Christian Bale has played Batman three times now for Christopher Nolan, creating a role that redefined both the legendary character and the British actor. The last time he put on the bat-suit was a lot like the first time -- and in each instance he needed a bit of alone time. "The first time I ever put on the actual one myself I thought, 'Oh, Chris has to [re-do] the cast.' Because the claustrophobia was just unbelievable," Bale remembers. "I stood there and I thought, 'I can't breathe, I can't think, this is too tight, this is squeezing my head, I'm gonna panic, I'm about to have a nervous breakdown, a panic attack right this second.' So I said, 'Can everyone just leave me alone for 20 minutes?'"
The break did the trick, as Bale estimates he's spent 21 months of his life under Batman's cowl -- with improvements over the years, like giving Bale the ability to take it off whenever he needed. When the final day of shooting in the suit arrived -- a scene that paired Bale with Anne Hathaway's Catwoman on a New York City rooftop -- Bale found himself feeling a need for privacy, though for a new reason.
"I was wrapped, and I just went down and sat in a room and I realized, 'This is it. I'm not gonna be taking this cowl off again,'" Bale says. "So again, I said, 'Can you please leave me alone for 20 minutes?' and sat with that moment. It was a very important moment for me. It's been a very important character, and the movies themselves have changed my life and changed my career. I wanted to just appreciate that."
Speaking of time, Bale couldn't really tell you how long anything took to film in the massive superhero flick because he intentionally wasn't paying attention -- in order to save his sanity. "You know, there's such long schedules on these movies. I don't like to think about time, otherwise I get depressed," he says. "So I just sort of do it as though it's like one day at a time for me. Because if you go, 'Oh, only 124 days left,' it gets tricky to get up at four in the morning."