Filmmaker Werner Herzog recalls witnessing a 1950s incident involving Klaus Kinski in which the famously nutty German actor locked himself in a bathroom for 48 hours. The star embarked on a marathon screaming rant, and when he emerged days later, he had reduced all the porcelain fixtures to dust with his bare hands.
Had this event happened today, the recording would likely be available on YouTube.
Such is the scourge that has come to be known as the “celebrity rant.”
Whether it’s Alec Baldwin leaving a bitter message on his daughter’s answering machine or Britney Spears offering profanity-laced whining while mic’d up backstage at a concert, rants take on a life of their own thanks to modern technology.
The latest celebrity to showcase his ranting skills is Christian Bale, the acclaimed British actor and current Batman. In July, Bale was filming a scene on the New Mexico set of “Terminator: Salvation.” Shane Hurlbut, the director of photography, apparently stepped onto the set during shooting of a particularly emotional moment. This prompts Bale to launch into an obscene tirade at his co-worker.
The relentless berating is both funny and, quite frankly, a little scary. Bale is, after all, known for playing the lead in “American Psycho.” The buff actor chides, he threatens, he gets personal.
“Do you want me to go and trash your lights? ... Then why are you trashing my scene?” he fumes.
Bale finally says he’ll drop out of the project if Hurlbut walks through the set again without being fired.
Others present, including one-named director McG, can be heard trying to calm down the actor, although everyone else’s voice is only picked up through Bale’s microphone. It’s hard to discern if Hurlbut (a journeyman DP on films such as “Semi-Pro” and “We Are Marshall”) attempts to apologize or is simply stunned into silence.
Two observations emerge after listening to the rant: First, it’s amusing how the actor’s U.K. accent reveals itself. Keep in mind he is playing an American in the film, but the louder he bellows, the more English he sounds. Second, Bale mentions several times that he thinks Hurlbut is a nice guy. Imagine how his rage would have manifested itself if he already considered Hurlbut a jerk?
The tape reportedly surfaced because the audio was shipped by Warner Bros. Pictures to the insurer of the film after Bale threatened to quit. Obviously, the recording proved too hilarious to be kept in professional circles.
Already, the Internet is full of take-offs on this audio. One features a Christian Bale soundboard. This site posts audio links from the incident that can be clicked in any order, thereby creating your own ranting mix tape. Example: “I wanna (expletive) kick you.”
More spins on Bale have turned up on YouTube. Some transform the rant into a music video by positioning it over hipster instrumental grooves. Others, take it in an entirely different direction, such as pretending Bale is shouting at underperforming animals on the set of “Dr. Doolitle.” This is accomplished by the insertion of chickens clucking and horses neighing.
If the “Terminator” sequel doesn’t work out, perhaps this infamous rant will prompt someone to resurrect the “American Psycho” franchise.