Christian Charles Philip Bale born in 30 January 1974 is an English actor. In addition to starring in big budget Hollywood films, he has played in films produced by independent producers and art houses.
Bale first caught the public eye at the age of 13, when he was cast in the starring role of Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun. He played an English boy who is separated from his parents and subsequently finds himself lost in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. He has received critical acclaim for his performance in The Fighter, earning him several awards including the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He is also known for portraying Bruce Wayne in the Batman films Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, as well as yuppie serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.
Bale was born in Wales to parents of English descent. His father, David Bale, was an entrepreneur, commercial pilot, and talent manager, and his mother, Jenny James, was a circus clown and performer. He is the youngest of four children. After leaving Britain in 1976, Bale spent his childhood in several countries, including Portugal and the United States.
Settling for four years in Bournemouth and Henley-on-Thames, Bale was educated at Shiplake Church of England Primary School; the independent Dolphin School, Berkshire; and at Bournemouth School. He played rugby. Bale has described his childhood, with respect to his mother being in the circus, as "interesting." He recalled his first kiss was with an acrobat named Barta.
As a child, he trained in ballet and guitar. His sister Louise's work in theatre also influenced his decision to become an actor. Bale's father was very supportive of his son's acting, resigning from his job as a commercial pilot to travel and manage Bale's burgeoning career. The elder Bale later married feminist icon Gloria Steinem, He passed away, at age 62, on 30 December 2003 from brain lymphoma.
Bale's first foray into acting was a commercial for the fabric softener Lenor in 1982, when he was 8 years old. A year later, he appeared in a Pac-Man cereal commercial playing a child rock star. In 1984, he made his stage debut in The Nerd opposite Rowan Atkinson.
Bale debuted as Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich of Russia in the made-for-television film Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna in 1986, which was followed by leading roles in the miniseries Heart of the Country and the fantasy adventure Mio in the Land of Faraway, in which he appeared with Christopher Lee and Nick Pickard.
In 1987, Amy Irving, his co-star in Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, recommended Bale to her then-husband, Steven Spielberg, for a role in Empire of the Sun, adapted from the J.G. Ballard semi-autobiography. Bale's performance as Jim Graham earned him widespread critical praise and the first ever "Best Performance by a Juvenile Actor" award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. The attention the press and his schoolmates lavished upon him after this, took a toll on Bale, and he contemplated giving up acting until Kenneth Branagh approached him and persuaded him to appear in Henry V in 1989. In 1990, he played the role of Jim Hawkins opposite Charlton Heston (as Long John Silver) in Treasure Island, an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic book.
In 1992, Bale starred as Jack Kelly in the Disney musical Newsies, and followed it up in 1993 with another release, Swing Kids, a movie about teenagers who secretly listened to forbidden jazz during the rise of Nazi Germany. Bale was recommended by actress Winona Ryder to star in Gillian Armstrong's 1994 film Little Women. Bale provided the voice for Thomas, a young compatriot of Captain John Smith, in Disney's Pocahontas (1995) and in 1997 played Arthur Stuart in Velvet Goldmine, Todd Haynes' tribute to glam rock. In 1999, Bale contributed to an all-star cast, including Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Stanley Tucci, and Rupert Everett, portraying Demetrius in an updated version of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In 1999, Bale played serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, director Mary Harron's adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' controversial novel. Bale was briefly dropped from the project in favor of Leonardo DiCaprio, but DiCaprio eventually dropped out to star in The Beach, and Bale was cast once again. He researched his character by studying the novel and prepared himself physically for the role by spending months tanning and exercising in order to achieve the "Olympian physique" of the character as described in the original novel. He went so far as to distance himself from the cast and crew to maintain the darker side of Bateman's character. American Psycho premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival to much controversy. Roger Ebert condemned the film at first, calling it pornography and "the most loathed film at Sundance," but gave it a favourable review, writing that Harron "transformed a novel about bloodlust into a movie about men's vanity." Of Bale's performance, he wrote, "Christian Bale is heroic in the way he allows the character to leap joyfully into despicability; there is no instinct for self-preservation here, and that is one mark of a good actor."
On April 14, 2000, Lions Gate Films released American Psycho in theatres. Bale was later approached to make a cameo appearance in another Bret Easton Ellis adaptation, The Rules of Attraction, a film loosely connected to American Psycho, but he declined out of loyalty to Harron's vision of Bateman, which he felt could not be properly expressed by anyone else. In 2000, he again played a villain, this time in John Singleton's Shaft.
Bale has played an assortment of diverse characters since 2001. His first role after American Psycho was in the John Madden adaptation of the best-selling novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Bale played Mandras, a Greek fisherman who vied with Nicolas Cage's title character for the affections of the desirable Pelagia (Penelope Cruz). Captain Corelli's Mandolin was Bale's second time working with John Hurt, after All the Little Animals.
From 2002 to 2003, Bale starred in three feature films. Laurel Canyon (2002) was generally well received by critics. This film also marked the second time he worked with actress Kate Beckinsale, his costar in Prince of Jutland (1994). Critics generally focused on star Frances McDormand's performance over the rest of the cast.
Reign of Fire was Bale's first action vehicle and had, compared to all his previous work, an immense budget estimated at US$95,000,000. Bale entered into negotiations about starring in the film with reservations, but director Rob Bowman convinced him to take the lead role. Bale starred as Quinn Abercromby opposite Matthew McConaughey's Denton Van Zan. Bale and McConaughey trained for their respective roles by boxing and working out.
Equilibrium was Bale's third film of 2002, costing US$20 million to produce but earning just over US$5 million worldwide. In Equilibrium, Bale played John Preston, an elite law enforcer in a dystopian society. Equilibrium featured a fictional martial art called Gun Kata that combined gunfighting with hand-to-hand combat. According to moviebodycounts.com, the character of John Preston has the third most on-screen kills in a single movie ever with 118, exactly half of the movie's total of 236.
After a year's hiatus, Bale returned in 2004 to play Trevor Reznik, the title character in the psychological thriller The Machinist. Bale gained attention for his devotion to the role and for the lengths to which he went to achieve Reznik's emaciated, skeletal appearance. He went without proper rest for prolonged periods, and placed himself on a crash diet of generally coffee and apples, which reduced his weight by 63 pounds (4 st 4 lb/27 kg) in a matter of months. By the end of filming Bale weighed only 121 pounds (8 st 9 lb/55 kg), a transformation he described as "very calming mentally" and which drew comparisons to Robert De Niro's alternate weight-gaining regimen for his role as Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film Raging Bull. Bale claimed that he had not worked for a period of time before he was cast in the film. "...I just hadn't found scripts that I'd really been interested in. So I was really dying for something to arrive. Then when this one did, I just didn't want to put it down. I finished it and, upon the kind of revelation that you get at the end, I immediately wanted to go back and re-visit it, to take a look at what clues I could have gotten throughout". The Machinist was a low-budget production, costing roughly US$5 million to produce, and was given only a limited US release. It was well received critically with the review tallying website Rotten Tomatoes reporting that 75% of the critics' reviews tallied were positive.
Bale, an admirer of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away, was then cast as the voice of the title character, Howl, in the English language dub of the Japanese director's fantasy anime adventure Howl's Moving Castle, an adaptation of Diana Wynne Jones's children's novel. Its profits in the US were US$4,711,096, a fraction of its worldwide gross (US$235,184,110).
It was reported that Bale had previously auditioned for the role of Robin in Batman Forever (1995) and later Batman and Robin (1997), but lost out to Chris O'Donnell. However, this rumor was later dispelled by Bale himself in a magazine interview in 2008. In 2004, after completing filming for The Machinist, Bale won the coveted role of Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, a reboot of the Batman film series. Bale beat out Jake Gyllenhaal, the closest competition for the role.
Still fresh off The Machinist, it became necessary for Bale to bulk up to match Batman's muscular physique. He was given a deadline of six months to do this. Bale recalled it as far from a simple accomplishment: "...when it actually came to building muscle, I was useless. I couldn't do one push up the first day. All of the muscles were gone, so I had a real tough time rebuilding all of that." With the help of a personal trainer, Bale succeeded in meeting the deadline, gaining a total of 100 lb (45 kg) in six months. He went from about 130 lbs to 230 lbs. He then discovered that he had actually gained more weight than the director desired, and dropped his weight to 190 lbs by the time filming began.
