Over the last decade Christian Bale has become one of the most prominent and dedicated (not to mention controversial) actors of our generation. A modern method actor, Bale has transformed his entire physique for certain roles, and delved into his characters wholeheartedly on certain occasions, to the detriment of others.
He never gives anything less than 100% to a role and has delivered some of the finest performances in cinema over the last 10-15 years. With his recent elevation to super-stardom thanks to his role in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, College Times takes a look at some of his best performances on the big screen...
::: THE FIGHTER (2010) :::
Christian Bale plays a supporting role in this movie to Mark Wahlberg's Micky Ward. Bale plays the role of Ward's half-brother Dicky Ecklund, a former boxer who has turned to a life of drugs and crack dens, whilst still basking in his former life of "glory" as the golden boy of Lowell.
This performance was Bale at his method acting best, transforming his body from his muscular, beefed up Bruce Wayne (The Dark Knight saga) to a scrawny, drug-addicted Ecklund (he dropped a third of his body weight for the role). He admitted that he "became Dicky Ecklund", spending hours every week with the man himself, learning his accent and mannerisms so as to completely nail the character. An Oscar win for 'Best Supporting Actor' in 2011 for The Fighter would suggest he got it right. Click link for scenes from The Fighter
::: RESCUE DAWN (2006) :::
Dieter Dengler (Mr. Bale) is a U.S. fighter pilot during the Vietnam War who is imprisoned by Vietnamese soldiers in the middle of a jungle, joining five other mentally deranged U.S. soldiers in captivity. Bale leads the group in striving to survive and ultimately escape the harsh confines of their bamboo cell and homicidal captors.
Bale's performance is almost overshadowed by that of Steve Zahn's 'Duane' who acts as Bale's right-hand man. Bale's performance is the draw to this movie however with one of his most eccentric performances ever, almost convincing us that he actually lost his mind and became the paranoid, almost schizophrenic prisoner he portrays in the movie. An incredible 90% rating on RottenTomatoes.com suggests this is not just a great Bale performance, but a great movie overall and probably one most of you missed. Click the link for a cheeky scene!
::: BATMAN BEGINS (2005) ; THE DARK KNIGHT (2008); THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012) :::
Ok so this is three movies but Bale plays the same character in each movie, and it's difficult enough to pick out his best performance, when each movie compliments the other, so we'll save the hassle and lump them all together. As you already know, Bale plays billionaire Bruce Wayne, who subsequently dons the cape for become the vigilante crime fighter 'Batman'. Why? Well because his parents were murdered and his city is ridiculously corrupt and he can afford to more or less.
This performance sees Bale on the other end of the physique scale, piling on the muscle to become the bulky caped crusader. His performances in these movies are some of his more emotional and most definitely his most action-oriented, showing his diversity in his craft. He took the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman to a whole other level the likes of which Michael Keaton, Van Kilmer and certainly George Clooney never could have. Click here for Batman vs Bane fight scene!
::: AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000) :::
Bale plays Patrick Bateman, a wealthy New York banking executive with a rather interesting alter ego; he's a psychopathic, homicidal maniac. Throughout this movie Bateman finds it harder and harder to hide his psychopathic tendencies and sick fantasies from his co-workers as it becomes more and more apparent that he has little reason for his evil acts other than a growing hatred for the world he lives in.
This movie contains some iconic scenes one of which includes (on a couple of occasions) Patrick Bateman comparing business cards with his colleagues, getting more and more agitated as they display better versions of his own card. All the while Bale's Bateman narrates the entire movie, giving us a deeper understanding of how the mind of this psychopath works. It's yet another example of how well Bale convinces us of his performance and how much he gets into the character he plays. Let's assume not literally in this case! Here's that famous 'Business Card Scene'!
::: THE MACHINIST (2004) :::
The accompanying picture says it all. Bale lost 63lbs. to play the role of Trevor Reznik, a machinist working in a factory who struggles with extreme insomnia and paranoia. Without sleeping for a whole year, Reznik struggles with his well-being as he watched his body wither away. He confides only with his friend Stevie, a prostitute and is mistrusted and scorned by his co-worker who have watched him change so dramatically. After an almost fatal incident in work caused by Reznor, he begins to suspect his co-workers are out to get him, struggling to separate reality from his own paranoid imagination.
This movie more than any other displays Christian Bale's sheer dedication and willingness to sacrifice health for the benefit of his roles. Director of The Machinist Brad Anderson said that Bale wasn't even told to lose so much weight, insisting Bale wanted to against the advice of many. What's even more staggering is he immediately had to pack on the muscle to Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman Begins a year later. His performance in this movie isn't just physical however, as Bale is completely convincing as the paranoid insomniac Trent Reznik. Trailer of The Machinist!
Honourable Mention Time!
3:10 To Yuma
Empire of The Sun
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