He was thirteen when Steven Spielberg chose him from among four thousand candidates for the lead role in the war drama Empire of the Sun. Since then, he has been gradually climbing the ladder of his Hollywood career. He starred in dozens of films that grossed over $6 billion in total. He collaborated with cinema giants as Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Michael Mann and Terrence Malick. His credits include, among others: An Oscar, two Golden Globes and four Critics Choice Awards. He enjoys a well-deserved reputation as one of the most talented actors of his generation, as well as a screen chameleon who is not afraid of any challenge. Today Christian Bale celebrates his 50th birthday, and on this occasion we have chosen his five best roles.
Christian Bale’s Best Role.
American Psycho (2000)
Christian Bale was reportedly inspired by Tom Cruise when playing Patrick Bateman. Bale rightly observed that a star’s intense enthusiasm – when turned up slightly – can become intensely ghastly: as funny as it is terrifying. It fits like a glove, because “American Psycho” is a predatory satire on yuppie culture. Director Mary Harron adapted Bret Easton Ellis’ novel into a film, showing that the corporate façade of being “cool” hides a brutal rat race. Bateman’s performance is downright murderous. Bale brilliantly balanced the grotesqueness of his character with a believable portrayal of a man lost in his own fears and fantasies. And he gave us a number of unforgettable scenes: a morning bathroom ritual, a business card duel and a lecture about the band Huey Lewis and the News leading to an ax being buried in Jared Leto’s head (interesting fact: the future Batman kills the future Joker here).
The Machinist (2004)
The less of you, the more – one wants to paraphrase the words of Natalia Kukulska’s hit and sing the praises of Christian Bale’s role in “The Mechanic” . To play Trevor Reznik, a man with the appearance of the living dead, the actor went on a killer diet: a can of tuna and an apple a day for four months. It paid off. “The Mechanic” proves that an actor’s dedication can elevate a film above mediocrity. Reznik suffers from chronic insomnia and wakefulness is confused with dreams, but Bale effectively “grounds” this nightmare atmosphere: his corporeality is a painful touch of reality. “The Mechanic” looks like a madman’s dream, but Bale is absolutely real here. This is the kind of role without which there would be no film.
Batman Begins (2005)
The Batman we needed and didn’t deserve. From the perspective of the distant future, it is difficult not to evaluate Christopher Nolan’s comic book trilogy through the prism of fantastic villains – from the brilliant Cillian Murphy as the Scarecrow, through the outstanding Joker as played by Heath Ledger, to the underrated Bane, i.e. Tom Hardy. Each of them overshadowed the Dark Knight to some extent, but perhaps that’s why Christian Bale in Batman Begins is fantastic to watch today . It’s a much better role than we thought – full of focus, with a wide emotional scale, based on impressive physicality, but also requiring great sensitivity.
The Fighter (2010)
First of all, it’s a role that requires a huge physical transformation – maybe not as absurd as in “The Machinist“, but still. Secondly, he is a typical supporting “thief” of screen magic. Thirdly, when playing for David O. Russell, there is probably no other way. Bale completed all his tasks with flying colors, and thanks to precise direction and great writing, neither his emaciated body nor flashy monologues distract from the essence of the film. It is a story about a guy lost and immersed in the past who still has something to gain in life. A well-deserved Oscar.
With his role in “Vice“, Christian Bale once again confirmed that he is the king of on-screen metamorphoses. To look like Dick Cheney, our birthday boy gained 18 kilograms, shaved his hair, bleached his eyebrows and spent several hours every day in a make-up specialist’s chair. The incredible physical transformation is combined with top-class acting in the film. The most influential vice president in US history, as interpreted by Bale, is a cynical populist, a cunning political player, but also a responsible husband and a caring father of two daughters. A funny and scary character symbolizing the crisis of democratic values.
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