By now much ado has been made about Christian Bale's explosion/meltdown on the set of the new Terminator movie. A lot of people are talking about it as though it's evidence that the guy is actually a bit of a jerk. After all, he's yelling at a guy and tossing out a lot of F-bombs. He even goes so far as to say that he's going to kick the guy's ass.
Personally, I don't care if Christian Bale is a jerk or not. I'm a fan, but I'm a fan of his movies and the roles that he chooses to take. Pretty much everything he does is at least interesting, and of course, he gets a lot of respect from me for revitalizing Batman (setting aside how he kinda oversells the voice a little in parts). I saw him once in person at WonderCon when he talked about the then-upcoming Batman Begins. He was gracious enough to answer questions from fans, and he showed genuine respect for them and the original source material. Even with all that though, I couldn't care less if he's a jerk on a personal level.
However, if he is a jerk, then this audio of him having a meltdown is not sufficient evidence that he is one. Apparently, he's flying off the handle because some guy is walking on to the set in order to tinker with the lights while Bale was doing a scene. Also, from what I gather from the audio, the guy had been asked repeatedly not to do that already.
Now, I'm not an actor, and I don't have any kind of inside knowledge on how movies are filmed. However, I do have some sense and some empathy. Actors try to create a convincing world - at least, any actor who cares about what he's doing does that. In order to do that, they need to be in the moment and get into the heads of their characters. If some guy is tinkering with the lights, that will pull them right out of the role. And from what I understand, this particular scene was one that was heavy on emotion, so we can surmise that Bale was already pretty charged up for the role, and then it basically all got redirected at the guy to whom he was yelling.
I can't imagine that it's easy to just be "on" like that - to quickly make yourself go through various emotions. I can relate on a very distant level, as I do indeed have to be "on" while dealing with students. Also, there's a bit of acting/performance art in teaching - especially if I'm reading out loud from a play or a novel. And I can tell you, it's annoying when you're reading an emotional scene and some kid gets up to sharpen his pencil. I can't say that I want to blow up at them like Bale did, but that's because I'm pretty much prepared for students to do thoughtless things like this. Bale, however, was trying to work in a professional environment where he expected everybody else to behave similarly. If anything, this outburst from him shows that he cares about what he's doing, and he cares about giving the audience the best performance that he can give. At least, that's what I get out of it anyway.
In all honesty, while I don't think that yelling and cursing is the best way to handle such problems, I can honestly say that I could see myself doing the same thing in his shoes. Of course, I don't really know the whole story. Maybe he yells like this all the time and he really is a jerk. However, it doesn't seem to be the same kind of hissy fit that Bill O'Reilly had years ago. With that, O'Reilly's anger seemed to come more from confusion and stupidity on his part. Bale seems to be frustrated at a guy who's interfering with his job.
So, is Christian Bale a jerk? I don't know. Maybe he is. I just don't think that this is a damning piece of evidence for that conclusion is all.