Looking Back At The Massive Transformations Christian Bale Has Made In Film

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Looking Back At The Massive Transformations Christian Bale Has Made In Film

Christian Bale is a rare breed in modern cinema. Both a character-actor and box office smasher. A household name yet impressively private. He is also incredibly devoted to method acting.

Method acting translating to, in simple terms, the choice to become one with the role you're playing both on and off-set. Famous examples include Robert De Niro doing graveyard shifts in a New York cab in the lead-up to Taxi Driver, Robert De Niro putting away gross amounts of doughnuts to portray the portly Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull and Robert De Niro getting shredded at the age of 48 for the 1991 remake of Cape Fear.

OK, so most classic examples are Robert De Niro, but in 10 or 20 years' time, it will be our generation who arguably make Christian Bale the poster boy for the method.


Image: Paramount Classics

So when did it all begin? Even though Bale had spent the late nineties and early noughties playing acutely-toned and agile characters, it was in 2004's The Machinist, where he played a haggard insomniac, that he cemented his reputation as a method actor worthy of comparison to his heroes growing up.

Bale lost a huge 65 pounds when he played Trevor Reznik, surviving on an apple and can of tuna per day, taking up chain-smoking to appease any other cravings. When he wanted to lose a further five pounds, medical professionals told him he would probably die if his weight dropped any lower.

"I had been to a nutritionist and when I had got down to what she had told me was a healthy weight, I just went, 'You know what? I can go more than this," Bale later said of the advice. "So I lost another 20 pounds below what she said I should stop at."


Image: Paramount Classics

Co-star Michael Ironside even once recalled the time Bale showed off his weight-loss to him in his trailer.

"The muscles in his ass had literally dropped out of the sockets of his hips," he said. "The dignity of the muscles, his ass had literally dropped out of the hips and thigh bones. And I said, 'Hey Chris, your ass has dropped.' And he said, 'What do you mean?' And I said, 'You've stopped losing body fat, and now you're actually losing elasticity of muscles' - I forget the exact medical term for it, but I said, 'You've gone beyond body fat, and now you're into actual muscle tissue and things are being affected'."


Image: Warner Bros

The next year, Bale piled on the lost body fat with the help of pizza and ice cream in a matter of months to play Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, who was impressed by the devotion displayed in his The Machinist role.

Here are some other examples of Christian Bale being incredibly good at eating and not eating.



Credit: Lionsgate Films

In the adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' notorious best-seller of the same name, Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman, an immoral Wall Street psychopath whose only pleasures come through some form of materialism. Most importantly, the physical appearance, which he is seen upholding at various points of the film.



Image: Paramount Pictures

Bale would once again shed his stacked physique in boxing drama The Fighter, in which he played Dicky Eklund, the black sheep, crackhead brother of Micky, played by Mark Wahlberg, who is trying to sustain a fighting career.

In the part, Bale displays frantic, nervous energy, complimented by gaunt 1,000-yard stares, selling the drug-addict 'look' about as good as anyone before him.

Pretty good going for a former child-star from Wales.


Image: Colombia Pictures

In order to play con artist Irving Rosenfeld, who is blackmailed by the FBI to commit a sting operation on a whole feast of establishment people, Bale grew to his largest ever weight on the silver screen.

The film even opens with a 10-minute scene of him fixing his hair piece. It's almost the exact opposite of the beginning to American Psycho where a perfectly quiffed Bale applies ice-packs and moisturisers to his face.

Featured Image Credit: Lionsgate Films

Topics: Christian Bale

Josh Teal
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