Christian Bale is a chameleon, like most actors are, but he’s the consummate one. He becomes the person he portrays on screen and he goes to great lengths to portray the characters that he brings to life from the script pages.
He lost 63 pounds on a coffee-and-apple-only diet to portray the emaciated machinist Trevor Reznik in the psychological thriller, The Machinist. As boxer Dick “Dicky” Eklund in the David O. Russell-helmed film The Fighter, he lost 30 pounds. For that role the Welsh native won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.
To portray con man Irving Rosenfeld in American Hustle, the former child actor gained 43 pounds, shaved his head in order to get a realistic comb over and walked in such a realistically slouched posture that he herniated a disc.
The English actor, who turns 42 on January 30, bulked up and worked with a personal trainer when he portrayed Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) in the Christopher Nolan films Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises for which he gained both commercial recognition and critical acclaim.
At 12 years old, Bale began his journey as an actor when he landed the role of Jamie “Jim” Graham, a British upper middle class schoolboy in Shanghai who becomes a prisoner of war during World War II, in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun. He received the first ever Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.
Bale is the son of a circus performer, Jenny James, and a talent manager-commercial pilot-entrepreneur, David Bale, who was previously married to feminist author Gloria Steinem. Bale is married to former model-make-up artist and personal assistant to Winona Ryder, Sandra “Sibi” Blazic with whom he has two children (daughter Emmaline and son Joseph). The actor told the HFPA that his best investment was “marrying my wife. I tell you, I would be broke without her. Absolutely, I would be broke and I have got no business sense whatsoever but she does. That was the best investment I ever made, and a dirt bike. That was a good investment, in terms of just joy.”
This year, Bale is nominated for the Golden Globe Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy for his portrayal of American hedge fund manager Michael Burry in the biographical comedy-drama The Big Short.
Bale shared his impressions when he met Burry: “We talked for hours in San Jose (California). It was a fantastic conversation – charming, entertaining, illuminating and an awful lot going right over my head because he’s a math genius. He feels immensely about the situation, the market and how he is stacked against every man. He is unique and inspiring.”
The versatile actor will be seen next in the Terry George drama The Promise (set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire), where he portrays Chris, a renowned American journalist based in Paris. In Andy Serkis’ directorial debut Jungle Book: Origins, which is based on the Rudyard Kipling novel, The Jungle Book, Bale will provide the voice of Bagheera.
Janet R. Nepales