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Christian Bale is an award winning actor who as a child starred in Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun, and is also know for his roles in Batman movies.
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Proving his range, Bale played a preppy 1980s serial killer in American Psycho (2000), which was based on the book by Bret Easton Ellis. His character, Patrick Bateman, was an investment banker by day and a sadist by night. For the role, Bale physically transformed himself. He developed a chiseled physique, which reflected his character's obsession with his own appearance. Often derided for its violence, the film did raise Bale's profile in Hollywood. He has stood by this controversial movie,
telling Entertainment Weekly, "I don't understand anybody who can't find the humor. It's twisted and sick. But it's so ridiculous."
Again working the character from outside in, Bale lost more than 60 pounds for 2004's The Machinist. At times, his diet consisted of only an apple and a latte a day. In the psychological thriller, he played a machine shop worker who is battling insomnia, talking with a seemingly nonexistent co-worker, and quickly dropping weight.
Bale then had to quickly beef up to play the legendary superhero Batman in Batman Begins (2005). He beat out such actors as Jake Gyllenhaal, Joshua Jackson, and Cillian Murphy for the part. Stepping into a role once occupied by George Clooney and Michael Keaton, Bale gave his own unique performance in the dual part of millionaire Bruce Wayne/crime fighter Batman. This re-imagining of the Batman saga proved to be a big box office hit, earning more than $72 million in its first five days.
Continuing to pursue a diverse mix of roles, Bale played an ex-army ranger in Harsh Times (2005) that same year. He also appeared in Terrence Malick's historical drama The New World (2005) as John Rolfe, the husband of Pocahontas. For Rescue Dawn (2006), Bale spent months filming in the jungles of Thailand to portray an American pilot captured during the Vietnam War.
Bale also co-starred opposite Hugh Jackman in The Prestige (2006). The two played magicians who become rivals in London during the late 1800s. Heading to the American West, Bale next starred in his first Western, 3:10 to Yuma (2007). He played a lame, nearly destitute farmer who agrees to take a murderous bank robber (Russell Crowe) to jail in order to win back the respect of his wife and son.
Not one to shy away from the unusual, Bale was one of several actors—including Cate Blanchett and Heath Ledger—to portray folk and rock music legend Bob Dylan in the experimental film I'm Not There (2007). "It shows all of the colors of Dylan and not all pretty colors," explained director and writer Todd Haynes.
Bale and Ledger got a chance to work together on the second installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman saga: The Dark Knight (2008). Sadly, Ledger died in January 2008, just before the film's release. The two had become close during the making of the film and Bale was shocked by Ledger's sudden death. "It takes a long time to accept that someone's gone, when all body and mind are telling you that this is somebody you will know for a great deal of time," Bale said.
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