Born in Pembrokeshire, Wales in 1974, Christian Bale caught the eye of then Spielberg’s wife Amy Irving, who saw him in NBC mini-series Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna in 1986, and recommended him for the role of “Jamie” in Spielberg’s ‘Empire of the Sun’, which earned him a special award by the National Board of Review for Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor.
Bale survived the transition from a child star to an adult actor, accepting roles in Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Henry V’, Jane Campion’s ‘The Portrait of a Lady’, Todd Haynes’ ‘Velvet Goldmine’ and Gillian Armstrong’s ‘Little Women’.
But in the year 2000 he got the lead role Mary Harron’s ‘American Psycho’, based on the controversial novel by Bret Easton Ellis and he found his ticket to pop culture stardom, which would come with better offers and starring roles.
Soon, Bale would be known as a totally ‘immersive’ actor, going to the extreme of losing more than 60 pounds and looking alarmingly unhealthy for Brad Anderson’s dark indie ‘The Machinist’. From there on, he subjected his body to all sorts of changes: All muscled super hero for the Batman trilogy, ‘Terminator Salvation’ and Michael Mann’s ‘Public Enemy’, skinny guy for Werner Herzog’s ‘Rescue Dawn’, and his Oscar winning role in David O’ Russell’s ‘The Fighter’, the good and the bad guy in Terence Malick’s ‘The New World’, Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Prestige’ and James Mangold’s remake of ‘3:10 to Yuma’, and finally the overweight con man in ‘American Hustle’ also by O’Russell. To his mastery acting style, it is reported that co-star Robert De Niro di not recognize him when they were introduced on the set.
Because of his extreme immersion, Bale was involved in an incident in the set of ‘Terminator Salvation’ when the Director of Photography interrupted his concentration by walking onto the set during a scene. Bale was recorded directing profanities to the DP. Weeks later he was involved in a personal legal action that was eventually dropped.
His Oscar Nomination for ‘American Hustle’ confirms his status as an extraordinary actor, and his future projects for Todd Field, Ridley Scott and Terence Malick announce that he is not eager to stop anytime soon.
Here are some of his best performances in a long list of extraordinary characters and films.