LOS ANGELES — Bruce Wayne slips in and out of shadows with little chance of detection. John Connor of "Terminator Salvation” eludes the all-knowing electronic eyes of the Skynet killing machines. But Christian Bale cannot get in and out of Bartlesville without someone noticing.
In October, sightings of Bale caused a stir in Bartlesville when a barista at a local Starbucks served the "Terminator Salvation” star a grande chai latte. When The Oklahoman asked Bale why he visited the town, the 35-year-old actor grinned widely. "What do you mean?” Bale asked. "That’s offensive to Bartlesville. Who doesn’t want to go there? Are you from Bartlesville?” Once he ascertained that this reporter was from Oklahoma and not a foot soldier in a TMZ.com-deployed army of Midwestern paparazzi, Bale offered slightly more information. "I was there ... for ... doing a little bit of location scouting and getting ideas for something that ... might ... happen,” he said. There would be no more elaboration, but Bale carefully chooses what he does and what he says these days. "Terminator Salvation” director McG said Bale was his immediate choice to play Connor, humanity’s savior in the battle against treacherous technology. Bale was not so easily swayed. "When people look at the franchise mythology and think that it’s over, you’ve got to come back with something that knocks people out,” Bale said. "I didn’t think it was there; but that was not just me, it was everybody. I felt like the franchise was done, so when I first got sent it, I didn’t have any interest. Then I sort of got a creeping idea that there was something good that could be told here. And if that was going to happen, then absolutely.” After copious script doctoring and assurance that a fourth chapter in the saga was worth telling, Bale signed on. "Terminator Salvation” dramatically shifts away from both the darkly humorous tone and time-traveling conceit of the first three films, spending its entire time in the foreboding wasteland of California in 2018, when Connor is rallying humanity’s resistance fighters in a great push against the machines’ genocidal war. Bale said the film met his expectations, but he won’t fully know its effect until millions of moviegoers agree to sit in the dark and see it communally.