After “Batman Begins” and its upcoming sequel “The Dark Knight,” Christian Bale is no stranger to the crime fighting role. Next summer our knight in not-so-shining armor will be seeking justice again, but in a different outfit.
“I’ve been doing a movie [called] ’Public Enemies,'” he said recently about the flick he just wrapped opposite Johnny Depp, Channing Tatum and Marion Cotillard in her first post-Oscar role. The fact-based film tells the story of notorious American gangsters John Dillinger (Depp), Pretty Boy Floyd (Tatum), and Baby Face Nelson (English actor Stephen Graham) during a crime wave in the 1930s. Bale has been cast as FBI chief Melvin Purvis, the man who brings down the three outlaws.
“I wasn’t aware of Melvin Purvis beforehand. I was aware of Dillinger,” the 34-year-old star explained of the significance behind his character. “I knew the circumstances around the era: The Dust Bowl, the crime syndicates.”
When he met with the legendary director of such films as “Heat” and “Ali,” however, Bale got a crash course. “Michael Mann is one of the most thorough researchers that I’ve ever come across,” he marveled. “So I had more than an abundance of information about it. I also travelled to the FBI headquarters and met with the family of the character I was playing.”
To further the authenticity, Mann insisted that they film on the exact sites where the real action happened whenever possible. “We shot at the actual locations where the events took place,” Bale explained. “It was uncanny on a number of occasions; we were filming on the actual dates where the gunfights happened, in the same place, at the same time!”
So when you see the film in July of 2009, you can expect a living, breathing document that could even go beyond Bryan Burrough’s book of the same name, which serves as the film’s source material. “Michael is like an incredible private investigator in the way that he approaches his moviemaking,” explained Bale. “[I’m amazed by] the nuances and the details that he’s interested in and does so well.”
“There’s some license taken,” Bale allowed. “It stays true to the events, but as with many movies, [some things are changed] in trying to condense an entire story into two hours.”
Do you think Christian Bale will cut it as a gangster hunting FBI chief, or do you prefer him fighting crime with Batman’s high-tech utility belt?