A Loving Tribute To Christian Bale's History Of Insane Movie Transformations
Over his multiple-decade career of critically acclaimed acting and periodically reminding people that he is, in fact, British, Christian Bale has also gained himself a reputation as Hollywood's undisputed king of transformations.
He's a man able to assume just about any role to fit it as historically accurately as possible, and over the years he's proven that no-one else is able to take their body from the brink of malnourishment to the point of morbid obesity or outright swoleness in such an incredible manner.
Now, following one of his most spectacular transformations yet (in which he gained almost 20kg to play the role of American politician Dick Cheney), Bale has finally announced that his days of fasting, gorging and intense training are essentially over.
Speaking to The Sunday Times Culture magazine, Bale said at the start of 2019. "I can't keep doing it. I really can't." He further mused that the various roles he's played have taken a toll on his body to the point where his "mortality is staring [him] in the face."
“I keep saying I’m done with it,” he later told CBS Sunday Morning in an interview. “I really think I’m done with it, yeah.”
In tribute then, we present a brief, loving timeline of the spectacular way Bale has forced his body to conform to all manner of roles, and the ways in which he pushed his body to the absolute limit while he did so.
2000 - American Psycho
Bale's first role was also one of his most memorable from a physical standpoint. Here Bale emerged into the world as shredded yuppie Patrick Bateman, who truly had the body of someone with the insane fitness regime detailed in the character's now-famous opening monologue.
Bale bulked up massively from his normal frame (think Velvet Goldmine) to play the role, adding a ton of lean mass and, knowing the actor's propensity for getting deep into his roles, getting to the stage where he probably could do 1000 stomach crunches whilst wearing an ice-pack to prevent eye puffiness.
2004 - The Machinist
The gaunt, puckered face, weird bird-like pose and skeletal frame of Christian Bales character in The Machinist has gone down as one of his most memorable turns on the silver screen. It also shows Bale at his most driven, as he shed over 60 from his every-day stature to play the insomniac industrial worker.
"I came up with the absolutely brilliant method of just smoking cigarettes and drinking whiskey to lose weight,” Bale told Star2.com.
2005 - Batman Begins
We imagine that 2005 was the most horrific year on a physical level in Bale's life. Straight off of filming The Machinist, he immediately begun production on Batman Begins. Bale's stint as Bruce Wayne required him to be at peak condition, and it's in this film (and the two Dark Knight films that followed), where Bale is at his most buff.
He's admittedly not quite as cut as he is in American Psycho, with his training obviously involving a ton of strength to help the now slightly older Bale pack on muscle quickly. Only six weeks stood between the end of filming on the machinist and the first screen tests for Batman, so Bale openly admitted he would gorge himself practically every day.
2006, 2010, 2014 - Rescue Dawn, The Fighter, Big Short
It's during this time when the wildly fluctuating nature nature of Bale's weight truly began to gain notoriety. For pretty much the next decade following first performance in Batman, Bale pinged from boasting the buff frame of Bruce Wayne to shedding weight extremely quickly for roles where he played more, well, normal human beings.
His performances as a POW and a crack-addicted fighter in Rescue Dawn and The Fighter respectively saw him at a particularly skinny version of himself, with his 6 ft 2 in frame and a good deal of make up helping to make the actor seem more gaunt than he actually was at the time.
Of course, he's not exactly skinny in The Big Short, but he's not going to be stopping any Jokers either. He was probably just happy to wear a normal suit for once.
2013 - American Hustle
All of this goes without saying that Bale piled on an absurd 43 pounds to play conman Irving Rosenfeld in American Hustle. His method? Eating whatever he wanted. "I ate lots of doughnuts, a whole lot of cheeseburgers, and whatever I could get my hands on," he once said.
However we're sure the joy was short-lived. He had to lose most of that once again before he stepped on camera in The Big Short.
2018 - Vice
The transformation that could go down as Bale's final dramatic weight gain, he made an incredible effort to take on the role of Dick Cheney in last year's political dramedy Vice. Once again Bale piled on over 40 pounds to play Cheney, but he also played Cheney at two different ages, a monumental achievement.
2019 - Ford vs. Ferrari
This year saw Bale return to something resembling a normal human figure for the first time since his role in The Big Short. But it was far from an easy process, as Matt Damon described the fat-shedding the actor underwent to get ready for the role of race driver Ken Miles after playing Dick Cheney. "I had a great time watching him," Damon said. "He's got [an] incredible monk-like discipline, like, when he went from Dick Cheney to this guy. So, he had to lose 70 pounds."