Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Christian Bale – Part 1

Christian Bale_movie banner_1Christian Charles Philip Bale (born 30 January 1974) is an English actor. Best known for his roles in American films, Bale has starred in both big budget Hollywood films and the smaller projects from independent producers and art houses.

Christian_BaleBale first caught the public eye at the age of 13, when he was cast in the starring role of Steven Spielberg’s film version of the J. G. Ballard novel Empire of the Sun (1987). He played an English boy who is separated from his parents and subsequently finds himself lost in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.

The attention the press and his schoolmates lavished upon him after this took a toll on Bale, and he contemplated giving up acting until Kenneth Branagh approached him and persuaded him to appear in Henry V in 1989. In 1990, he played the role of Jim Hawkins opposite Charlton Heston (as Long John Silver) in Treasure Island, an adaptation of the classic book by Robert Louis Stephenson.

Bale was recommended by actress Winona Ryder to star in Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 film Little Women; he provided the voice for Thomas, a young compatriot of Captain John Smith, in Disney’s Pocahontas (1995) and in 1997 played Arthur Stuart in Velvet Goldmone, Todd Hayne’s tribute to 70’s glam rock.

Empire of the Sun_Christian Bale_Steven SpielbergIn 1999, Bale played serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, director Mary Harron’s adaptation of the controversial novel by Bret Easton Ellis. Bale was briefly dropped from the project in favour of Leonardo DiCaprio, but DiCaprio eventually dropped out to star in The Beach, and Bale was cast once again. He researched his character by studying the novel and prepared himself physically for the role by spending months tanning and exercising in order to achieve the “Olympian physique” of the character as described in the original novel. He went so far as to distance himself from the cast and crew to maintain the darker side of Bateman’s character. American Psycho premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival to much controversy. Roger Ebert condemned the film at first, calling it pornography, and “the most loathed film at Sundance,” but gave it a favourable review, writing that Harron “transformed a novel about bloodlust into a movie about men’s vanity.” Of Bale’s performance, he wrote, “Christian Bale is 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.”

christian_bale_american_psychoOn 14 April 2000, Lions Gate Films released American Psycho in theatres. Bale was later approached to make a cameo appearance in another Bret Easton Ellis adaptation, The Rules of Attraction, a film loosely connected to American Psycho, but he declined out of loyalty to Harron’s vision of Bateman, which he felt could not be properly expressed by anyone else. In 2000, he again played a wealthy murderer, this time in John Singleton’s remake of Shaft. 

Equilibrium was Bale’s third film of 2002, costing US$20 million to produce but earning just over US$5 million worldwide. In Equilibrium, Bale played John Preston, an elite law enforcer in a dystopian society. Equilibrium featured a fictional martial art called Gun Kata that combined gunfighting with hand-to-hand combat. According to moviebodycounts.com, the character of John Preston has the third most on-screen kills in a single movie ever with 118, exactly half of the movie’s total of 236.

Christian Bale_American PsychoAfter a year’s hiatus, Bale returned in 2004 to play Trevor Reznik, the title character in the psychological thriller The Machinist. Bale gained attention for his devotion to the role and for the lengths to which he went to achieve Reznik’s emaciated, skeletal appearance. He went without proper rest for prolonged periods, and placed himself on a crash diet of generally coffee and apples, which reduced his weight by 63 pounds (4 st 4 lb/27 kg) in a matter of months. By the end of filming Bale weighed only 121 pounds (8 st 9 lb/55 kg), a transformation he described as “very calming mentally” and which drew comparisons to Robert De Niro’s weight-gaining for his role as Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film Raging Bull. Bale claimed that he had not worked for a period of time before he was cast in the film. ” I just hadn’t found scripts that I’d really been interested in. So I was really dying for something to arrive. Then when this one did, I just didn’t want to put it down. I finished it and, upon the kind of revelation that you get at the end, I immediately wanted to go back and re-visit it, to take a look at what clues I could have gotten throughout”. The Machinist was a low-budget production, costing roughly US$5 million to produce, and was given only a limited US release.

Bale, an admirer of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, was then cast as the voice of the title character, Howl, in the English language dud of the Japanese director’s fantasy anime adventure Howls’ Moving Castle, an adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones’ novel. Its gross in the US was US$4,711,096, a fraction of its worldwide gross (US$235,184,110).

2 responses

  1. Pingback: American Psycho – The TV Series | socialpsychol

  2. Pingback: American Psycho on Broadway! | socialpsychol

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