Born: January 30, 1974 (age 42)
Height: 1.83m (6ft)
Known For: The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), American Hustle (2013), The Big Short (2015), The Fighter (2010), 3:10 to Yuma (2007), Terminator Salvation (2009), American Psycho (2000)
Upcoming Films: Song to Song (2017), Hostiles (2017), The Promise (2017), The Jungle Book 2 (2018)
Christian Bale was born in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire in Wales. Bale had three sisters. His mother is English and his father was born in South Africa, to English parents; Bale has remarked, “I was born in Wales but I’m not Welsh – I’m English”. He spent most of his childhood in Wales, Dorset, and Portugal. His performance as Jim Graham in Empire of the Sun (1987) earned him widespread critical praise and the first ever “Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor” award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. The attention the press and his schoolmates lavished upon him after this took a toll on Bale, and he contemplated giving up acting until Kenneth Branagh approached him and persuaded him to appear in Henry V in 1989. In 1990, he played the role of Jim Hawkins opposite Charlton Heston (as Long John Silver) in Treasure Island.
In 1999, Bale played serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, director Mary Harron‘s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis‘ controversial novel. Bale was briefly dropped from the project in favour of Leonardo DiCaprio, but DiCaprio eventually dropped out to star in The Beach, and Bale was cast once again.
From 2002 to 2003, Bale starred in three feature films, such as Laurel Canyon (2002), which was generally well received by critics. This film marked the second time he worked with actress Kate Beckinsale, his co-star in Prince of Jutland (1994). Critics generally focused on star Frances McDormand‘s performance over the rest of the cast, however. The post-apocalyptic action fantasy film Reign of Fire was Bale’s first action vehicle, and had compared to all his previous work, an immense budget estimated at US$95,000,000. Bale entered into negotiations about starring in the film with reservations, but director Rob Bowman convinced him to take the lead role. Bale played Quinn Abercromby with Matthew McConaughey‘s Denton Van Zan. They trained for their respective roles by boxing and working out.
Equilibrium was Bale’s third film of 2002, costing US$20 million to produce but earning just over US$5 million worldwide. In Equilibrium, Bale played John Preston, an elite law enforcer in a dystopian society. Equilibrium featured a fictional martial art called Gun Kata that combined gunfighting with hand-to-hand combat. According to moviebodycounts.com, the character of John Preston has the third most on-screen kills in a single movie ever with 118, exactly half of the movie’s total of 236.
After a year’s hiatus, Bale returned in 2004 to play Trevor Reznik, the title character in the psychological thriller The Machinist. Bale gained attention for his devotion to the role and for the lengths to which he went to achieve Reznik’s emaciated, skeletal appearance. He went without proper rest for prolonged periods, and placed himself on a crash diet of generally coffee and apples, which reduced his weight by 63 pounds (4 st 7 lb or 28.6 kg) in a matter of months. By the end of filming Bale weighed only 121 pounds (8 st 9 lb or 55 kg), a transformation he described as “very calming mentally” which drew comparisons to Robert De Niro’s alternate weight-gaining regimen for his role as Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film Raging Bull. Bale claimed that he had not worked for a period of time before he was cast in the film: “I just hadn’t found scripts that I’d really been interested in. So I was really dying for something to arrive. Then when this one did, I just didn’t want to put it down. I finished it and, upon the kind of revelation that you get at the end, I immediately wanted to go back and re-visit it, to take a look at what clues I could have gotten throughout”. The Machinist was a low-budget production, costing roughly US$5 million to produce, and was given only a limited US release. It was well received, with the review tallying website Rotten Tomatoes reporting that 77% of the critics’ reviews tallied were positive.
Bale, an admirer of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, was then cast as the voice of the title character, Howl in the English language dub of the Japanese director’s fantasy anime adventure Howl’s Moving Castle, an adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones’s children’s novel. Its gross in the US was US$4,711,096, a fraction of its worldwide gross (US$235,184,110).