Bale had initial concerns about playing Batman, as he felt more ridiculous than intimidating in the Batsuit. He dealt with this by depicting Batman as a savage beast in his portrayal. To attain a deeper understanding of the character, Bale read various Batman comic books. He explained his interpretation of the young boy: "Batman is his hidden, demonic rage-filled side. The creature Batman creates is an absolutely sincere creature and one that he has to control but does so in a very haphazard way. He's capable of enacting violence — and to kill — so he's constantly having to rein himself in." For Bale, the most gruelling part about playing Batman was the suit. "You stick it on, you get hot, you sweat and you get a headache in the mask," he said. "But I'm not going to bitch about it because I get to play Batman." When promoting the film in interviews and public events, Bale retained an American accent to avoid confusion.
Batman Begins was released in the U.S. on June 15, 2005 and was a U.S. and international triumph for Warner Bros., costing approximately US$135 million to produce and taking in over US$370 million in returns worldwide. Bale earned the Best Hero award at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards for his performance.
Bale reprised his role as Batman in the Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight. He trained in the Keysi Fighting Method, and performed many of his own stunts. The Dark Knight was released in the U.S. on July 18, 2008 and stormed through the box-office, with a record-breaking $158.4 million in the U.S. in its first weekend. It broke the $300 million barrier in 10 days, the $400 million mark in 18 days and the $500 million mark in 43 days, three new U.S. box office records set by the film. The film went on to gross over $1 billion at the box office worldwide, making it the fourth-highest grossing movie worldwide of all time, before adjusting for inflation.
It has been confirmed that Bale will star in the third projected movie in the rebooted franchise, The Dark Knight Rises, which will be released on July 20, 2012,making Bale the actor who has played Batman more times than any other actor in feature film. Bale has given the same opinion as Nolan that, if the latter was forced to bring Robin into the films, he would never again play Batman; even though one of his favorite Batman stories, Batman: Dark Victory, focuses on Robin's origin.
After Batman Begins, Bale returned to appearing in independent films. He was cast as one of the two leads in the South Central David Ayer-helmed crime drama Harsh Times, co-starring with Freddy Rodriguez and Eva Longoria. Bale played Jim Luther Davis, a grim Afghanistan War veteran afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder, inexplicably approached by the Department of Homeland Security and hired as a federal agent. Harsh Times premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival and had a wide release on 10 November 2006.
Terrence Malick directed The New World, a period piece inspired by the stories of Pocahontas, and Bale was cast as John Rolfe. He shared the screen with Colin Farrell and Q'Orianka Kilcher, who played John Smith and Pocahontas. The majority of screen time was devoted to Farrell and Kilcher; Bale was a secondary character, and only appeared during the last third of the film. The film was a failure at the U.S. box office and its worldwide total (US$29,506,437) fell short of turning a profit (the production budget was placed at US$30 million).
In 2006, Bale took on four projects. Rescue Dawn, by German filmmaker Werner Herzog, had him playing U.S. Fighter pilot Dieter Dengler, who has to fight for his life after being shot down while on a mission during the Vietnam War. Bale left a strong impression on Herzog, with the director complimenting his acting abilities: "I find him one of the greatest talents of his generation. We made up our own minds long before he did Batman."
In The Prestige, an adaptation of the Christopher Priest novel about a rivalry between two Victorian stage magicians, Bale was reunited with Batman Begins' Michael Caine and director Christopher Nolan. The cast of The Prestige also included Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Piper Perabo, and David Bowie. I'm Not There, a film in which Bale again worked alongside Todd Haynes and Heath Ledger (who would go on to play The Joker in The Dark Knight), is an artistic reflection of the life of Bob Dylan. He starred opposite Russell Crowe in a commercially and critically successful Western film, 3:10 to Yuma.
Bale was originally cast to play George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's film W., but dropped out due to the prosthetics involved. Bale played John Connor in Terminator Salvation and FBI agent Melvin Purvis in Michael Mann's Public Enemies.
