Saying there was a great interview on Charlie Rose last night is kind of like saying damn, Marion Cotillard looked beautiful last night . No shit, isn't that always the case? The guy keeps knocking 'em out that you almost take for granted how across the board excellent his interviews are. So to that end, the principals of the terrific boxing drama, "The Fighter" -- Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, and director David O. Russell -- were on the Charlie Rose show.
Again, all of his interviews are great, but this candid, lively discussion was super engaging and really entertaining.
There's lots of interesting tidbits on how the film was made and how and why it ended up the way it did. For example, past versions of the film were dark and somber (we can contest to this, we read old versions of the script when Darren Aronofsky was involved; Brad Pitt and Matt Damon were once attached in Christian Bale's role too), but Bale says in this interview the majority of the tonal shift -- the light-on-its-feet-touch and humor -- comes from Russell directly who is evidently a passionate, but "silly" guy. While the film was scripted, the always open-for-moments director also often went off book. Known for fast and loose, spontaneity -- that sometimes didn't go well with actors like Lily Tomlin that needed more clear direction -- Russell decided to use extra downtime to shoot sit-down interviews with all the cast in character. Those interview scenes with Wahlberg and Bale -- not in the script and totally improvised in the moment -- now bookend the movie and you know that final sequence in the film is just a gold mine of emotion and such a perfect way to conclude the film.
Another awesome revelation of improv is provided by this week's print issue of EW. Russell talks about the scene in the film where Bale sings the Bee Gees' "I Started A Joke" to his mother (played by Melissa Leo). "I wanted to get, in one moment, the tenderness and the strange dynamic of those two and how he can melt her even when she's mad at him," the filmmaker told Entertainment Weekly. "I'd asked him to learn [the song], but had never heard him sing it. We had 20 minutes of light, and I said, 'Get in the car.' And that was it. That was one take. That was a gift and that all came from the crucible of Christian's Amazing performance that was ready; any time, to be picked up and fired."
Another interesting tidbit. Bale says he auditioned for Russell's 1999 Iraq war film, "Three Kings," but the audition went far from well and Spike Jonze, a friend of Russell's, eventually landed the part. "Uhhhhh, It was nothing like the first meeting that David and I ever had," Bale said with a knowing laugh that provoked laughter from Russell as well. "Well, I won't go into it, but I auditioned for 'Three Kings' and it didn't go very well for me."
Also interesting to learn is that Wahlberg said that after Aronofsky bailed on the project they were very far down the road with two directors as their choices. It sounds like they were about to pick either one when Russell entered the mix and won the gig. Wahlberg took the director to meet Bale and get his blessing and after one meeting, they had found their man. The two director's names aren't mentioned, but it's still interesting to hear. "The Fighter" goes into wide release this weekend. You can read our review here and most of us here at the Playlist, including the author of the review, loved the film. Set some time aside to watch the full interview on Charlie Rose. It's completely worth it.