Bale to star as Rob Hall in Everest movie

Christian Bale
Christian Bale
Almost 17 years after he died while comforting a client during a blizzard on Mt Everest, Wanaka mountain climbing guide Rob Hall will have his heroic story immortalised by Hollywood.

Academy Award-winning actor Christian Bale, who has starred in Batman and American Psycho, will play Mr Hall.

Mr Hall died on Mt Everest in 1996 during a storm that claimed the lives of seven others, including fellow New Zealander Andrew Harris.

Mr Hall's decision to remain with ailing American climber Doug Hansen instead of descending to base camp as the storm struck was chronicled in the book Into Thin Air, written by Jon Krakauer, a member of the climbing party.

Guy Cotter, a close friend of Mr Hall's who took over the running of his Wanaka guiding company, Adventure Consultants, following his death, said the movie project had been years in the making.

Mr Cotter had been consulted during the project's early stages and was hopeful it would be an accurate reflection of what transpired.

''We've seen some fairly trashy renditions of what went on in '96, so it is actually good to see that there are some real professionals who want to make a real story of it rather than just doing the standard drama that appeals to everyone's preconceived notions of what mountaineers are like,'' Mr Cotter said.

''Most people close to mountaineering probably don't have a whole lot of faith that a good climbing movie will ever be made.''

At this stage titled Everest, the film is based on interviews and written accounts from survivors of the disastrous May 1996 ascent attempt.

A Working Title Films and Universal Pictures project, Everest will be directed by Icelandic film maker Baltasar Kormakur, whose credits include The Deep and Contraband.

Into Thin Air was made into a television movie in 1997. Mark Inglis, a contemporary of Mr Hall's who became the first double amputee to scale Everest in 2006, said Bale was a good choice to play the Kiwi mountaineer.

''He's a serious guy, and that's Rob,'' Mr Inglis said.

''I think it's really cool that they are doing something, but I hope it is made in the right way.

''I hope they paint the right picture of how incredibly tough Everest is and how incredibly tough are the decisions every one of us make when we are on the mountain.''

Everest will be competing with another film of the same name being made by Sony.

Based on Jeffrey Archer's book Paths Of Glory and directed by Doug Liman, it will tell the story of George Mallory, the British climber who died on his third attempt to become the first man to scale Mt Everest.

Mr Hall's widow, Dr Jan Arnold, could not be reached for comment as she is holidaying in South America. Mr Hall's daughter, Sarah Arnold-Hall (16), was born two months after his death.