When Christian Bale took on the lead role in Hostiles, he had no idea how relevant the film’s themes would become.
The actor, who stars as a soldier whose hatred for Native Americans runs deep, was able to create a sympathetic character where we would least expect it.
“I saw it through a character’s point of view addressing the Native American genocide, addressing a man who has known nothing but war struggling to learn how to turn off hatred, how to deal with the guilt of rendering his friends’ deaths meaningless if he does turn that hatred off, all through a man who really is a man of very few words,” he told Asbury Park Press.
“Then what happened in 2016 happened and we were making the film and then this year there started to become just many more Americans being very comfortable, far too comfortable, with expressing hatred towards people who are different from them and (we are) witnessing the great divide once again.”
Although Hostiles is set in 1892 amid the horrors of the Indian Wars, its political, social, and racial themes are more relevant than ever.
“Now of course, we’re not talking genocide, but we are talking a lack of inclusiveness and a question about: ‘What is America? Who is America? What is the ideology of America?’ And that has been, to me, very surprising in how relevant this film has become because of that.”
Hollywood needs more diversity
Bale took time to highlight the importance of telling these kinds of stories on the big screen.
“I think if done with sincerity, they’re invaluable as a means of storytelling and coming together for creating conversation. You know, we’re at a point in film right now where you’re getting either sort of mega-blockbuster superhero movies or incredibly low-budget independents, and we’re losing these films like Hostiles,” he said.
“And I hope that really doesn’t happen because there is something incredibly special about seeing this on a large screen, not only because of the incredible vistas but just of having a community of people sharing that experience together. And it is our modern way of storytelling, isn’t it?”
During a recent panel with AOL Build, the Wales-born actor applied the movie’s underlying themes to today’s contentious climate.
“Hopefully what can come out of all of this is that we will ultimately really be inclusive in not only Washington but Hollywood will cease to be a place that’s run by older white dudes,” he said. “Their stories deserve to be told too, but everyone’s does and it can become a much richer culture for it.”
The actor didn’t hold back while noting today’s divisive political rhetoric isn’t helping society reach its true potential.
“Since November, people try and put it into a red state, blue state thing, and I think that’s really the wrong message and I think it’s really disingenuous as well,” he said.
“Our culture will be so much richer the day that we stop saying, ‘Hey, it’s all white dudes who are running things.’ Whether that be Hollywood, whether that be Washington.”
Check out the full clip below: