Today I am so pleased to have Harrison Cheung as Wednesday’s Guest. Harrison has spent a number of years working in Hollywood as a talent manager, publicist, and personal assistant, and one of his clients was Christian Bale, the amazing actor who showed us another side of the legendary Batman. Harrison wrote a book based on the years he worked with Bale. Christian Bale; The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman, published by BenBella Books. The biography, co-authored with Nicola Pittam, chronicles Bale’s years as a former child actor, to Internet sensation, to the star of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy.
According to an article at WikiNut, Batman does not drink alcohol. His alter-ego, Bruce Wayne, fools people by drinking ginger ale and pretending it is champagne. So let’s all grab a glass of ale and pretend it is ginger and welcome Harrison to the blog.
|Photo Courtesy of MSN Food|
|Or we could just have tea courtesy of Harrison who is sometimes referred to as Alfred|
Q. Is there any anecdote from your years of working with Christian Bale that is not in the book that you would like to share?
A. Nothing printable! 🙂 But aside from Hollywood orgies and other benefits of hanging out with an up and coming actor in L.A., I do remember how remarkably naïve Christian could be. He had never been to a hair salon when he was growing up in England, and after a week of me bugging him to get his hair cut, he went to a salon in Manhattan Beach, California. When the stylist took him to the back room to shampoo his hair, he thought she was hitting on him so he unzipped his pants! As I recall, he was told by other British actors that he could look forward to being a novelty in America.
Q. Did you have a close relationship with him, or was it purely a job?
A. It was a very close relationship. At times, I felt he was like an odd kid brother, especially as he was such a stranger in a strange land, having just relocated from England to Los Angeles. He is the youngest in his family, and the only son, so he never really connected with his sisters.
Q. If you could go back in time, what one thing would you change about yourself?
A. If I could go back in time, I would go back to my teen years and encourage my younger self to be more confident. I spent the early part of my career promoting other people’s careers rather than developing my own talents. I was always worried that my ethnicity would bar me from pursuing my love of film and writing. When I was in high school, the guidance counselor really damaged my self-confidence when she told me not to pursue writing because – and I’ll forever remember her quote “No one will ever hire a Chinese person to write English.”
Q. If you could go through a wormhole, would you go into the future, the past, or stay right here? Why?
A. I think I’d go to the future with the hope that ethnicity and race will matter less. It was always an issue growing up. It occasionally resurfaces as an issue even today. I recently read that Asian-Americans continue to be the most bullied minority in the U.S., and that makes me very sad.
Q. Have you always wanted to be a writer, or have you come to writing after another career? What was that career?
A. I think I’ve always wanted to be a film director, but those opportunities didn’t present themselves when I was growing up. I came from a very pragmatic Chinese family that had survived WW2 and my parents really wanted me to have a career where I could prosper, so the concept of the “starving artist” was alien to them! In a way, a writer is a director because we storyboard the tale in our minds.
After university, marketing in the high tech industry was my bread and butter until I moved to Los Angeles. Marketing in the film industry was very unstable, so today, my day job is still marketing in the high tech industry, but my writing is very important to me. It is cathartic. It is therapeutic. And it’s taken me years to do what I had always wanted to do.
Q. What are your favorite movies?
A. I’ve had an uncanny ability to catch independent films and pick out up and coming actors. So I think I have a pretty good eye for talent. I’ve worked with Bale, of course, as well as Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Gosling. I love some of their earlier work. Unknown actors take bigger chances and risks. Once they’re famous, they all have to worry about public image and box office.
I thought Christian’s first major film, Empire of the Sun was wonderful. Ryan Gosling was in a searingly unforgettable movie about Neo-Nazis called The Beliver. I did the Internet marketing for a cult favorite that starred a then unknown Gyllenhaal, Donnie Darko. A couple years ago, I saw a brilliant film called We Need to Talk About Kevin that stars a wonderful new American actor, Ezra Miller. And a few years back, I caught this very touching film called Wah-Wah that starred Nicholas Hoult, an actor who is on the brink of breaking out.
Q. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
A. I’ve always enjoyed ancient history, and would love to go to China and Egypt some day to look at Xi An – where the terracotta warriors were found, and to see the Great Pyramids. I read Marco Polo as a child and would love to retrace the Silk Road. I’ve traveled across Canada and the U.S. and am disappointed with the “mall-ification” of North America. We have the same chain restaurants and stores in every city. I have a romantic notion that the Old World still has many places that don’t have a McDonald’s; where a restaurant serves a 1000 year old recipe that they refuse to sell to Olive Garden.
Q. What gives you the most pleasure in writing?
A. I’m currently working on a novel. I completed the initial draft for the November Novel Writing competition where you write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. The initial reaction from my agent, my editor and my writing coach have been overwhelming positive. Though I’ve been very lucky that my Christian Bale biography has been successful, I prefer to be a novelist because I think I have some interesting stories to tell. By comparison, writing a non-fiction biography with lawyers fact-checking like crazy was very dry.
And therein lies the pleasure. The characters in my novel come alive, and I feel as if I’m watching a movie in my head. Sometimes, dialogue just occurs to me. Sometimes, plotting is like solving a mathematical problem, and I’d be so pleased with myself that I’ve figured out a solution to tell the tale.
Q. What do you do for fun?
A. I consider myself a gourmand and can be devastatingly picky with my Yelp reviews! I hate eating the same thing in a row, so I love to explore new eateries of every cuisine on every level – whether it be a fancy five-star restaurant or a fast food for lunch bite. So when I combine this for my love of travel, I really want to eat my way around the world!
The Christian Bale biography was an Amazon 100 Best Seller and has garnered stellar reviews and won the Indie Book Award, Indie Excellence Award, and the Texas Association of Authors Award for Best Biography. The book remains popular with Baleheads and Hollywood watchers, with over 75,000 Facebook fans. Harrison and the book have been featured on Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition, and Chelsea Lately. Harrison will next be seen on Thursday, April 17 on E! Network’s Secret Societies of Hollywood. He will be appearing on three segments of the hit series.
The Christian Bale book is available in stores and online across Canada and the U.S.
The Christian Bale Biography Facebook page to see posts about Bale and movie-related news.
The Christian Bale Biography on Twitter
4 thoughts on “Christian Bale – An Inside Story”
I remember Empire of the Sun – was it really 1987? Wow – time passes.
It must be fascinating to have the access that leads to such an in-depth biography. And we can assume all the Hollywood bits are true, right?
Thanks to both of you for this informative and entertaining interview, and good luck to Mr. Cheung on the book. I’ll be sure to check it out.
Alicia, it is always fascinating to get an up-close look at the lives of celebrities. That’s why all those entertainment shows are so popular. 🙂
I’m interested in the fiction Harrison is working on and look forward to the release of the first book.
Based on this interview, I’d almost rather read a biography of Harrison. He sounds like a very interesting individual.
LD, Harrison is a very interesting man. I’m glad I met him at the art festival in Killeen and got to know him. The life of a talent manager, which is one of the hats he wore in Hollywood, is never easy. I had a friend who did that for a number of years, so I got the inside story of what a cut-throat business that is. And we thought publishing was bad. LOL