Still fresh off The Machinist, it became necessary for Bale to bulk up to match Batman’s muscular physique. He was given a deadline of six months to do this. Bale recalled it had been far from a simple accomplishment: “when it actually came to building muscle, I was useless. I couldn’t do one push up the first day. All of the muscles were gone, so I had a real tough time rebuilding all of that.” With the help of a personal trainer, Bale succeeded in meeting the deadline, gaining a total of 100 lb (45 kg) in six months. He went from about 130 lbs to 230 lbs. He discovered that he had actually gained more weight than the director desired, and dropped his weight to 190 lbs by the time filming began.
For Bale, the most gruelling part about playing Batman was the suit. “You stick it on, you get hot, you sweat and you get a headache in the mask … But I’m not going to bitch about it because I get to play Batman”, he said.Bale trained in Wing Chun Kung Fu under Eric Oram in preperation for the movie. When promoting the film in interviews and public events, Bale retained an American accent to avoid confusion. Batman Begins was released in the U.S. on 15 June 2005 and was a U.S. and international triumph for Warner Bros., costing approximately US$135 million to produce and taking in over US$370 million in returns worldwide.
Bale reprised the role of Batman in the sequel The Dark Knight. He trained in the Keysi Fighting Method, and performed many of his own stunts. The Dark Knight was released in the U.S. on 18 July 2008 and stormed through the box office, with a record-breaking $158.4 million in the U.S. in its first weekend. It broke the $300 million barrier in 10 days, the $400 million mark in 18 days and the $500 million mark in 43 days, three new U.S. box office records set by the film. The film went on to gross over $1 billion at the box office worldwide, making it the fourth-highest-grossing movie worldwide ever at that time, before adjusting for inflation.
Bale reprised the role again for the second and final sequel, The Dark Knight Rises, released on 20 July 2012, which made Bale the longest-lasting actor to portray Batman on film to date. Following the shooting at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, he visited survivors in an Aurora, Colorado hospital. The film garnered further critical praise and financial achievement, earning more than $1 billion worldwide. Currently, the film is the tenth highest-grossing film worldwide unadjusted for inflation and the third highest-grossing film released in 2012, as well as the most financially successful movie in which Bale has starred.
Whilst being Batman from 2005-2012, he starred in independent films like The Prestige, an adaptation of the Christopher Priest novel about a rivalry between two Victorian stage magicians, Bale was reunited with Batman Begins‘ Sir Michael Caine and director Christopher Nolan. The cast of The Prestige also included Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Piper Perabo, and David Bowie.
Bale starred alongside Mark Wahlberg in David O. Russell’s 2010 drama film The Fighter. Bale’s portrayal of Dicky Eklund, for which he lost 30 pounds (14 kg), was universally acclaimed: he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and 30 other awards in 2011 for the performance. Near the end of his acceptance speech during the televised Golden Globes awards ceremony, Bale complimented Robert De Niro by saying he was “the shit”.
In 2013, Bale portrayed Russell Baze in Scott Cooper’s thriller Out of the Furnace, and starred in American Hustle, which reunited him with director David O. Russell, after their work on The Fighter. After losing 60 pounds (27 kg) for his role in The Machinist, Bale went to great lengths to play American Hustle‘s lead Irving Rosenfeld, a con man. He gained 43 pounds (20 kg), shaved his head to yield a realistic comb over, and affected a slouch shortening his height by 3 inches (7.6 cm), which resulted in a herniated disc. De Niro, who had a cameo role in the film, reportedly did not recognize him when they were introduced. Bale starred as Moses in Ridley Scott’s Biblical epic, Exodus: Gods and Kings, which was released on 12 December 2014.
Bale starred in Adam McKay‘s biopic The Big Short (2015), a film based on the book of same name by Michael Lewis about the financial crisis of 2007–08. In the film, Bale played Michael Burry, a neurologist-turned-hedge fund manager with Asperger syndrome and an ocular prosthesis.Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgenstern found his performance “scarily hilarious—or in one-liners and quick takes, deftly edited.” The film earned Bale nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Best Supporting Actor (The Fighter) – 2011
Nomination for Best Actor (American Hustle) – 2014
Nomination for Best Supporting Actor (The Big Short) – 2016
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (The Fighter) – 2011
Nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (American Hustle) – 2014
Nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (The Big Short) – 2016