Access Hollywood recently sat down with Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and director Christopher Nolan to talk about their new turn-of-the-century tale of magician rivalry, ?The Prestige.? In the film, Bale and Jackman trade deadly tricks of revenge in this twists-and-turns-filled thriller from the director of ?Batman Begins? and ?Memento.?
?It?s a very special story. It?s a very unique movie. I think it’s very rare you get something coming along that is as good in so many areas as this one is,? raves Christian Bale.
Michael Caine, who had been looking for the right script to lure him out of his self-described year- long retirement, had this to say about the story, ?What is unique about it is you have no idea there is another magician called Christopher Nolan who is the writer/director, who is working behind you. The whole movie you?re seeing is a two-hour trick, and I?ve never seen that done before.?
Based on the novel of the same name, Bale also praised the dark multi-layered screenplay by Nolan and his brother and ?Memento? co-writer Jonathan. “I loved the disorientation of the script. I loved the fact that it kept you on your toes, and that you didn?t know ?Who?s the good guy? Who?s the bad guy?? It changed all the time.?
Hugh Jackman loved the idea of playing a man of magic. ?I think magicians fascinate me because what makes someone go into that? What makes someone sacrifice so much of their youth to learn the skill in order to mesmerize people? I understand the drug of it. I understand the payoff. But there’s such huge sacrifices going into being a magician. Every magician I met, Copperfield, Penn & Teller, Lance Burton, and Ricky Jay, I would always ask them ?Which is the point? When did you first get that bug?? ?
Despite the advantage of meeting world famous illusionists, it was still off to train in sleight-of hand and learn the tricks of the trade for Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. Director Christopher Nolan notes his leading men were more than eager to learn. “They picked it up remarkably quickly. We hired Ricky Jay who is a renowned magician and a historian of magic to come on board as a consultant.?
Bale, who portrays Alfred Borden, a magician more adept in the technical aspects of the craft rather than the performance, admits to the hard work and time necessary to perfect his skills. ?I did learn some, but it takes extraordinary commitment. This is something I?d realized was not just ‘Hey I’ll do an hour a day.? It was ?Keep everything on you at all times,? and just in any given moment you just gotta be either playing with the deck of cards, splitting them, shuffling them, you know rolling the coins around, using the rings, whatever it is. It just has to become second nature.?
Though Nolan was impressed with his cast?s learning curve with Ricky Jay, he noticed an air of non-full disclosure regarding the training. ?He taught these guys very quickly exactly what they needed to know for what was going to appear on screen. It was very secretive beyond that. I think sometimes he was even teaching them half a trick. Just the bit they would need to know.? Bale adds, ?I love the fact that they maintain that air of mystery. It is their livelihood.?
Even though Nolan called the shots on the set, he reveals their on-the-set consultant had no issues with leaving the director even further out of the exclusive magician?s club. “He never taught me anything. He would just ask me which side the camera was going to be on. ‘How are you going to shoot it?’ and so forth. But he got together with Hugh and Christian. They picked it up very quickly.?
Bale could see the real life shroud of secrecy extended to his character in the film. ?They cannot give it up. Like my character says as he?s explaining to this boy. He shows him how to do a very simple little trick. But he says to him never to tell anybody. They will hound you for it. They?ll ask you how it?s done. They?ll be impressed by you. The minute you tell them, you?ll mean nothing to them after that. So that is the value. The value is the secrecy.?
Caine concludes by bringing attention to the tagline featured on the film?s poster, ? ?Are you watching closely?? Well you better be because nothing, nothing is what it seems.?