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They're men of mystery

FALL SNEAKS | `The Prestige'

September 10, 2006|Susan King | Times Staff Writer

MUCH fun could be made of "The Prestige" as a sort of superhero showdown, cape versus claws, Batman versus Wolverine ... but that would be beneath us.

Although "The Prestige" does star Christian Bale ("Batman Begins") and Hugh Jackman ("X-Men"), neither will be found in tights or spikes in this film about rival magicians set in London of the early 1900s. The movie does, however, reunite the 32-year-old Bale with his "Batman" director, Christopher Nolan ("Memento").

"He is very solid," says Bale of the director. "He is kind of like the Egyptian pyramids -- well-made and flush. You can't get a card between any of the bricks. I can't get anything past him, even the smallest detail to deal with my character."

It was during the production of "Batman" that the idea of Bale in "The Prestige," which opens Oct. 20, came up. "But it really didn't register with me properly until I read it after 'Batman,' " Bale says of the film, adapted by Nolan and his brother Jonathan from the 1995 Christopher Priest novel.

After completing two other films -- "Harsh Times" and "Rescue Dawn" -- Bale was looking to do something special and found the "Prestige" script to be "remarkable" and "enigmatic." And just as Nolan's acclaimed "Memento" demanded more than one viewing because of its unusual reverse story structure, Bale feels audiences will be compelled to check out "Prestige" more than once.

"I think it's very much its own creature," he says, "but absolutely something where you can appreciate it even more on the second viewing."

Bale describes his character of Alfred Borden, a young magician who comes up with the perfect illusion, to be a man of mystery. "He relies upon secrets and illusions," he says. "Not just in his work but in his every bone. He is somebody who lives for what he does."

So has the British actor hung up his Bat Wings for good? Not at all. He has two films lined up first, including James Mangold's remake of the western classic "3:10 to Yuma," and then Bale and Nolan will collaborate next year on "The Dark Knight."

It was Nolan's commitment to the second feature that lured Bale back to the cave. "I wouldn't have wanted to do a 'Batman' that was going down the old road," he says. "I would not have wanted to be involved in that at all."

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