HONG KONG — The director of the Chinese war epic Nanjing Heroes was impressed by Christian Bale’s professionalism and willingness to forego Hollywood comforts on the film shoot.
Bale arrived in Nanjing alone Feb. 2 and insisted on the same accommodations as the director and crew, director Zhang Yimou was quoted as saying in a statement by his production company.
Bale also attended an extra’s birthday party, “playing around with everyone, playing hard, without the pretense of a big star at all.”
The Oscar winner for The Fighter and star of The Dark Knight portrays an American priest in the Second World War movie.
He finished filming recently and returned to England, the statement sent to The Associated Press said.
“An A-list Hollywood actor travelling alone to an alien country and an alien set, working and living for several months with several hundred foreigners he doesn’t know well — that is very incredible and very impressive to me,” Zhang was quoted as saying.
The director best known in the West for Raise the Red Lantern and To Live called Bale a generous performer.
“When I asked him for a certain kind of performance, he gave me three approaches. When I asked for three approaches, he gave me five,” he said.
“He always wanted to give me more, so I have a wider range of choices. His professionalism often touched me. He is a great role model for Chinese actors.”
The film is an adaptation of a Chinese-language novel by contemporary writer Yan Geling about 13 sex workers in Nanjing who volunteered to replace university students as escorts for invading Japanese soldiers.
In the novel, the American priest leads a church that shelters prostitutes and young female students during the invasion.
One of China’s best-known modern directors, Zhang’s recent releases include A Simple Noodle Story, an adaptation of the Coen brothers’ 1984 movie Blood Simple, and Under the Hawthorn Tree, a love story set in China’s decade-long ultra-leftist Cultural Revolution.
Nanjing Heroes, a $90 million production, is scheduled to finish shooting in June and will be released in China on Dec. 16.