Christian Bale: An Actual Chameleon

Viewers really love it when an actor goes full-bore into a character. Like really into it.

This means no fat suits, no CGI, just reality and what that conveys. Typically movie stars adhere to very strict diets and exercise to maintain a status quo in their appearance.

But what people really like is when this gets extreme (not healthy) and actors either put on loads of weight or take it off for a role.

In my mind there is no one who is better or more willing to do this than the great Christian Bale.

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He has bulked up, slimmed down, and paunched out for his jobs and it’s fantastic to watch. He really is the best at it if you ask me.

Sure there are others who have achieved extremes for a role but I don’t think anyone has done it as many times as Bale nor have been recognized by the Oscars for it.

So for my purposes today I’m going to talk about all the roles where Christian Bale has tested the limits of his body for a role.

American Psycho

For his role as serial killer Patrick Bateman, Bale bulked up, leaned out, and got fake teeth.

This film is quite interesting as you as the viewer only really see Bateman the way he sees himself. Which is a muscled up, handsome, and charismatic money man.

Christian Bale - American Psycho
“Aren’t I charming!”

While he didn’t bulk up to the level that he later would for other roles (Batman), he was looking to achieve what he dubbed the ‘Olympian physique’.

As the film is generally about a deranged person’s sense of vanity Bale had to look the part of an extreme narcissist and so that is what he did.

There’s even a scene where Bale admires his abdominals in the mirror while having sex with a prostitute. Pure unadulterated narcissism.

It was fairly early on in his career so the figures on how much weight he gained or lost for this role are not out there but he certainly owned the part.

It’s not until the end of the movie that we get the real version of Bateman and he is nothing like how he sees himself.

In fact, they don’t even use Bale for this part because they are supposed to be totally opposite.

The Machinist

I haven’t actually seen this movie but it’s definintely on my list.

Bale plays a machinist who is involved in a work place accident and is promptly fired and left to his own devices of delusion and paranoia.

I don’t know where he started with his weight going into this role but it’s been documented that he lost 60 pounds over four months, eating less than 300 calories a day.

His diet consisted of water, an apple, and one cup of coffee per day, with the occassional whiskey for good measure I guess.

I’d like to point out how incredibly unhealthy this must have been for him, but then again he was portraying someone who should not look healthy at all so whatever.

Christian Bale The Machinist
Just look how skeletal he is! No Bueno

Losing a tremendous amount of weight is no big deal if you straight up abandon healthy living but the reason why this weight loss was so tremendous is that Bale was going to have to reverse the tides big time for his next role: Batman.

Batman Begins

Okay so everyone knows that when Bale showed up for filming of Batman begins he was utterly jacked. So much so that he actually was asked by director Nolan to lose 20 pounds before shooting commenced.

From what I can find, it seems he just did what everyone does when they are trying to bulk up and that is eat a high protein diet with heavy resistance training.

In total he weighed in at more than a hundred pounds heavier than in The Machinist. Which was only shot the previous year.

Okay so hot take alert – nobody tests actors for steroids, in fact it is probably promoted since they might have to change their bodies quickly for what comes next.

And I’m kind of saying that might be the case here because a 100 pound swing in somebody’s weight during such a short time would require extra help.

Christian Bale as Batman in the Dark Night
You can’t tell here but Batman can do mega pushups

Whatever, I’m not here to judge.

Anyway, Batman was yolked and it was great to watch, super cool version of the caped cruisader.

Rescue Dawn

So right after gaining all that muscle Bale said fuck it and lost it again for his role as a downed fighter pilot during the Vietnam war.

I also haven’t seen this film so I can’t comment to directly on it but it was written and directed by Werner Herzog who usually makes dope shit.

You’d think gaining a hundred pounds would be enough for some people but Bale evidently wants to lose and gain, lose and gain, over and over until someone screams “please god damn it stop it already.”

Luckily no one is saying that yet, but I’m not sure how much more of this his body can take.

Christian Bale - Rescue Dawn
He’s not as skinny as the guy in the back, but still…

Batman: Dark Knight

And just like that he puts the muscle back on to play Batman once again.

I’m sure it’s easier for him to gain weight, since he has proven he can do it so well. And because he can actually eat when he’s bulking, but going slim and then back to muscular must be playing havoc on his systems.

