Christian Bale Fights Chinese Guards, Chen Guangcheng Meeting Denied
Christian Bale scuffled with guards on Thursday as he was denied a chance to meet Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese lawyer and civil rights activist who has been under house arrest in China for over a year.
Bale, who will star in the upcoming Chinese film “The Flowers of War,” went on an eight-hour drive with a CNN crew to visit Chen in the city of Linyi, where he’s been held in his own home since September 2010. When Bale approached Chen’s house, he was met by an escalating number of guards as he protested being prevented from entering Chen’s house. Punches were thrown and shoving ensued as Bale, along with the CNN camera crew, tried to push his way through to the house.
Chen, a women’s rights activist, was originally arrested in 2006 and sentenced to four years in prison for “damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic.” Video of authorities beating him in his own home leaked to the web in 2010, causing outraged responses from civil rights groups.
“I’m not being brave doing this. The local people who are standing up to the authorities and insisting on going to visit Chen and his family and getting beaten up for it and my understanding is getting detained for it — I want to support what they’re doing,” Bale told the CNN crew.
In October, film studio Relativity Media came under fire for planning a film shoot in Linyi, a city in Shandong province.
The Chinese government partially funded the production of “The Flowers of War,” in which Bale stars as an American who finds himself in the middle of the infamous Rape of Nanking, a mass murder and rape spree carried out by Japanese soldiers in 1937. The Zhang Yimou-directed film hits American theaters in limited release in late December for a qualifying run for the Oscars, as China’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Bale has been in China to promote the film, though he has since left.
UPDATE (9:58 PM EST): “He’s been following the story and he was just really moved by the story and what this man’s trying to do and it’s impossible [to see him],” Bale’s representative told us, “and he thought, he was there for work, and he would try and see if he could help. [It was] just really being moved on a personal level and that is what he chose to do.”