Last night, 20th Century Fox unveiled about 30 minutes of footage from Ridley Scott’s Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings, in which Christian Bale plays Moses, who does that thing Moses does: get Pharaoh to let his people go. Scott was busily working to finish the film — which hits theaters on December 12 — so, instead, Bale himself fielded some questions about his part in Exodus.
And, you know, he’s funnier than you’d think he’d be.
This is “Straight up, Moses.”
“I’ve worked with a number of actors who have worked with Ridley and have said to me, ‘You guys would get on, you should work together,’” Bale recalled. “And so Ridley and I had met and talked a little bit. 'Let’s find something to do.’ Four or five years ago then he turned up and said, 'I’ve got something. It’s Moses.’ I’m like, 'Haha. You mean swords and sandals?’ And he said, 'Yeah, straight up Moses.’ “
"The biggest issue was about how much you could include because [the story] is so dense; you really could make an eight-hour film,” he said. “So you really had to make a choice about how far you went with the story. It’s called Exodus for a reason, it’s not called Moses.”
Monty Python Was Bale’s Burning Bush
"The very first film I rented immediately after meeting with Ridley and while I was still trying to get my head wrapped around it, thinking whether it was something that could be possible… I went and rented The Life of Brian,” admitted Bale. “It is a favorite film of mine, a beautifully made film. The point being that not only do I enjoy that film but anything where you are approaching it from a very earnest point of view, can have the potential to become The Life of Brian very quickly, so it was sort of the guiding light throughout and I must confess, 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ was kind of always humming through my head. And then after that I rented Mel Brooks’ History of the World: Part I. You have to have humor with something that is as earnest and as heavy as this.”
"You Can’t Out-Heston Charlton Heston”
“Yes I did re-watch The Ten Commandments, Bale admitted. “The main difference I looked at is, well you know, you can’t out-Heston Charlton Heston, but in my reading from looking at the [source materials] was that this was an incredible weight on his shoulders. This is a man straining. He fought against being the Chosen One, kept trying to get out of the gig when he was on the mountain and it was something you can imagine was not an easy job. I felt like our [version of the Exodus story] should be about the guy desperately trying to move forward because of the enormous pressure that is on him.”
How Fat Can Moses Be, Anyway?
“I was making American Hustle when Steve [Zailian] was sending me his scripts and I got back from Boston and when I went in to see Ridley my head was absolutely shaved down to the scalp and I still had all of the [Hustle] girth and he really tried to not show a look of absolute horror at who he had cast,” Bale recalled with a laugh. “The nicest thing he could say was, 'Your hair is pretty short.’ [Laughs].”
Self-Delusion is the Key to Surviving An Epic
Speaking to the scale of Scott’s production, which included 120 horses on set for several scenes, 400 frogs on another day, as well as hundreds of extras and countless others behind-the-scenes, Bale revealed that he never got used to the spectacle and hopes he never does.
"You just sort of go 'Wow, look at that set, it’s a kilometer long. That’s amazing, look at all the people, what are they waiting for? Oh no, me.’” he recalled. “'How am I ever going to get through this?’ And so you act it. You arrive, and you act as though you could handle this. You think to yourself, 'Ridley you should’ve picked someone else.’ But I think the day I look at something that size and think, 'Yeah, I should be in the middle of that,’ I’d probably just hate myself.”
Kara Warner is a writer/reporter living in Los Angeles. Likes: Men in kilts, ladies in power suits, the Denver Broncos. Dislikes: Plastic surgery frozen faces on Bravo, losing, zombies.