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Watch: Christian Bale Explains The Motivation Behind His Trademark Batman Voice For 'The Dark Knight' Trilogy

by Charlie Schmidlin
November 19, 2013 9:38 AM
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The Dark Knight, Christian Bale

Aside from its blistering visual sense now expected from “Inception” director Christopher Nolan, “The Dark Knight” trilogy of films featured an entire spectrum of interesting aural performance choices, from Heath Ledger's drawly turn as the Joker to the terrifying incoherence of Bane as interpreted by Tom Hardy. However, the original—and the one consistent through all three films—is of course Christian Bale's gravelly-voiced Batman. Thanks to a look at the actor's audition tape in the recent box set for the trilogy, the voice has confirmed itself as always tied to the character and the role, but recently Bale spoke about his major choice and its reasoning.

Speaking to MTV News while doing the rounds for the upcoming Scott Cooper flick “Out of the Furnace," Bale inevitably fielded questions about his time on Nolan's films, and remembered the audition for the part of Batman with a wry reflection. "I got there. They put me in Val Kilmer's suit. It didn't even fit properly, and I stood in it and I went 'I feel like an idiot,' ” Bale said. “What kind of guy walks around, dressed like a bat? And is then going to go 'Hello, how are you? Just ignore that I'm dressed as a bat.' Of course, he's meant to be doing this. If you look at the history of the guy and the pain that he went through. I went 'I can't do this in a normal voice. I have to become a beast in order to sell this to myself.' "

Bale recalls his wife responding rather unfavorably to the end result ('Oh, you f---ed that one up, didn't you?'), but while he says that the voice “isn't for everyone” and that Ben Affleck is “obviously going to have to do his own thing” for Zack Snyder's “Batman vs. Superman”, it was the only rational decision for stepping into the suit. “Otherwise,” he said, “he's just loopy beyond belief. He's loopy, but he's loopy with a method to his madness."

He added about the future of the character, "I wish [Affleck] the best. You look at this kid, Batkid... That gives the whole point. It doesn't matter which actor is playing him. He's a symbol. He's so much bigger than any actor. That's all. This little kid, he doesn't really care which actor's playing him. It's the symbol of the whole thing, and that's what makes the character so fantastic. I look forward to seeing what Ben will do with it."

He isn't alone; catch the entire exchange below, and you can see what Affleck wrangles from the role when “Batman vs. Superman” arrives on July 17, 2015.

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  • Christian | November 19, 2013 12:55 PMReply

    Christian Bale - the best, most human Batman ever. Michael Keaton is only praised by nostalgic nerds and because he received a ridiculous amount of hate-hype prior to the film and turned out okay. Not unlike Ben Affleck, maybe? For fück's sake, Bale's an Academy Award-winning, cutting-edge method acting future legend of cinema. Go figure.

  • JZ | November 19, 2013 3:54 PM

    Here's an opinion for you: Adam West was the only REAL Batman and every attempt at turning it into some dark modern metaphorical exploration has been just silly. In 20 years, the Nolan films will seem just as dated as Burton's.

  • Christian | November 19, 2013 2:58 PM

    I'm definitely no fanboy. Just a big admirer of great artists. But I guess you're one of those people who can't handle different opinions than your own..

  • JZ | November 19, 2013 1:24 PM

    You seem to be quite a nerd yourself, "christian". Love those Nolan films, do you?

  • Quinn | November 19, 2013 10:30 AMReply

    The voice is great! It's no wonder Bale got the role. He certainly gave the best audition of the actors we saw on the TDK Trilogy: Ultimate Collector's Edition extras.

  • Monica | November 19, 2013 10:17 AMReply

    Sorry, I meant "is believed to be the Batman" no best batman

  • Monica | November 19, 2013 10:12 AMReply

    I don't know why people complain about his voice, in one of the Batman comics, there is a description of how the voice of Batman sounds, and is equal to what Bale did in the movie.
    And also don't know how these people don't complain about a little guy, without physical and almost balding is considered the best Batman.

  • Rodrigo | November 19, 2013 10:11 AMReply

    I never understood why people thought the voice was weird. The comics clearly implicitly state with their creative fonts over the years that he voice was affected, dark and different. Psychologically, it completely works for a character meant to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies. What you'd rather him just be shooting the shit like Clooney did? Dummies.

  • rodie | November 19, 2013 9:57 AMReply

    It's so strange that people would complain about Bale's "ridiculous" gruff voice for Batman when the whole IDEA of a guy running around in a Bat costume fighting crime is ridiculous.

  • Jason | May 8, 2014 1:47 PM

    It came across as a guy "doing a voice" much if the time, which I've come to charitably interpret as an attempt to disguise his identity. Batman is an extremely competent character, so it felt weird to hear him to mess that up. The sound engineers probably could have done more to make it sound real.

  • Zack | November 19, 2013 9:50 AMReply

    Yeah, knowing WHY he did something ridiculous doesn't make it not-ridiculous.

  • 005 | November 19, 2013 10:17 AM

    But he didn't do something ridiculous, did he? Only idiots would say that the voice thing was more ridiculous than a bat costume.

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