Terrence Malick likes being caught on camera about as much as he likes plots in his movies; in other words, not at all. So it was pretty extraordinary a few years ago when he was filmed working with Christian Bale at the Austin City Limits festival.

The footage, about as rare as spotting a living dodo bird, came at a time that the suddenly prolific director was working on two projects simultaneously: Knight of Cups and the project that eventually became Song to Song, which is about to make its world premiere at SXSW. Back then, Bale was supposed to appear in both movies. But the Dark Knight star only ended up shooting a few days on Song to Song and even said back in 2013 that he expected he would be cut from the final film.

Sure enough, right as Song to Song prepares to open SXSW 2017 comes word from various reports (confirmed by several people who have seen the movie) that Bale is missing in action. Although getting cut from a movie is, in most circumstances, a black mark on an actor’s record, it’s something of a badge of honor in the world of Malick. He loves shooting (and then not using) performances from big-name talent almost as much as he hates appearing on camera. Jessica Chastain and Rachel Weisz were both cut from To the Wonder, and several musical acts, including Iron & Wine and Fleet Foxes, were filmed for Song to Song and wound up on the cutting-room floor alongside Bale. Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, and Rooney Mara did make the cut, and you’ll be able to see all of them when Song to Song opens in theaters on March 17.

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