WESTWOOD, California — Both began their careers in the mid-'80s with instant classics ("Empire of the Sun," "A Nightmare on Elm Street"), matured as actors with critically acclaimed roles in the '90s ("Ed Wood," "American Psycho") and broke through with iconic characters in recent years (the "Pirates" and "Batman" films). Both possess the rare quality of making women want them and men want to be like them — and the even rarer skill of being indie-minded actors who lose no credibility when they delve into blockbuster territory.
And on Tuesday evening, the remarkably similar career trajectories of [movieperson id="16504"]Johnny Depp[/movieperson] and [movieperson id="3146"]Christian Bale[/movieperson] converged on a red carpet full of gals, guns and gangsters at the premiere of [movie id="375622"]"Public Enemies."[/movie]
"We are both fellas, and both dads, and both in the same profession," Depp, who plays notorious outlaw John Dillinger in the flick, explained of his similarities to Bale. "He's very good, and tremendously talented."
"He's a very unique actor," returned Bale, who spends "Enemies" in hot pursuit of Depp's Dillinger as FBI agent Melvin Purvis. "And I admire his work."
"Both are so intense and so committed and generous," marveled Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, who plays Depp's love interest in the Michael Mann flick. "It's a really hard question: How do you compare something unique to something unique?"
Another unique pop-culture phenomenon is our continuing fascination with the American gangster. Although Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, Frank Nitti, Baby Face Nelson and other "Enemies" characters saw their real-life glory days some 70 years ago, we're still enamored with them. So, what is it that makes gangsters so timeless?
"Dillinger, you see, he was a bit more of an outlaw," Depp explained. "The best thing about being an outlaw was the machine gun — and unlimited ammunition."
"The finest cars," Bale said of the gangster life. "[Their] cars have this artistry, and they have a sense of the character."
"You can make your own rules, and bend the rules," reasoned Leelee Sobieski, who plays another Dillinger flame in the film. "[When you're a gangster], crazy things will happen."
"Just saying the name 'gangster' — the hats, women and cars," agreed Jason Clarke, who works alongside Depp in the film as fellow outlaw "Red" Hamilton. "They were guys that did what they wanted."
And speaking of people who can do whatever they want, it was hard to not notice the gangster-like power wielded by Depp and Bale as they walked the red carpet, greeted by shrieks of adoring fans. "I had a crush on Johnny when I was 6 years old," Sobieski gushed. "I loved him in 'Cry-Baby'!"
Check out everything we've got on "Public Enemies."
For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.