Terminator Salvation incident
In July 2008, Bale had an angry tirade on the sets of Terminator Salvation, while filming in New Mexico. In February 2009, the audio recording of the incident was released. The tirade was directed at Shane Hurlbut, director of photography for the film. According to Bale, Hurlbut had, for the second time, ruined his concentration by walking onto the set during a scene. The recording is of a highly agitated Bale directing profanities at Hurlbut, threatening and belittling him, and finally threatening to quit the film if Hurlbut repeated his offence without being fired for it. It was reported that Warner film executives sent the tape to the insurer of the film in case Bale decided to quit the movie. In an interview with E! Online, assistant director and producer of Terminator Salvation, Bruce Franklin, said it was an isolated incident. "If you are working in a very intense scene and someone takes you out of your groove ... It was the most emotional scene in the movie ... [A]nd for him to get stopped in the middle of it. He is very intensely involved in his character. He didn't walk around like that all day long. It was just a moment and it passed", Franklin said.
Actors Whoopi Goldberg and Terry Crews, directors Darren Aronofsky and Ron Howard, as well as Ain't It Cool News website creator Harry Knowles have also publicly defended Bale's actions, some of them citing the practice that crew members are to remain still while the camera is rolling. The incident also inspired experimental band The Mae Shi to write the song, "R U Professional", which features samples from the recording. Stephen Colbert parodied the incident on the 4 February 2009 episode of The Colbert Report, in which guest Steve Martin repeatedly walked in front of the camera and was berated by Colbert. The incident was re-enacted on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, with Inside the Actor's Studio host James Lipton giving performances of both Bale and the crewmember. An episode of the animated comedy series Family Guy also mixed in the voice of Peter Griffin interacting with Bale and reacting to Bale's comments as if they were directed at him to comedic effect.
After remaining silent for most of the week, Bale gave a public apology on 6 February 2009, to a Los Angeles radio station, KROQ. He stated that the outburst was "inexcusable" and that it was motivated by the day's shooting intensity. Bale said he "acted like a punk", and that he and Hurlbut talked after the incident and "resolved this completely". Bale acknowledged that the two worked together for several hours after the incident, and "at least a month after that... I've seen a rough cut of the movie and he has done a wonderful job. It looks fantastic".
Bale starred alongside Mark Wahlberg in the David O. Russell-directed 2010 drama The Fighter, for which he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor and a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2011. NBC decided to bleep the end of Bale's Golden Globe acceptance speech when he was cursing.
Writer/director Joe Carnahan confirmed in November 2007 that Bale is also involved in the upcoming movie Killing Pablo in which he is to play Major Steve Jacoby. According to a Nuts magazine interview, Bale stated that he will be in the running to play the role of Solid Snake in a film adaptation of Metal Gear Solid. Niels Arden Oplev, director of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, is to have Bale as lead in his current project The Last Photograph, which Oplev hopes to start filming early 2011.
On 29 January 2000, Bale married Sandra "Sibi" Blažić (born 1970), a former model, make-up artist and personal assistant to Winona Ryder; the couple have a daughter, Emmeline, who was born on 27 March 2005 in Santa Monica, California. Since 1992, Bale has resided in Los Angeles.
Bale has three elder sisters – Erin Bale, a musician; Sharon Bale, a computer professional; and Louise Bale, a theatre actress and director. The Bale family is deeply rooted in show business, especially theatre. Bale is a distant relative of British actress Lillie Langtry, while his uncle, Rex Bale, and maternal grandfather were actors as well.
Like his late father, businessman David (1941–2003), Christian Bale actively supports environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund. Feminist activist Gloria Steinem became Christian Bale's stepmother when she married David Bale on 3 September 2000; it was Steinem's first marriage (at the age of 66), and the couple were together until David Bale's death in 2003, aged 62.
During an interview promoting his 2009 film Public Enemies Bale said he is a video game fan, specifically of the Metal Gear Solid series. When questioned if he was in the running to play Solid Snake, Bale stated that he prefers to devote his spare time to constructive things and dislikes discussing his personal life.
Bale has stated that he is a big fan of late comedian Chris Farley and of Farley's film Beverly Hills Ninja