Christian Bale, star of the new Batman films, was recently involved in a violent confrontation with Chinese security guards when he and a CNN film crew tried to visit a blind legal activist under house arrest.
The incident occurred on Thursday, December 15, CNN reported, adding the men also engaged the 37-year-old, Oscar-winning Welsh actor and the journalists in a high-speed car chase. Part of the scuffle can be seen in a video released by the network.
Chen Guangcheng, 40, has been confined to his home in the village of Dongshigu for more than a year and also served time in jail for damaging property and helping to organize a protest. His campaigns against issues such as forced abortions have drawn global attention to human rights issues in China, a Communist state.
CNN said the violent incident began after four security guards started marching in "menacing unison" towards Bale and the TV crew as they approached a checkpoint at the entrance to Chen's village.
Bale told them, "I am here to see Chen Guangcheng," and a translator relayed his message to the guards, who then yelled at them to leave. Dozens more guards and two minivans soon arrived, CNN said. Bale asked repeatedly "Why can I not visit this free man?" and was then punched and pushed by the guards, who grabbed for his small camera and tried to drag the actor away.
"A precarious scene ensued Thursday as one of the gray minivans chased our car at high speed on bumpy country roads for some 40 minutes," CNN reporter Steven Jiang wrote.
"What I really wanted to do is shake the man's hand and say, 'Thank you' and tell him what an inspiration he is," Bale told CNN in a video interview.
"You know, I'm not being brave doing this," Bale added. "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, getting detained for it and everything. I want to support what they are doing. This doesn't come naturally to me. But this was just a situation ... I said, I can't look the other way."
Bale did not appear to suffer any major injuries during the incident. The Chinese government has not commented about the matter.
Earlier this week, Bale and his wife Sibi attended a premiere in Beijing to promote his new $94 million movie "The Flowers of War," which was shot in China and was released there on Friday, December 16. The film is being touted as the most expensive Chinese-made movie, the New York Times said. It hit select theaters in the United States earlier this month. (See photos of Christian Bale at the film premiere)
The film is based on the Yan Geling novel "13 Flowers of Nanjing" and is set in 1937. Bale plays a phony priest who tries to protect schoolgirls at a cathedral from invading Japanese soldiers. Meanwhile, prostitutes arrive and volunteer to replace the students as escorts for the troops.
Bale rose to fame as the teenage star of Steven Spielberg's 1987 film "Empire of the Sun", which told of a young English boy in China who struggles to survive after the invasion of Japanese forces during World War II.
He went on to star in films such as "Little Women," "American Psycho" and "Terminator Salvation." He made headlines in 2009 after a video of his expletive-filled confrontation on the latter film's set was leaked online. He apologized publicly for his words.
In 2010, he won his first Oscar, for his role in "The Fighter." Bale is currently known best for his role as Batman and the superhero's alter ego Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan's hit film series, starting with "Batman Begins" in 2005. He reprised his role in the 2008 movie "The Dark Knight" and in the third installment, "The Dark Knight Rises," which hits theaters on July 20, 2012.Bale has said the movie will be his and Nolan's final Batman film.
Check out a video of Christian Bale and the CNN crew being attacked by guards in China below.