Happy Birthday Christian Bale: 10 Times The Actor Transformed For A Movie Role

Actor Christian Bale’s portrayal as Batman introduced him into the homes of countless Indians. However, the English actor’s versatility spans much beyond his portrayal of the caped crusader.

Bale is well-known for undergoing drastic physical transformations in order to do justice to the roles he plays in films such as ‘Vice,’ ‘The Machinist,’ and ‘American Hustle.’ Bale, who was born in 1974, has won one Academy Award and two Golden Globes to date. Throughout his career, the actor has created a place for himself by playing characters that are opposed to one another.

From ‘American Psycho’ to ‘Vice’, here are 10 films in which Bale went through a drastic transformation.

‘The Machinist’

Perhaps the most well-known Christian Bale transition is his portrayal of a sleep-deprived factory worker in the 2004 film ‘The Machinist.’ Bale allegedly shed 25kgs in 4 months to play Trevor in the film. According to Harrison Cheung’s biography of Bale, the actor only ate “water, an apple, and one cup of coffee per day” to prepare for the part. The actor told Men’s Journal he also chain-smoked cigarettes and drank whiskey to lose weight.

‘Batman Begins’

Soon after finishing ‘The Machinist,’ Bale learned that he had gotten the title role in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Batman Begins.’ He finished ‘The Machinist’ in July of 2003 and had roughly a half-year to gain weight before playing Batman in February of 2004. For his role as billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Batman Begins,’ the actor began working out vigorously, packing on muscle to get into true superhero shape.

“I had a lot of work to do because Batman [is] one of those parts you have to be in decent shape for,” according to a report by Insider, Bale told Femme Fatales in 2006. “I ate like crazy, trying to put on pounds. I actually went way overboard. When I arrived in England, Chris Nolan looked at me in shock, saying, ‘God, you’re like some sort of grizzly bear!’ It was not a very healthy thing to do; I could lift a lot of weights, but you asked me to run across the room I’d be exhausted. So I started working out and doing a lot of running to bring my weight back down again.”

‘American psycho’

The film ‘American Psycho’ took some time to reach its audience. However, during the last two decades, the serial killer thriller has gone from being a box office flop to one of the biggest cult favourites of the 2000s and a career highlight for its actor, Christian Bale. This was the role that catapulted Bale from a promising young star to leading actor with a wide range. To portray deadly banker Patrick Bateman, he bulked considerably. Bale started eating just lean protein. “It was my most restrictive diet [for a film],” the actor told Train Magazine during a 2017 interview. “There were no cheat meals. No sugars, good fats, and low carbs.” Bale also stated getting lean for ‘Psycho’ was tougher than bulking up for ‘Batman Begins.’

‘Rescue dawn’

In Werner Herzog’s ‘Rescue Dawn,’ Bale plays pilot Dieter Dengler. The actor dropped weight before filming and filmed the film in reverse chronological order alongside Herzog, gaining the weight back over the shoot. During the Vietnam War, his character gets shot down and kidnapped by peasants. During the film’s release, Bale told Collider that he didn’t drop as much weight as it appeared and complimented the makeup artists for making him appear more gaunt.

‘The fighter’

Christian Bale played welterweight fighter turned lanky crack-cocaine junkie Dicky Eklund in this David O. Russell thriller. He adopted a different strategy than he did when he was a Machinist, reducing weight without obsessing too much on the scale and allowing the makeup crew do the rest. Bale’s wiry change was instrumental in earning him his first acting Oscar. The actor revealed to the Latino Review he relied mostly on running to lose the weight for the movie. “I was just running like crazy,” Bale said. “I could just run for hours on end and I felt really healthy.”

‘The big short’

A terrible haircut and a basic blue T-shirt were all it needed to transform Christian Bale into quirky hedge fund manager Michael Burry in Adam McKay’s 2015 historical dramedy ‘The Big Short,’ for which he received his third Oscar nomination. The job required him to undergo intensive drum lessons for three weeks, but according to Public Radio International, Bale hurt himself during preproduction. “[Bale] completely blew out his knee — ACL, MCL, patella, everything,” the film’s director, Adam McKay, told the tabloid. McKay proposed they hire a double because he was worried about his primary actor. But Bale, who is known for pushing his body to its limits, insisted on doing it himself.

‘American hustle’

Bale chopped his hair, grew out his facial hair, and gained 43 pounds to portray con artist Irving Rosenfeld in David O. Russell’s 1970s-set thriller, utilising the tried-and-true approach of eating whatever he wanted. For the part, the actor gained more than 200 pounds, telling People that his diet for two months consisted of “doughnuts, a whole lot of cheeseburgers, and whatever I could get my hands on.”


Christian Bale had to get in shape quickly after finishing ‘American Hustle’ to portray Moses in Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” Bale’s workout routine was broken down by Health Fitness Revolution in December 2014, with the actor relying on aerobic workouts like swimming and jogging, as well as power-lifting sports like “jump squats, power cleans, explosive bench press, and high pulls.”


Bale had to remove the weight he gained for Vice in order to play British racing car racer Ken Miles. However, as he recounted to Variety, he ended himself shedding even more weight “I had to get in the car. I could not bloody…–these things are not made for comfort, these cars. They’re tight. So, I couldn’t bloody get in them.” Bale’s co-star Matt Damon was astounded by his co-70-pound star’s weight reduction, but when Damon asked him how he accomplished it, he received a very simple answer: “He just looked at me and said ‘I didn’t eat.’ That guy is cut from a different cloth.”

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