Actor Spotlight: Christian Bale
From a self-obsessed, homicidal yuppie to the vengeful Dark Knight detective, a lonely child in a war prison camp to a drug-addicted ex-boxer, Christian Bale’s career is filled with roles that test the limits of an actor’s abilities. Considered one of the most talented actors of his generation, Bale often delves deep into the characters he plays.
For the 2004 film The Machinist, Bale dropped an alarming 60 pounds to portray a man suffering from severe insomnia. Immediately following that dark, psychological thriller, Bale quickly gained back 100 pounds to be in fighting shape to take on the role of the caped crime fighter in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. He has since taken his body to physical extremes of weight loss and gain in other, more recent roles.
Here, Ed from our Movie Guide Team takes a look at some of his favorite Bale performances.
A Self-Obsessed Killer
In the cult hit American Psycho, based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, Bale plays Patrick Bateman, a 1980s yuppie obsessed with the superficial reality of his Wall Street colleagues. He spends his spare time murdering women and professing an affinity for serial killers and pop music. In this amazing performance, Bale plays crazy so well that you’re both amused by and terrified of him. While the film itself polarized audiences, Bale’s performance gained him accolades across the board. Roger Ebert praised him as being “heroic in the way he allows the character to leap joyfully into despicability; there is no instinct for self-preservation here, and that is one mark of a good actor” – Chicago Sun-Times.[clear]
A Brooding Hero
Christian Bale’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne in the Christopher Nolan blockbusters brings a raw, emotional quality to the man behind the Batman mask. Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises see him struggling to overcome adversity, forcing him to make decisions that affect his standing with the citizens and police force of Gotham City. In his embodiment of the classic comic book character, Bale brings seriousness to the costumed hero while delivering a seamless performance as the seemingly naïve billionaire philanthropist.[clear]
An Imprisoned Adolescent
For a film that showcases the talents of a gifted child actor, check out Empire of the Sun. Directed by Steven Spielberg, a young Bale plays a wealthy British boy living with his family in 1937 Shanghai. He becomes separated from his parents after the Japanese army occupies the city and forces people into internment camps. Here, Bale’s powerful display of emotions offers an early glimpse at the talent that we see today. The film earned a handful of Academy Award nominations and won Bale the 1989 Young Artist Award.[clear]
Other recommended performances by Christian Bale available for download in the Kaleidescape Store: