“Wait… that’s Christian Bale?” We’ve all said it before and two times over, because the 44-year-old actor has mastered an incredible transformation, oftentimes testing the limits of his body to do so. After Bale most recently packed on almost 50 pounds to portray former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in Adam McKay’s Vice, he realizes it’s no longer a healthy way to prepare for a role. In his words:
I can't keep doing it. I really can't. My mortality is staring me in the face.
Christian Bale recently admitted that it’s time to abandon his methods to The Sunday Times (via LADbible), especially since his The Dark Knight costar, Gary Oldman told him he hadn’t gained an ounce of weight in preparation for his Oscar winning role as Winston Churchill in 2017’s The Darkest Hour. But when Oldman told Bale, he was already 20 pounds into his weight gain. He said he felt like a bit of a “tit” after that, but decided to commit.
The actor famously pushed his body to extremes in the 2004 thriller The Machinist, when he took off 62 pounds to play insomniac Trevor Reznik. Christian Bale’s intense weight-loss negatively affected him both physically and emotionally. He also reportedly dropped so much weight that he stopped losing body fat and started losing elasticity in his muscles. Yikes!
Right after The Machinist, Christian Bale signed on for his most iconic role as Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, which meant he had to pack on the weight of a superhero in just six months. Bale gained 100 pounds to play Bruce Wayne by taking on a high-protein diet with heavy-core, plyometrics and resistance training. He actually gained too much, and Nolan had to ask him to drop 20 pounds.
Between his work as Batman, Christian Bale lost the weight again to play Micky Ward in David O. Russell’s The Fighter in 2010. After closing out the trilogy with 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, Christian Bale signed up for yet another unrecognizable transformation as a beer-bellied con-man to work with Russell again in American Hustle.
So it only took about 15 years for the actor to realize how unhealthy his transformation after transformation is, but his work never seems to go unrecognized each time he does it. With Vice, he recently took home a Golden Globe for Best Actor in the comedy category and was nominated for an Oscar, amidst the film’s seven other nods.
Christian Bale has said he finds it to be helpful to look in the mirror and not recognize himself when he takes on roles, hence the intense transformations. Thankfully he’s decided to move on from the insane acting measures for his own health in future roles. We don’t blame him and he certainly has much to give on screen without having to sacrifice his own well-being.