I've been at this now for going on 15 years, and even before I was doing it online, I chased rumors down for my own curiosity.  Living and working in Los Angeles, you hear things from the strangest of sources, hints dropped in passing, a piece of info from one person leading you to make some connection that allows you to coax another piece of info from another person until suddenly something snaps into vivid focus.  And sometimes, even when I feel like I've got the puzzle pieces all laid out, I can't quite make them fit together the way I think they should.

Over the last three weeks, I've had three random encounters with people, and each one gave me a different hint towards something that I've been curious about for a while now:  who will be playing John Carter for director Andrew Stanton in "John Carter Of Mars," the long-in-development adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp classic.  It's a great role, and if the first film works, it could easily be the cornerstone for a new franchise.  And with Stanton at the helm, I can't imagine this will be anything less than amazing.

So who's the lucky guy tapped for the lead?  Well, my initial source told me point blank that it was Christian BaleAnd then a secondary source disputed that directly.  Still... that first source sounded incredibly confident about it.  I would imagine many of the usual suspects are in the running.  And although Stanton's been Tweeting lately about casting being underway, things have been fairly quiet.  And then, like I said, a flurry of hints and innuendo, leading me to try to piece things together.  And based on the clues I'd gotten, I was fairly confident walking into the "Terminator: Salvation" press day, thinking I was going to be able to drop the question directly on the guy who had emerged as the most likely John Carter.  Even the people who were talking around the name of the actor, giving me very vague hints, seemed to be all pointing at the same guy, so I felt confident enough to bring it up.

[more after the jump]

I'd been sitting on the information I pieced together because none of the people who had inadvertantly tipped me off were going to be able (or willing) to confirm the rumor directly.  I figured that was going to require me sitting across from the actor and asking them, face-to-face.

The response I got was not what I expected, as you'll see when we finally post my video interview with Christian Bale soon.  First, he knocked me off my game just before I could ask.  I have a split lip right now thanks to my almost-four-year-old son's belief that he is Wolverine, and as I was about to ask my question, Bale stopped me cold with "So, hey, man, did you lose a bar fight or what?"  By the time I managed to answer that and then try to steer things back around, my sixteen seconds with Bale was almost up.  I swear, these TV spots at these junkets last just long enough to sit down and look across at someone, and then you're done.  I realized I wasn't going to be able to work my way into the question as I intended so, with no grace at all, I blurted, "Okay, hypothetically speaking, if you were approached to star in Andrew Stanton's 'John Carter Of Mars,' is that a role that would interest you?"

He didn't even blink.  "I don't know what that is."

He went on to explain that he doesn't think in terms of how many franchises he is or isn't attached to, but that he picks things based on the role.  He re-emphasized that as much as he could tell that I was excited by the idea of him starring in "John Carter of Mars," he doesn't have any idea what that project is.

So now I'm back to square one.  I may have misread every early indicator I had about the casting.  Or Bale may simply be a reeeeeeally good poker player who had no interest in tipping his hand to me.  Or maybe I jumped the gun and asked him before Pixar moved from "he's the top of our list" to "we've actually asked him to play the part."  Whatever the case, I offer this all not as an absolute, but as a way for you guys to see how even with multiple sources, even with what felt like pretty solid information, chasing down these rumors can be frustrating and, in the case of the Bale interview, it can actually undermine what should have been a better overall conversation with somebody.  I feel like I really fumbled that face-to-face.

For the record... I think he'd be a great John Carter, and it'd be nice to see him in a film that's just plain fun for once.

We'll have a full line-up of "Terminator: Salvation" interviews for you next week, leading up to the film's release, and it's fun stuff.  For now, it's off to put together today's Morning Read....

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