Interview: Christian Bale & Harry Melling on Netflix’s The Pale Blue Eye

ComingSoon editor-in-chief Tyler Treese spoke The light blue eye stars Christian Bale and Harry Melling on Netflix’s new gothic mystery film, which is now streaming. The duo discussed period pieces and filming the crucial final scene.

“A world-weary detective is hired to investigate the murder of a West Point cadet,” reads the film’s synopsis. “Bounded by the cadets’ code of silence, he hires one of their own to help solve the case – a young man the world would come to know as Edgar Allan Poe.”

Tyler Treese: I thought The Pale Blue Eye was great and Christian, not only do you have a big mystery in this movie, but it also takes place in 1830, which is such an interesting time. What did you find most intriguing about this combination of a mystery and a journal?

Christian Bale: Well, first, thank you very much. I’m so glad you enjoyed it and nice talking to you too. That’s what I enjoyed so much about reading the script and imagining what Scott [Cooper, director] would come up with, and then see what Scott and Masa[nobu Takayanagi, cinematographer] came up with and everyone involved, the production designers, everyone… it’s a beautifully atmospheric gothic murder mystery. The setting, the location, is as much a character as Landor – as I play – or Poe – as Harry [Melling] player. I’ve always loved the gothic look and setting it in the 1830s… not everyone can pull it off. Some faces don’t fit the period, some voices… there’s a language to it that – although the American accent wasn’t really formed properly at the time – was a real slur. It is something that is a unique talent to be able to achieve that. This man did it absolutely flawlessly and it was a real pleasure to be able to help Scott put it all together and then see what a success the end result is.

Harry, you are amazing as Edgar Allen Poe. What I love about the character is that you give these big, very poetic speeches. You catch the other characters off guard, even in the movie you say, “Oh, I’m suffering. I’m very dizzy,” and they say, “What?” How fun was it to play with his speech and be very expressive with the way he speaks?

Harry Melling: It was so funny. I think that was one of the things that really appealed to me about the character: he was such an amalgamation of contradictory things. He was this performer, the way he performed these poems for the cadets or for Landor to try to impress them. But at the same time there is a vulnerability there. There is a shyness there, in a strange sense. It was all there in Scott’s script. It was just a matter of maybe joining the dots and filling in the gaps to the beautiful selection that was there in the script. So it was a joy, it really was. A real pleasure to play with.

The last scene in the movie, you and Harry are so vulnerable. It’s very real and raw. What was it like filming the last scene in the movie?

Christian Bale: Obviously a decisive turning point. Really enjoyed experimenting with that scene with Harry. Damn cold! We filmed, I think, like we went through three in the morning or something, right?

Harry Melling: Yes it was.

Christian Bale: But it just adds to it, you know? I actually enjoyed that. I enjoyed the fact that we filmed this in the dead of winter outside of Pittsburgh and it was freezing. It helps add something to it, I think.

Harry Melling: Yes I agree.

Christian Bale: It was interesting because there are choices to be made and we could have given Scott more choices, but actually Scott is very, very determined. He knows what he’s looking for. Because of how complex that scene is – and it is very complex [with] all the subtext and reading between the lines – it was actually very simple, the methods by which we achieved it.

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