The Dark Knight was an awesome movie however, and his performance as Bruce Wayne did not leave much to be desired.

The Fighter

After watching this movie I just felt bad for Mark Wahlberg, who thought he was the star of the movie. Little did he know that amazing method actor Christian Bale was on the scene to totally steal the show.

Bale’s role was to play a former boxer hooked on drugs and to do it he lost 30 pounds.

Christian Bale - The Fighter
Christian Bale playing drug addict Dickey was game changing for The Fighter, change my mind in the comments

Just another day in the life of Bale. Stretching out his body and being a chameleon ain’t no thang.

He ended up getting the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor because…like come on.

Oh well, poor Mark Wahlberg. *Side note* – Wahlberg did get some recognition for his part in The Departed so it’s not all boohoo for him.

Anyway, The Fighter is good, but without the inclusion of Christian Bale who knows if it would have made any waves at all.

The Dark Knight Rises

Surprise, surprise, Bale is jacked again. There’s not much I can say about this since every time he showed up to film a Batman movie he had clearly been eating and working out.

This movie is great as a final chapter on the caped cruisader trilogy. It offers everything that we needed as viewers. And somewhat we got closure on the character.

Which is why Bale refused to do another.

I will say that in comparison all other Batman’s are weak sauce. That is all.

American Hustle

For this film, Bale was going to have to get fat, and fat he got. He put on an estimated 43 pounds for the role. He even began slouching and ended up slipping a disk when the director told him to take it easy.

Christian Bale - American Hustle
What are you looking at my gut for?

Now I did watch this movie. But I can’t exactly remember what happened or why.

That’s not to say it was bad. In fact the film got many Oscar nominations (10 in total). It didn’t win a single one however, but you get the picture.

Being the first film where Bale gets to be fat was great. It further highlights what he is willing to do for the part and to his body.

But being a guy who works a lot the fatness could not have been forever, which would have been easier for him, but less enjoyable for us.

His next film would see him slim down back into ‘regular’ shape. Whatever regular shape means for a guy who can swing a 100 pounds in a year.

The Big Short

The only reason this film didn’t demand something extreme of Bale’s body is it was not a physical role.

He was playing a hedge fund manager who gets super rich by being smart about the housing bubble. He’s generally a weird guy and generally I thought this movie was kind of boring with little character development (with room for more).

Anyway, people really liked this movie and found it astounding!!

After all, Bale wasn’t the only mega star in its cast, this film was bound to be huge.

Hoopla and awards aside, this movie is about the driest financial subject matter so the fact they got people to like it is pretty impressive.

I’m not going to post a picture of Christian Bale in his part for this film, because it’s just a normal picture. Boring.


Again we get to see Christian Bale be fat. And it’s all the better that he’s playing one of the most hated men in all of American politics.

They could have got a larger bald man to play the part, but Bale wanted it, wanted it bad.

Evidently he put back on the 40 pounds he lost to be in the Big Short to play Dick Cheney and even spent his free time in make-up and costume to really get into the part.

Nobody asked him to do that, he just did it. That’s commitment!

I put this movie on my list for a long, long time ago and just have not followed through. So once again, I can’t comment on the film directly but…

It was nominated for 8 Oscars and won Best Make-up and Hairstyling.

That might sound like small banana’s but just look at the guy –

Christian Bale in Vice
Weapons of mass destruction!

Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt that Christian Bale is willing to put his body through the wringer for a role. But is it worth it?

Sure he’s been nominated a bunch but he’s only won an Oscar once. Which is definitely still a big deal it’s just taxing his body like this won’t hold up much longer.

Anyway, if I was him I’d probably try to get type cast as the shape I am most comfortable at.

Something tells me Vice won’t be the last time he stretches out his body for a job. I think he loves freaking out audiences with his appearance. We are all thinking, “what will he look like next?!”

It’s kind of like a train wreck, you can’t help but watch. Which might be why his movies do so well. He also happens to be a great actor so I can’t fault him there.

That is all folks, except….

If you are like Mr. Bale and are often very skinny or very large, I’d like to point out that if you shop our apparel sizes come in XS to XXL. So have at it, gain or lose some weight.

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