LOS ANGELES – If you’re thinking Christian Bale’s hideous villain Gorr the God Butcher will haunt you forever after seeing “Thor: Love and Thunder,” be thankful you never heard the Gorr infinity scream.
That’s right, Bale unleashed an impromptu and prolonged Gorr super-howl on his first day of filming director Taika Waititi’s Marvel film.
“There was this scream that was never-ending,” says Bale, laughing about the dark moment now. “It was a scream people might have thought was ending soon. But, no, it kept going and going and going, I could tell, no one quite knew what to think.
“That scene will never see the light of day,” he adds.
But it’s all part of Bale’s process of finding the right villain mode in “Love and Thunder,” the quirky superhero adventure anchored in Chris Hemsworth’s often hilarious Thor, who has recovered his god bod.
Bale’s deathly, head-scarred Gorr, whose inky mouth drips black bile, is charged with bringing the fear.
“That was my job, to come in and provide that creepiness element,” says Bale, 48. “You have to find that edge, what’s too little, what’s too much. And hit the right note.”
Even if that note does not involve a shriek from hell.
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Bale, unrecognizable in his Oscar-nominated role as Dick Cheney in 2018’s “Vice” and who famously lost more than 60 pounds for the thriller “The Machinist,” focused on finding his Gorr for his return to superhero movies following the “Dark Knight” franchise.
Amid the pandemic, the Welsh-born actor worked with the makeup team over Zoom to mold Gorr, the once-pious man who turns deity serial killer after his god Rapu lets his daughter (played by Hemsworth’s real-life daughter India, 10) die.
The hideous prosthetic-heavy look took four hours in the makeup chair before going on the set each day. Bale would listen to music like the “fantastically Gorr-like” Bruce Haack album “The Electric Lucifer” to help get in the moody mindset during the lengthy process.
The physical result is outright terrifying for most. For Bale’s two children, Emmeline, 17, and Joseph, 7 (both play children of New Asgard in the film), the look was just kind of Dad’s thing after the first family unveiling.
“There’s always a look, they assess it for a minute or two, then it’s like ‘All right we get it,’ ” says Bale. “And then it’s just ‘Dad.’ ”
Filming brought out Bale’s Gorr intensity experimentation. Before the silenced Gorr scream, Bale had thrown himself into a strange improvised dance he describes as “a demented nun.” That, too, was scrapped.
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Hemsworth says now of Bale’s early Gorr filming days: “I remember thinking this is scary as hell. And, like, is this too intense?”
After three days of Gorr turned to 11 on the villain scale, Bale pulled Waititi aside.
“I asked him, ‘Am I in the wrong movie or am I totally getting this wrong?’ ” Bale recalls. “(Waititi) actually said to me, ‘Well, I’m glad you said it.’ I said, ‘That’s cryptic. Do you want more or less?’ But we figured it out.”
The trial and error as Bale tossed out moments never ended entirely. It was RIP for one scene where Gorr carves off the head tattoos that served as symbols of his devotion to Rapu, the god he came to loathe.
“We shot scenes where (Gorr) is cutting himself and there was black blood oozing down,” says Bale, who seems disappointed that moment didn’t make the PG-13 film from Disney/Marvel. “The powers that be decided that was perhaps too much for everybody. We pushed it too far. But we knew where the edge was.”
The lightened-up Bale even larked about as Gorr in between scenes with the children who play his hostages.
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“The kids realized that I was just a silly bloke under this terrible makeup,” says Bale. “They would grab my sword, ask me to do tricks with the black bile in my mouth. I became a circus figure.”
Or a figure with revealed heart. Hemsworth says Gorr is his favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe villain because of Bale’s eventual “nuanced performance.”
“He brings empathy and humor to someone doing terrible, twisted things,” says Hemsworth. “Christian is the master of that.”
Hemsworth witnessed that empathy in a scene with India in which Bale cries mournfully holding his screen daughter.
“Chris was sitting off-camera, like a good dad,” says Bale. who praised India for ensuring the scene worked by acting sympathetic with her gruesome screen partner. “I was crying my eyes out. Just bawling. And India is totally going along with it. In between takes, she would be like ‘Ewww!’ But she was impeccable.”
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