Christian Charles Philip Bale (born 30 January 1974) is an actor born in Wales, of English extraction, and a naturalized citizen of the USA since 2014.
Bale is a former child star turned very versatile leading man, with a reputation for taking any role that challenged him. While his most famous role prior to the Batman films was his performance as Patrick Bateman in the film adaptation of American Psycho, he's also known for being willing to radically transform his body for a role. He lost 63 pounds for The Machinist, immediately gained it back and then some (100) to play everyone's favorite masked vigilante in Batman Begins, then went skeletal again to star in Rescue Dawn, then gained it back for The Dark Knight, then went skeletal again to star in The Fighter. And then made The Dark Knight Rises. And then put on 43 pounds to play an overweight man in American Hustle. Most recently, he's put on even more weight to play former US Vice-President Dick Cheney in Vice with terrifying accuracy.
If you ever needed someone to play both Laurel and Hardy in the same movie, this is the actor you'd turn to.
Case in point: he was cast as President George W. Bush in W. in 2008 (though he dropped out in pre-production), and went on to play Vice President Dick Cheney in Vice a decade later. That's right—Bale very nearly played both of these guys◊.
Although he likes to keep details of his personal life away from the public eye, he's not immune to some controversy. In 2008, he was charged for verbal assault on his mother and sister, but he denied the allegations and the charges were dropped on the grounds of lack of evidence. On February 2009, an audio recording of Christian's lengthy tirade on the set of Terminator Salvation, in which he verbally assaulted Director of Photography Shane Hurlburt for wandering about during the shooting of a pivotal scene one time too many, was leaked online. Following the leak, Christian issued a public apology, saying that his actions were "inexcusable" and that he "acted like a punk"; prior to the leak, Christian and Hurlburt talked out their problems almost immediately after the rant.
- Jim Graham, Empire of the Sun (1987)
- Jum Jum, Mio in the Land of Faraway (1987)
- Boy, Henry V (1989)
- Jim Hawkins, Treasure Island, (1990)
- Jack Kelly, Newsies (1992, though apparently he'd rather forget about it...)
- Thomas Berger Swing Kids (1993)
- Laurie, Little Women (1994)
- Thomas, Pocahontas (1995)
- Arthur Stuart, Velvet Goldmine (1998)
- Jesus, Mary Mother of Jesus (1999)
- Walter Wade Jr., Shaft (2000)
- Patrick Bateman, American Psycho (2000)
- Quinn, Reign of Fire (2002)
- John Preston, Equilibrium (2002)
- Howl, Howl's Moving Castle (Originally released in Japan in 2004, 2005 English Dub)
- Trevor Reznik, The Machinist (2004)
- John Rolfe, The New World (2005) (the 2nd film about Pocahontas he's appeared in!)
- Bruce Wayne/Batman, The Dark Knight Trilogy
- Alfred Borden, The Prestige (2006)
- Jim Luther Davis, Harsh Times (2006)
- Dieter Dengler, Rescue Dawn (2007)
- Jack Rollins/Pastor John, I'm Not There (2007)
- Dan Evans, 3:10 to Yuma (2007) (2007)
- John Connor, Terminator Salvation (2009)
- Melvin Purvis, Public Enemies (2009)
- Dick Eklund, The Fighter (2010) (for which he won an Academy Award)
- John Miller, Flowers of War (2011)
- Russell Baze, Out of the Furnace (2013)
- Irving Rosenfield, American Hustle (2013)
- Moses, Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
- Rick, Knight Of Cups (2015)
- Michael Burry, The Big Short (2015)
- Christopher "Chris" Myers, The Promise (2016)
- Capt. Joseph J. Blocker, Hostiles (2017)
- Dick Cheney, Vice (2018)
- Bagheera, Mowgli (2018)
- Ken Miles, Ford V Ferrari (2019)
- Gorr the God Butcher, Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)
(Yes he has, in fact, played Jesus, Moses and Batman).
Tropes invoked by this actor include:
- Action Hero: As John Connor and Batman.
