Christian Bale's Acting Process Doesn't Put Much Stock In Scripts

If you watched Christian Bale and company in "Thor: Love and Thunder" and thought, "Are they just making this up as they go along?" it turns out, that may not be so far from the truth. We heard previously from Bale's costar Natalie Portman that director (and info-dump narrator, as Korg) Taika Waititi gave the actors latitude to improvise major plot points on the set of the latest Marvel Studios film. It turns out such spontaneity — the freedom to improvise, live in the moment as his character, and deviate from the script — may be a key part of Bale's acting process in general.

Bale is a four-time Academy Award nominee who won Best Supporting Actor for his role in "The Fighter," pictured above. He's dabbled in superhero movies before in *checks notes* "The Dark Knight" trilogy, but "Love and Thunder" sees him taking on the guise of a black-mouthed, deicidal supervillain for a change. While promoting the movie in an interview with Collider, Bale was asked about how he prepares for his scenes. He said:

"I do the whole character for bloody weeks and I'm boring as hell with that. I don't even actually necessarily read the script itself that much. I'll go through it a few times, but then I'll basically go off, and what I want to be prepared for is that I want to be able to turn up on the day and the director says, 'You know what, forget everything. Let's just make it up,' and I'm good and I can just go with it. You know? And so that's what I focus on. I don't focus on, 'I've got to learn my lines. I've got to do that.' I never focus on that at all. That sort of just comes somehow."

'Just let it surprise you'

On the surface, it may be fairly alarming to hear an actor say they don't focus on learning their lines, as if they were bringing a major blunder instead of the thunder to the table. However, Christian Bale is a seasoned pro, and what he seems to be talking about is having that part of the job so down it comes as second nature.

"Love and Thunder" is — subjectively speaking, of course — a rather "meh" entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Bale's character, Gorr the God Butcher, is subject to the same tonal swings as the rest of the movie: After the straight drama of the opening scene, it feels like Gorr goes from zero to 60 and becomes a campy terror to space children. However, his character arc starts and ends in an emotional place, and as a freelance writer, I could relate to a villain like him on the level of unanswered prayers pitches.

As humans and god butchers, it turns out we all just want to be loved — and surprised. This extends to actors like Bale who are playing humans (or whatever species of humanoid alien Gorr is). Bale doesn't like to overprepare for scenes and would rather let the thrill of discovery guide emotional moments. He concluded:

"In terms of emotional stuff, I find it the worst thing in the world to prep for that because you don't in life. The emotions surprise you, right? You never plan on them, otherwise they're fake. So just let it surprise you, let it happen as it happens if it happens. And if it doesn't, it doesn't happen."

Bale's next project is "Amsterdam," which reunites him with "The Fighter" and "American Hustle" director David O. Russell. "Thor: Love and Thunder" is in theaters now.