieved from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/4508022/Christian-Bale-rant-Full-transcript.html