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BEVERLY HILLS, California — It was the furious tirade that launched a thousand YouTube videos. And now, with
"Effectively, we were making a war movie," the filmmaker remembered of the tense day of shooting that caused his lead actor to erupt when director of photography Shane Hurlbut walked into his line of sight during a scene. "So if I have a scene where I'm trying to ramp my actor up to be credible while in a foxhole, fighting for his life, I want everybody's blood to be up."
The "Dark Knight" actor's tirade was caught on tape in July, while Bale was filming a scene as "Terminator" series star John Connor. Telling a tale of the post-Judgment Day savior taking on a new wave of unstoppable killing machines, Bale had been scheduled to spend the day battling a T-600 robot. When Hurlbut disrupted his concentration, reportedly for the second time, Bale called him an "amateur" and offered plenty of other choice nuggets that were leaked to the public and then spoofed on everything from "The Family Guy" to "Late Night With Conan O'Brien."
"Christian is a really fair human being, [but] he is an intense human being," McG explained of the audio, which erupted on the Internet in February. "I take responsibility for that leak, because it happened on my watch.
"I lead the way by having a big personality, having a strong opinion and being very vocal on the set," McG continued. "I'm trying to wind everybody up to a level of adrenaline that would correspond to a war situation — and if you take an element that's out of context from that moment and share it in the world, it's indeed misinterpreted. And that's simply all that was."
According to the director, Bale's rant was a behind-the-scenes peek at the intense state he puts himself into during such a scene and was a necessity for his "Terminator" performance. "It's my responsibility to always protect the actor to express himself in any way he sees fit in the spirit of the best performance possible," McG said. "So that's really my shortcoming."
McG also expressed concern that actors might now be inclined to hold back on movie sets, for fear that their own exposed intensity could similarly harm them. "That leak is indeed a black eye in the face of Hollywood," he said. "Because you don't want actors — or artists of any kind — thinking twice about the manner in which they choose to express themselves. You want them to feel free to go for it and succeed wildly or fail spectacularly and never have to worry about 'If I do this nude scene, is there going to be an uncharitable picture of me online?' "
As McG, Bale and others discuss more "Terminator" sequels, the director promises that his future sets will be more secure.
"You've gotta believe [a film crew] is a family. This is safe, and what I choose to do and expose myself physically, emotionally ... is indeed safe due to the sanctity of the film family," he said. "When that's violated, everybody loses. And it's a real bummer."
Will the vampires grab more trophies than the slumdog? What was the year's ultimate onscreen WTF moment? It's up to you to decide the winners of the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. Vote now, and tune in on May 31 at 9 p.m. ET, when the big show airs live from the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California.
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