Christian Bale's Blowup Proves Actor's Anger Problem

Actor's expletive-laced rant goes viral on Web, signals major issues, some say.

February 3, 2009, 5:56 PM

Feb. 4, 2009 — -- It's no act: Christian Bale is one angry man.

A recording of the "Dark Knight" star's four-minute F-word-laced tirade on the set of his upcoming film "Terminator Salvation" surfaced on the Internet Tuesday.

For many the tape was proof that the oft-described intense actor, who was arrested in July for allegedly assaulting his mother and sister, has an anger problem.

"There was a lot of mystery around that moment," US Weekly senior editor Bradley Jacobs said about the arrest. "Now we have a little more of a window of understanding into Christian Bale."

Bale's rant took place a few days after his arrest in London, where he was questioned and released by police after his mother, Jenny, and sister, Sharon, lodged a complaint against him. No charges were filed and it's unclear what actually happened, though there were reports of a heated argument that may have ended with Bale shoving one of the women.

"This is the second incident within a year in which he's blowing up at people," Jacobs told "The difference this time was we actually got to hear it ourselves. It went on and on and on. This was not just a moment of raising your voice. This was a four-minute tirade. He was scary and intimidating."

Bale's rep did not respond to questions from about the incident.

The actor was shooting a scene with actress Bryce Dallas Howard when Shane Hurlbut, the film's director of photography, accidentally walked on set, touching off the maelstrom.

Bale went ballistic, threatening to kick Hurlbut's "a--" and even get him fired. "I want you off the f---ing set, you p----," he shouted at Hurlbut.

When Hurlbut apologized, Bale brushed it off with, "No don't just be sorry. Think for one f---ing second. …Am I going to walk around and rip your f---ing lights down in the middle of the scene? ...Do you have any f---ing idea about it's f---ing distracting? Give me a f---ing answer."

When Hurlbut did try to answer him, it only enraged Bale more.

Christian Bale's Heated Argument

"Why are you trashing my scene?" Bale screamed at him.

"I'm not trashing your scene," Hurlbut responded.

"You are trashing my scene. You do it one more f---ing time and I ain't walking on this set if you're still hired. You're a nice guy. But that don't f---ing cut it."

The director, who goes by McG, was on the set during the rant, though it's not clear if he saw what precipitated it. He did, however, come to Bale's defense after his arrest in July.

Singing the actor's praises for his on-set behavior to US Weekly, McG said: "Christian sets an excellent example in that way. Just for the record, he is a big-hearted, good guy. I've worked with a lot of people, and that's just simply who he is. He loves his wife. He loves his child."

Reps for McG and Hurlbut did not respond to requests for comment from

On Monday, the "Terminator's" assistant director Bruce Franklin defended Bale in an interview with E!. He called the actor a "consummate professional" and chalked up the latest outburst to being interrupted in the middle of an emotional scene.

"He didn't walk around like that all day long. It was just a moment and it passed," Franklin told E!. "I think someone is begging to make some noise about this, but I don't think it's fair. The art of acting is not paint by numbers, it's an art form."

Therapist and anger expert Richard Driscoll believes Bale's commitment to artistry accounts for the extremeness of his outburst.

"Once he started he could very well have gotten into the artistry and the craft of what he was doing," Driscoll told "He's not doing a wussy complaint. He's doing a full-fledged exemplary headline-news tantrum. He's reaming this fella out at great length and with extreme passion."

Harrison Cheung, who worked for Bale for many years as an assistant, told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper that the actor had a hair-trigger temper for as long as he knew him and that his family catered to him.

"Everything was about keeping Christian happy because he was the meal ticket," Cheung said. "If something wasn't just so, Christian would just erupt. He would yell until he was red in the face. It was very intimidating."

Lead Actor's Antics

Driscoll, the co-author of the book "You Still Don't Understand," points out that most people would have been fired and escorted out by law enforcement after a rant like that, but not Bale, a leading man who commands multimillion-dollar paychecks.

He also believes that there will be little consequence for the actor and that this controversy will blow over soon.

"America like its stars a little edgy," Driscoll said. "If he were running for Boy Scout president that would count against him. But to be a movie star is to have raging raw passions inside of him. He's got a tragic flaw to struggle with. It makes him more real."

Bale's bad side also came out in an interview for ABC News' "Popcorn with Peter Travers." When Travers asked how Bale felt about being the first non-American actor to play Batman, Bale snapped that he "lived in America now longer than I've lived in England -- give me a break."

Jacobs believes Bale's temper, especially his latest rant, may burnish his reputation as a tough guy actor. It could cost him as well.

"I think it's pretty damaging," he said. "I don't think this is the sort of thing that blows over, because it lives on the Internet."

"He has to do some sort of damage control, issue a very contrite apology, go on the talk shows, maybe take an anger management classes," Jacobs added. "He has some explaining to do."

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