Christian Bale: His Five Greatest Physical Transformations

From The Machinist to The Dark Knight Rises, there is no stopping him.

Christian Bale as a movie psychopathImage Picture Lionsgate

No one can deny Christian Bale is an actor dedicated to his craft. But his devotion usually goes beyond getting mentally ready for a role. In fact, more often than not, he also puts his whole being into it. Literally.

In the current panorama, there is no actor who alters his body as much as Bale for a role – he even pips fellow shape-shifter Matthew McConaughey to the post. Bale has given it all for almost every film he has made, so here at loaded we want to celebrate his commitment to his work with five of his most radical physical transformations.


American Psycho (2000)

This one doesn’t seem like much when we compare it to other roles Bale has played, but the actor definitely went through an intensive training to achieve Patrick Bateman’s perfectly muscled body, which distanced him from the roles he had played so far in his teenage years and made him officially an “adult.”

Bale spent several hours every day in the gym, and brought an on-set trainer with whom he’d spend three hours every day training as well. So there is a high chance Bale didn’t have time to sleep.



The Machinist (2004)

No role has required as much sacrifice from Bale as this one. The actor ended up weighing only 55kg (120lbs) and could barely run, as he had no muscles left in his body.

The only food he allowed himself to eat was a can of tuna and an apple per day, and he took up smoking to help with the hunger. Inexplicably, shortly after filming The Machinist he was ready to play Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. Bale’s weight loss here is considered to be a record for any film actor.



Rescue Dawn (2006)

And right after buffing up for Batman Begins, Bale dropped down again to 61kg (134lbs) to play a US Navy pilot captured during the Vietnam War.

Bale not only ate real worms for the film, he lost so much weight that the director Werner Herzog decided to film the movie in reverse order so that the final scenes where Bale’s character looks the most famished were shot first, and Bale could star gaining weight to film the scenes from the beginning of the movie at the very end of the shooting.



The Fighter (2010)

It took a while, but Bale finally got an Oscar for his portrayal of Dicky Eklund in David O. Russell’s multi-award-winning film.

Bale, besides having a gift for doing any type of accent, lost weight after spending time with the real Eklund, so that he could portray properly the fact that Eklund was a crack addict who ate very little. Mission accomplished.



American Hustle (2013)

But if the preparation for the other roles was excruciating for Bale, his next collaboration with O. Russell was surely a bed of roses. Well, not so much, because he put on so much weight (19kg/20lbs) with a diet that consisted mostly of cheeseburgers that he ended up herniating two disks.

And not happy with just that, he shaved off the top of his head to look like a balding man with a comb-over.

Whatever role is coming up for Bale next, we just can’t wait to see what physical transformation he’ll delight us with!

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