LONDON – The darkness around Batman has deepened: While audiences were shattering weekend box-office records in the U.S., Christian Bale was in London, where his mother and sister reportedly leveled assault allegations against the star of "The Dark Knight" that have yet to become clear.
Bale said the allegations were false Tuesday, hours after the Wales-born actor was arrested, questioned by London police and released on bail. The 34-year-old actor spent four hours talking with authorities but was not charged.
British media reported that Bale's mother and sister told police he assaulted them at the Dorchester Hotel in London on Sunday night, a day before attending the European premiere of "The Dark Knight." The Sun newspaper said the complaint was filed by sister Sharon Bale and mother Jenny Bale.
"Christian Bale attended a London police station today on a voluntary basis," read a statement from Bale's lawyer, Simon Smith, of the London-based firm Schillings. "Bale, who denies the allegation, cooperated throughout, gave his account in full of the events in question, and has left the station without any charge being made against him by the police."
A woman thought to be Bale's sister Sharon told reporters "it's a family matter" from her home in Corfe Mullen, 110 miles southwest of London. A man who answered the door at the home of Jenny Bale in nearby Bournemouth said she did not want to comment.
The reports surfaced just days after "The Dark Knight," which co-stars Heath Ledger as Batman's nemesis the Joker, took a record $158.4 million at the box office in its opening weekend. Ledger, who took the iconic villain to a deeply disturbed and diabolical place, died earlier this year of an accidental drug overdose in New York -- a circumstance that has only added to the movie's brooding mystique.
Asked Tuesday whether Bale had been arrested, a London police spokesman did not refer to him by name but said: "A 34-year-old man attended a central London police station this morning by appointment and was arrested in connection with an allegation of assault."
The spokesman requested anonymity because he is not authorized to be identified under police policy. British police do not name suspects who have not been formally charged.
The force later said in a statement that the man had been released on bail pending further inquiries and told to return in September. It did not specify the date.
The Sun said police did not question the actor Monday because they did not want to interfere with the premiere of the movie. The next scheduled stops on the film's European premiere tour were Madrid, Spain, July 23; and Tokyo on July 28.
In the sequel to "Batman Begins," Bale reprises the role of wealthy playboy Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting alter-ego Batman, a brooding vigilante superhero still scarred by the murder of his parents.
In his destructive battle of wits with the Joker, Batman pushes his own ethical boundaries, and ultimately is forced into the shadows. Winding up what may be the darkest -- and most critically acclaimed -- superhero movie ever, Bale's Batman truly becomes, as coined by Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred: "The Dark Knight."
Bale first made a splash as the child star of Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" in 1987 and as an adult has made his name with intense screen roles. His earlier films include "American Psycho" and "The Machinist."
Bale is the youngest of four children and is the stepson of Gloria Steinem. Her assistant said Tuesday that the author and feminist leader was at a writing retreat and unavailable for comment.
Bale's current project is playing John Connor in "Terminator Salvation," scheduled for filming this week in New Mexico. The film "will continue to shoot with Mr. Bale when he has completed his International tour for 'The Dark Knight,"' said Lee Anne Muldoon, unit publicist for the movie.
A records check turned up no criminal record for Bale in the Los Angeles area, where he's lived with his wife, Sibi Blazic, and their young daughter.