Christian Bale got a lot of bad press for a temper tantrum he had while filming Terminator: Salvation. Fine, let directors of photography trash talk him behind his back, but he deserves a lot of praise from writers for another revelation that’s recently come out. When he was originally offered the role, he said he would only accept it if the director “could refine the script to the point where it could be read on stage without any special effects and still be a compelling story.”
In short, Bale felt that the only way the movie would be worth starring in is if the dialog and the story carried as much impact as the multi-million dollar special effects budget. As a writer, I dream of a day when Hollywood is filled with actors who feel that way. Imagine if every actor and director went into every project demanding that storytelling trump spectacle.
What shocks me most when I see a movie with amazing special effect and lackluster dialog or a mediocre story arc is how foolishly money is spent in the process of making movies. Movie makers think nothing of dropping millions of dollars to make every explosion look cool and every car chase breathtaking. When the car comes screeching to a halt, though, the character development sputters to a halt and the relationship between the two main characters turns into a clunker. Why? Writers are cheap. Trust me, I know. We work for so little. Even truly talented writers rarely make a fortune at their work. So why not shave off some extra money off the crash-and-blow-em-up budget and hire a few more writers to really polish that script?