Exodus: Gods and Kings: Finding true Moses is no easy task

Christian Bale has a reputation for being mercurial and intense in years past, but during a recent telephone conversation, the 40-year-old actor proved to be thoughtful, even modest, as he described tackling the monumental role of Moses in Ridley Scott’s biblical epic, “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” opening Friday, Dec. 12.

Christian Bale as Moses in “Exodus: Gods and Kings” photo/20th century fox

“Of course, it was incredibly daunting,” said Bale, best known for playing Batman in the “Dark Knight” trilogy, as well as his Academy Award-winning turn in David O. Russell’s “The Fighter” and his portrayal of a Jewish conman in Russell’s 2013 “American Hustle,” which earned him another Oscar nod.

“I thought, how on earth am I going to portray Moses? Everybody has such a strong idea of who Moses should be; he is so crucial, especially to the Jews, and to Christians and Muslims as well.”

As a child in Britain, Bale said he attended “various religious services” and developed a “tremendous respect” for people of faith. But by the time Scott came calling about Moses, Bale said he was nonreligious and, to boot, everything he knew about the Jewish prophet came from Charlton Heston’s performance in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 classic film, “The Ten Command-ments.”

To prepare for the role, Bale immersed himself in arduous research, reading the Torah, he said, “from beginning to end,” as well as the Quran, Louis Ginzberg’s “The Legends of the Jews” and “Moses: A Life” by Jonathan Kirsch, which helped the actor get a handle on his character’s “humanity,” he said.

This article was reprinted from the L.A. Jewish Journal; view the full story here.

Naomi Pfefferman

L.A. Jewish Journal