20th Century Fox has today released the first trailer for Le Mans ‘66 and while everyone agrees James Mangold’s motor racing drama looks absolutely brilliant it’s Christian Bale’s accent that’s got people talking.
Bale plays British-born driver Ken Miles in the film that charts the battle between Ford and Ferrari to claim victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.
Miles, a native of Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham, speaks with a distinctly British accent - not a million miles from Bale’s natural accent - which seems to have confused a lot of people who’ve only ever heard the Dark Knight star talking with an American accent.
“Why is Christian Bale putting on a British accent in the new #FordvsFerrari film?” one person asked on Twitter, referring to the film by its international title.
It’s not surprising so many have been confused, as Bale’s accent is nothing short of mercurial.
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Born in Haverfordwest, Wales, but raised in England, Bale has said in the past: "I was born in Wales but I'm not Welsh – I'm English".
“I was born in Wales but I don't think I've got any ring of Welsh in my accent at all," he later added.
Since his Hollywood breakthrough in 2000’s American Psycho, Bale has tended to play Americans on screen, and often uses an American accent when being interviewed, or appearing at awards ceremonies.
He says he dropped his native accent in a bid to break away from being cast in costume dramas after he kept being offered roles “in a sort of billowing sleeve and vest period thing with floppy hair and stuff”.
He added: “Great, but that’s not what I wanted to do for my whole life. But that was all that kept coming my way, but it was work, and in England it was no work. And so I said I’ve really got to just be able to convince people I’m American.”
That’s not the only thing Bale has changed for Le Mans ‘66. Having packed on 40lbs to play Dick Cheney in the Oscar-nominated Vice, Bale lost 50lbs to play the lean race car driver in the new film from the director of Logan.
The actor’s weight loss was also a hot topic of conversation online.
Talking about Le Mans 66, which lands in UK cinemas on the awards-friendly 8 November, director James Mangold said: “I love stories that take you to a time when we were a little less cautious: when we were first figuring out our relationship to technology, how we were going to make excellent tools and faster better contraptions based upon our instincts more than computer models.
“Now, we’ve become so corporate, liability-protected, computer simulated and risk averse it’s hard to imagine the same kind of discovery is even possible. The eccentric characters who pioneered racing, much like our astronauts and test pilots, put their lives on the line every day.
“The cars were prototypes, one of a kind, and sometimes death traps, dawning-age beasts so powerful they could tear themselves apart. The men behind the wheel and in the pits and garages came from all walks of life, speed junkies, technical engineers, entrepreneurs, military men, street racers, gamblers, designers, hot rodders, and car geeks, young and old. All working together at the very edge of technology without a map.”
Here’s a synopsis:
Academy Award-winners Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in LE MANS ‘66, based on the true story of the visionary American car designer Carroll Shelby (Damon) and the fearless British-born driver Ken Miles (Bale), who together battled corporate interference, the laws of physics, and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford Motor Company and take on the dominating race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.