The nice thing about writing an intro to an interview with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale is I donít have to explain who they are. I really donít think there is a person on this planet that couldnít identify at least one of them.
So rather than give their background, how about what ď3:10 To YumaĒ is about.
The film stars Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol and Ben Foster, in a modern take on the classic Western short story by Elmore Leonard. The film was directed by James Mangold (WALK THE LINE) and produced by Cathy Konrad, from a screenplay by Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt & Derek Haas.
In Arizona in the late 1800's, infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Crowe) and his vicious gang of thieves and murderers have plagued the Southern Railroad. When Wade is captured, Civil War veteran Dan Evans (Bale), struggling to survive on his drought-plagued ranch, volunteers to deliver him alive to the "3:10 to Yuma", a train that will take the killer to trial. On the trail, Evans and Wade, each from very different worlds, begin to earn each otherís respect. But with Wadeís outfit on their trail Ė and dangers at every turn Ė the mission soon becomes a violent, impossible journey toward each man's destiny.
A little while ago I posted a number of movie clips, so in case you missed them you can click here.
During the short press conference, the two of them talked about the challenges of filming in freezing conditions, location filming, and the special relationship between a man and his horseÖ.
As always, you can either read the transcript below or download the audio as an MP3 here. And since I wonít be transcribing the other interviews I was able to participate in for the movie, hereís the links to the audio for Peter Fonda and Ben Foster, writers Michael Brandt/Derek Haas and director James Mangold and producer Cathy Konrad.
ď3:10 to YumaĒ opens everywhere this Friday.
BALE: Morning all, I recognize a number of faces here (to Crowe) Iíve had to do Rescue Dawn just recently.
BALE: Iím like a regular right now.
Q: Youíve played American roles before, but were you surprised to be asked to be in a western?
BALE: Not for a second, no.
CROWE: No, it didnít surprise me. Iíd spent quite a bit of time with Jim Mangold about six years ago. I didnít realize that he was spending time with me Ė I was recording an album in the studio at the time, and he was spending time with me because he was prepping Walk the Line. I didnít realize that at the time, but we became conversational friends. So when he sent me the script I read it and I enjoyed the dynamics between the two characters, so thatís basically decision made, you know.
Q: Russell youíre known as an actor who does a lot of research and preparation for period roles, whatís the real story of the level of work you put into things like this?
CROWE: Well, I think we should decide not to talk about preparation just this once, because then it just all becomes about the preparation and not about the movie. The thing is, I was working on another movie right up Ďtil this, and then promoting another film in Europe, so I didnít really do that much preparation, but as you may know I have a working farm, so thereís a lot of things on this movie thatís just part of my day to day.
Q: Would it be okay to ask if there was anything from the other western you did, The Quick and the Dead, that also applied here?
CROWE: I had the good fortune of working with a guy called Thell Reed who was an armorer on Quick and the Dead in a period in my life where Iíd never actually touched a handgun, so he utilized that, put a lot of information in my head because he didnít have to get past things that my dad had taught me incorrectly, or my uncles had taught me badly, as he finds with a lot of American actors when he works with period guns. So it was just a matter of taking that same information and refreshing it in my mind and then changing the style of how this particular guy killed people.
Q: Can you guys talk about being in New Mexico and filming on location and also working together?
CROWE: Youíve been silent for awhile Batman - Iím going to do that all day you know.
BALE: I was kind of guessing that. New Mexico, I donít really Ė now that I think about it I have no recollections of Santa Fe particularly, but the canyons, being out in the high desert, that was nice; being out, riding your horse, shooting your guns, thatís a lot of fun.
CROWE: It was really cold.
BALE: It got to be bloody freezing, especially some of the night shoots; it got cold.
CROWE: Terrifyingly cold
BALE: We had the worst winter storm in recorded history came in.
CROWE: And we were surrounded by four and a half feet of snow doing scenes that talk about the drought. It was one of those sort of movie experiences.
BALE: And he (meaning Crowe) was just a real bastard to work with.
CROWE: And Peter Fonda started something that I think SAG should pick up on. One day he actually said that he couldnít act in period costume, on location, below 13 degrees.
BALE: Which is superb, Iím having that put in my contracts.
CROWE: I reckon SAG should work on it, because I reckon thereís - like you shouldnít do Shakespeare in a draughty hall in tights below, say, eight degrees, there should be a whole scale.
Q: Christian, you had just come from a very uncomfortable location for this when you were shooting Rescue Dawn, was that more uncomfortable than this one or was this one a little more challenging for you?
BALE: I kind of like movies where I just get to just be dirty and crawling in the mud, Rescue Dawn it was all very primordial stuff, and with this one it was all about wearing the same clothes day after day and getting sweaty and dirty and sun exposure, and itís meant to be like that; westerns are meant to be dirty, they shouldnít be all nice and clean. And I like getting my hand dirty.
