Moviegoers know Christian Bale loves getting into character. From Batman to Patrick Bateman, Bale has proven himself a versatile actor who can immerse himself in any role - the more complex, the better.
But aside from the mental prep Bale uses to get into character, he has a long and storied history of transforming himself physically, and pushing himself to the limit, however challenging that may be. Audiences have watched in awe as he's slimmed down, bulked up, and donned wigs in record time. No role is too great a challenge for Bale, as he often defies expectations of the types he can play.
- Photo: Miramax Films
While Bale didn't undergo a head-to-toe transformation for 1998's Velvet Goldmine, it did show viewers a side of Bale they hadn't seen before.
Rocking long hair as Arthur Stuart, a journalist following a glam-rock star similar to David Bowie, Bale donned colorful and flamboyant costumes for the '70s era role - think leopard print and velvet galore.
- Photo: Lionsgate Films
The creepy yet fascinating American Psycho saw Bale in one of his biggest roles yet, playing the deranged Patrick Bateman. The part required what Bale called his "most restrictive" diet; he had to not only put on muscle mass, but also maintain the character's lean and svelte physique. As he put it, "There were no cheat meals. It was all lean protein. No sugars, good fats and low carbs."
As for the internal transformation? Bale didn't have to look too far to find inspiration. According to the film's director, Mary Harron, Bale based the character in part off of a Tom Cruise interview.
- Photo: Buena Vista Pictures
It may not have been as big of a hit as some of his other films, but Bale did his due diligence in hitting the gym once again for his role in Reign of Fire. Co-starring alongside Matthew McConaughey, Bale played a survivor slaying dragons in a post-apocalyptic world. He also sported a scruffier look.
In the film's big fight scene, Bale took a brutal (and real) headbutt from McConaughey.
Bale is nearly unrecognizable in The Machinist; he lost about 60 pounds (about a third of his weight) to play Trevor Reznik. Once again playing a character suffering from paranoia and delusions, Bale lost all that weight due to a simple misunderstanding in the script. In the film, Trevor writes his weight on the walls. The screenwriter, Scott Kosar, had written these in based off his own weight - but was only five foot six. Bale, six feet tall and never one to back down from a challenge, decided to reach that weight (121 lbs) rather than adjust for his height.
Bale described the weight loss as transformative: "It's an amazing experience doing that. When you're so skinny that you can hardly walk up a flight of stairs... you're, like, this being of pure thought. It's like you've abandoned your body."
But how did he do it? Bale says he "came up with the absolutely brilliant method of just smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey to lose weight."