Christian Bale Then and Now: The Great “Chameleon” on the Screen

Not only being famous for the “Batman” series, Christian Bale then and now also made his fans admired when he had the ability to gain and lose huge weights for his roles.

Shining from 13 years old

Fews of filmaholics could forget how the English boy, Jamie Graham, in the movie Empire of the Sun struggled to survive World War II. It was the work of legendary director Steven Spielberg. The little actor playing the boy Graham was Christian Bale.

At the age of 13, the boy born in Wales had touched the hearts of the audience with emotional acting. The movie received 6 Oscar nominations in 1988 and made Bale famous. But that reputation almost killed a talent. Bale later admitted: “Things are terrible. I cried for most of the interviews and always ran away from every press conference. I even pretended that I wanted to go to the toilet and never wanted to come back.” That was also the reason that Bale later hated interviews.

The person bringing him back to the acting path was Sir Kenneth Branagh, a famous name in British arts. He persuaded Bale to join the movie Henry V (1989). He hoped the boy Bale could regain his passion for acting. During the next decade, Bale participated in independent plays and movies, before shining as the crazy killer Patrick Bateman in the controversial movie American Psycho.

Adapted from the book with the same name and released in 2000, American Psycho revolved around Bateman, a man with a wealthy background and a perfect business. But behind it was the sick soul of a serial killer. Initially, the role was targeted for Leonardo DiCaprio before the Titanic star abandoned the project to join The Beach and left Bateman for Bale. Realizing that this was an opportunity to shine, Bale worked hard to have a perfect muscular body as described in the novel. He also practiced a series of morning routines similar to Bateman.

With $7 million in investment, American Psycho grossed more than $34 million. However, it was controversial because of the content as well as gore scenes. But one thing couldn’t deny that Christian Bale’s acting was so excellent. 

Prominent name of modern Method Acting

In 2004, he shocked movie fans when appearing with the appearance of a skeleton in The Machinist. He lost nearly 30 kg in order to portray a mechanic possessing a secret that caused him to suffer from chronic insomnia.

Method Acting is a phrase that refers to an acting method that emphasizes authenticity. In which, actors really think and merged their emotions with the characters. The typical representatives of Method Acting in Hollywood included Marlon Brando, Al Pacino or Robert De Niro. Christian Bale was the prominent name of the current generation of actors.

Losing weight to play The Machinist was a good example. Although it affected his health and required a regular doctor to supervise Bale, he decided to do it. Also, as an English actor, every time he gave an interview in the US, he always used the American accent just like his character in the movie.

The sacrifice in The Machinist was impressive, but it was not the only time in the career that Bale surprised everyone. Only a year later, Bale had a more muscular body than when he played American Psycho to play new Batman on the big screen in the movie Batman Begins.

This project was a gamble by Warner Bros. At that time, long after the movie Batman & Robin (1997) failed miserably in both art and revenue, the first episode in the new Batman franchise starring Christian Bale was a huge success. It gave producers confidence to carry out the next episode The Dark Knight (2008).

The next part was even more successful than the previous one with more than one billion dollars in revenue. It is still considered the best superhero movie of all time. Darker, thornier, and more dramatic, The Dark Knight became a masterpiece thanks to the intense and compelling confrontation between Batman and The Joker. To close the series of “shadow knights”, Bale continued taking on this hero in the blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises (2012). It was equally successful in terms of revenue.

Not only a hero on the screen, but Bale also made everyone admire when after the shooting at the cinema in Aurora (USA) on the night of The Dark Knight Rises, he went to the hospital to visit and encourage the injured victim.

Among the three Batman episodes within 7 years, there were two more times Bale lose dozens of kilograms to serve for the projects Rescue Dawn (2006) and The Fighter (2010). In The Fighter, he played Dicky Eklund, a boxer who was once potential but later went downhill and became an addict.

To look like an addict, Bale weighed down to 66kg and looked like a dead body when standing next to muscular Mark Wahlberg’s younger brother. With sacrifice and touching acting skills, Bale received both Golden Globe and Oscar for “The Best Supporting Actor”.

“American Hustle” and a second Oscar nomination

In 2013, the name Christian Bale once again caused a stir when images of the movie American Hustle were released. Just a year ago, Bale was full of muscle in the image of Bruce Wayne, then he was absolutely obese! It was too difficult for him to button his shirt. Bale decided to increase 18kg for the image of Irving Rosenfeld, a crook based on the Mel Weinberg character prototype in the late 1970s.

The condition that Bale set for the director was that he must allow Bale to gain weights, otherwise, he will give up this project. After receiving a nod of agreement, Bale spent two months quitting exercises and only eating fast food. As a result, he gained weight as his expectation but damaged the spinal discs. He was so successful that when Robert De Niro first saw Bale in the studio, the legend didn’t recognize the famous actor Christian Bale and forced director David O. Russell to reintroduce him.

On the screen, Bale had good cooperation with co-stars Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, and Bradley Cooper for American Hustle. Therefore, the recognition of them was the title of “Outstanding cast” at the SAG awards ceremony.
Bale himself also paid off for his efforts to change his appearance with an Oscar nomination for “Best Actor”. He may not be a perfect person (he used to go crazy at the studio of Terminator: Salvation when he was bothered). But in terms of movies, it’s hard to fault a dedicated actor who always dedicates himself for the role.
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