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."
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When Anne Hathaway signed on to play Catwoman for Christopher Nolan, she quickly found out that the bar for physical preparation had already been set pretty high by her new co-star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. "When I got the part, Chris had called me into his office and said, 'OK, so, there's going to be a lot of fighting, and when we did 'Inception,' Joe got in really good shape. Joe went to the gym for months so when he did his fight sequence he did all of his own fighting. I really liked that," Hathaway remembers. "And I went, 'Gotcha, I'm reading between the lines here.' And I just went to the gym and came out when we wrapped."