Q: Russell did you like the fact that the bad boy had a conscience?
CROWE: I didnít really read it that way. Heís just very efficient at surviving whatever situation that heís in. The end result is an example of that. Obviously that group of men that heís gathered together, theyíre probably a little dangerous now, so letís just move on and clean the slate.
Q: Iím from Equestrian News so I have to ask a horse question
(both actors nay and Crowe hits the desk with his hand like a horse would count with his hoof)
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Q: How would you explain that special relationship between man and horses?
CROWE: Well Iím an absolute horse lover. Itís a very complex and long answer in its full sense, but Iíve always found that even from the time youíre a little kid theyíre just like people, there are some horses that you have a deeper connection with immediately, and you can work on that over time. I found over the years the antithesis of some other peopleís thought processes, the gentler that you are, and the most constant you are with the horse, the deeper that connection gets. And itís funny doing these sort of movies, and Iíve done a few with animals, because you get really actually close, because the working relationship is quite intense, 10, 12 hours a day for a number of months, so itís hard to say goodbye.
Q: He was using the whistle, do you have something in your personal life that you use?
CROWE: Yeah, yeah. It would depend on what the situation was, mainly just a series of mouth clicks actually.
Q: What makes your character the way he is, suddenly killing his friends?
CROWE: As I was saying, he just responds in the situation to whatís around him in order to survive. So heís just that kind of animal himself.
Q: What makes him like that?
CROWE: Well, thereís a history thatís talked about in the film, whether or not thatís the complete version of his life story, thatís a different thing. You can throw out a lot of assumed experiences that an abandoned child might have in the old west, and all of those things will add up to where he is. I think one of the important things Ė because weíve had no history of Wade being Ė we donít know his future, we donít know if he gets captured and all that sort of stuff, so I was always taking the attitude that he was actually very successful at what he did, and this is probably the fourth or fifth version of his Ďgang.í And when they become too proficient, the gang members around him and the things that he taught them, thatís probably the time to clean the slate and move on and go and get himself another gang. Thereís a story in The Princess Bride when theyíre talking about the dread pirate robbers changing hands and that would go through my mind in terms of how to explain him.
Q: Can you talk a little more about each other, had you met before and if not, what surprised you about each other?
BALE: No, weíd never met before at all. Whenever people asked me what I was doing next, and I said I was going to be working with Russell, they kind of looked like (oh no), ĎYouíre going to be in for a tough ride with him.í And itís absolutely true. (Russell laughs) No, Russell was Ė I donít mean to talk out of school, but a lot of actors, they sort of complain and winge and do everything to avoid actually getting on with the work, you know, so itís nice when youíre working with somebody like Russell where you can just get to the point and you can have blunt conversations about the scenes, and it just makes it easy. Heís obviously, you donít have to be told, heís a bloody good actor and itís a pleasure to work with somebody as good as that.
CROWE: Right from the first time we did a reading I could see that he had a sense of humor and was very balanced about what the job is, and all that sort of stuff. Once youíve worn the cape, it must be hard to keep your feet on the ground.
BALE: This ainít going to go away all bloody day!
CROWE: And you can tell thereís a lot of base jealousy coming from me about the fact that he gets to wear the cape.
BALE: I bought him his own special rubber outfit.
CROWE: Which I appreciate. I appreciate it greatly.
BALE: Youíll be seeing him in the meat district in Manhattan.
CROWE: We found it really easy to get on and when youíre dealing with Ė I mean, some of the days, we talked about Peter pulling out (off?) at 13 degrees, but actually some of the days were -15 and stuff like that, so itís really nice to have an easy rapport when youíre trying to do complicated things in rough conditions.
BALE: Even though your jaw canít move because itís too cold to talk.
CROWE: The thing is it was easy, and the thing I think I said to him on the last night when we were finishing up, I just said to him that heís all class, on a daily basis, always ready, got great questions, his choices with his weapons, the way he approached the horse riding, itís all good. From my perspective, to know that the guy that youíre working with has put the effort in, is switched on, is ready to go regardless of the conditions and the hours and all that sort of stuff, just makes you feel like youíre in the right place.
BALE: We were both a number of drinks down the line by that time of course.
CROWE: Which is also a good thing; being able to simply finish a dayís work and have a regular conversation with a bloke over a beer without it being some big to do, breaking some sort of contemporary taboo or something, we donít do that in Los Angeles.
Q: Can you talk about working on Batman right now?
BALE: Russellís going to be actually in the new Batman movie, which is a big surprise and I want to reveal it to everybody right now!
Q: Are you going to do Justice League after
CROWE: What about the Green Lantern?