- Anti-Hero: Most of his characters. They're heroes but still very flawed people.
- Awesome, Dear Boy: He agreed to play Batman for this very reason.
- Badass Beard: He often has one, both for roles and in real life.
- Creator Backlash: He wasn't happy with how Terminator Salvation turned out.
- Doing It for the Art: He turned down $50 million when he was offered to reprise his role as Batman for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He already explained that The Dark Knight Rises is his last Batman movie and that he's sticking to Christopher Nolan's vision in keeping the Nolanverse closed.Bale: We were incredibly fortunate to get to make three [Batman films]. Thats enough. Lets not get greedy.
- Dyeing for Your Art: Practically synonymous with this trope, as he frequently gains and drops weight and muscle for the sake of his roles.
- Fake American: Christian usually puts on an American accent if the role calls for it and keeps it while filming and advertising. This is present for both his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman in The Dark Knight Trilogy, and with a Midwestern accent in Public Enemies. He didn't drop it during the infamous rant, but towards the end, he has a few Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping moments. Hilariously, he startled the entire crew by reverting to his natural accent as soon as the final scene of The Machinist was shot. Ben Affleck claims he didn't know Christian was British until right after he was cast in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and bumped into him in LA. It can be very jarring, if you've gotten used to him playing Americans, to see him in something like The Prestige where he speaks in a very heavy English accent.
- Played with in his role as UK-born American racer Ken Miles: Miles migrated with his family from Birmingham to California, USA, keeping his signature "Brummie" accent; Bale manages to keep Miles' Brummie accent, despite being from Wales.
- Former Child Star: Averted as he's been far more successful as an adult.
- Frozen Face: Christian is capable of unusually intense stares and untwitching facial expressions, which made his role in Equilibrium all the more awesome.
- Ink-Suit Actor: As Thomas in Pocahontas, the animators sketched his face while he was recording his lines.
- Large Ham: A few of his few roles.
- Method Acting: So much so that he keeps his character's accent beyond production and into promotional appearances. He claims that he puts that much work into his roles because he actually has a hard time staying in character and would be constantly holding up production with his corpsing if he didn't focus.
- Mr. Fanservice: When he's in great shape, directors often give him shirtless scenes to show it off.
- Old Retainer: Harrison Cheung was his assistant from the days when he was a child actor, before parting ways with him and writing a tell-all of Bale. One particularly interesting piece is that according to him, it was Harrison that brought up the idea of auditioning for Batman Begins, Bale did not grow up reading comics and was barely familiar with the character.
- Old Shame: He's still embarrassed by Newsies but he does show some appreciation for the film's cult audience, and even wished the Broadway cast good luck with the show when it first opened.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Averted. He even will keep using whatever accent used in the film even during promotional work.
- His accent in Exodus: Gods and Kings makes many many trips across the Atlantic Ocean throughout the film. Even during the course of a single sentence.
- During his massive rant, he does slip back into his natural accent but keeps up the American accent through most of it.
- Production Posse: Previously with Todd Haynes (Velvet Goldmine and I'm Not There), more recently with Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy and The Prestige) and David O. Russell (The Fighter and American Hustle), James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma (2007) and Ford V Ferrari), Terrence Malick (The New World and Knight of Cups) and Adam McKay (The Big Short and Vice).
- Shirtless Scene: In Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises, Equilibrium, American Psycho, and The Machinist. Though the last one falls under Fan Disservice.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: He's got quite a foul mouth in real life.
- Star-Making Role: Empire of the Sun got him some attention, and American Psycho helped him transition from child star to adult actor. But he didn't become a real A-lister until Batman Begins came along.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: He stands 6 feet tall.
- What Could Have Been:
- He was originally supposed to play George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's W., but he dropped out at the last minute due to a fear that he wouldn't be able to accurately play the part (quite funnily, he's played Bush's VP, Dick Cheney, in Vice).
- He was originally set to play the lead in To the Wonder which would have reunited him with Terrence Malick but he had to drop out and Ben Affleck (his successor as Batman) replaced him.