Christian Bale by Ryan Born/ Christian Bale by Ryan Born/

Since Christian Bale was questioned and released without being charged in relation to the accusations of assault leveled by his mother and sister, what do we make of all of this? If we've learned anything from Christian Bale's notoriously tight-lipped relationship with the media, chances are really good that we'll never know for sure what happened in that London hotel room. His family is keeping quiet, and while reports from anonymous sources try to explain the incident that led to Bale's arrest, the actor has issued one statement denying the assault accusations and claiming that no further comment will be made. And that's probably the truth.

Bale, who still hasn't revealed the name of his 3-year-old daughter to the media, is so press shy that I was shocked to read his recent candid interview with Parade, in which he was "happy to talk about" his late Dark Knight and I'm Not There costar, Heath Ledger, who died in January from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. "It takes a long time to accept that someone's gone, when all body and mind are telling you that this is somebody you will know for a great deal of time," Bale said. "He was something of a kindred spirit to myself." (Oddly enough, one of the things the two actors shared was a reticence around reporters.)

But during the past two weeks - as Bale led the PR caravan for the release of The Dark Knight - it seemed that brief openness was all we would get. The movie's star seemed short with reporters and agitated in much of the press he did. Even so, I - a confessed fan of Bale and his work - was shocked at the news of his arrest and am still scratching my head. But then I began to wonder: What if Bale is just cracking under the pressure? Could being forced into the huge media spotlight as the summer's biggest movie star (behind Ledger, of course) have renewed his media hesitation and put him on edge?

In addition to being wary (and weary) of the press, Bale's shooting schedule since wrapping The Dark Knight has been taxing: He shot Michael Mann's gangster flick Public Enemies, and when he finishes his worldwide Dark Knight media tour, he'll resume shooting next summer's franchise blockbuster, Terminator Salvation. But Bale is best known for his dark, intense roles, such as American Psycho's Patrick Bateman or his unhealthily thin insomniac in The Machinist. Prior to Batman Begins, fans expected to see him in independent films and character studies rather than fanboy franchises. Is he more comfortable when his work is as introverted as he is? Is the role of Hollywood franchise front man too much for him?

I am not interested in creating new rumors surrounding this mysterious case, and I am neither attempting to champion his innocence nor make excuses for whatever behavior he may or may not have displayed in that hotel room. In truth, I believe this case will fizzle out, or that it will end up being little more than a blip on the radar. And I will still be a fan. But it can't hurt to ask ourselves: Are some actors just not made to endure the pressure of being a Hollywood star? - Adam Bryant

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