Christian Bale

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Christian Bale

Christian Bale, 2008
Born Christian Charles Philip Bale
30 January 1974 (1974-01-30) (age 35)
Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales[1], United Kingdom
Occupation Actor
Years active 1982–present
Spouse(s) Sibi Blazic (2000-)

Christian Charles Philip Bale (born 30 January 1974) is an English actor[2][3] whose film credits include American Psycho, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Prestige, 3:10 To Yuma, and the upcoming film Terminator Salvation, in which he will play the role of John Connor. In addition to starring roles, such as Batman, in big budget Hollywood films, he has long been heavily involved in independent and art house films.

Bale first caught the public eye when he was cast in the starring role of Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun at the age of 13, playing an English boy who is separated from his parents and subsequently finds himself lost in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Since then, he has portrayed a wide range of characters. Bale is especially noted for his cult following: the tenth anniversary issue of Entertainment Weekly hailed him as one of the "Top 8 Most Powerful Cult Figures of the Past Decade", citing his cult status on the Internet.[4] Entertainment Weekly called Bale one of the "Most Creative People in Entertainment", after his performance in American Psycho.[5]


Early life

A 14-year old Bale in Stockholm, Sweden in February 1988 while promoting Empire of the Sun.

Although Bale was born in Wales, his parents were South African-born entrepreneur, commercial pilot, and talent manager David Bale, and English circus clown and performer Jenny James.[6][7][8] He is the youngest of four children. After leaving Wales in 1976, Bale spent his childhood in several countries, including England, Portugal, and the United States.[1]

Settling for four years in Bournemouth and Henley-on-Thames, Bale attended Bournemouth School and Shiplake C of E Primary school respectively. He participated actively in rugby union.[1] 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.[1] As a child, he trained in ballet and guitar.[1] His sister Louise's work in theatre also influenced his decision to become an actor.[1] 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.[1] The elder Bale later married feminist icon Gloria Steinem, and died on 30 December 2003, from brain lymphoma, aged 62.[8]

Bale's first foray into acting was a commercial for the fabric softener Lenor in 1982, when he was eight years old.[9] He appeared in a Pac-Man cereal commercial playing a child rock star a year later[10] and in 1984 made his stage debut in the The Nerd, opposite Rowan Atkinson.[11]


Early work

13-year-old Bale with Nigel Havers in Empire of the Sun (1987).

Bale made his film debut 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 for the first time 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.[1] 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 Board created the award especially for him.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] 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 1993, 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 handpicked by Winona Ryder in 1994 to star in Gillian Armstrong's version of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.[citation needed] 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 Bateman's Olympian physique,[12] even going so far as to distance himself from the cast and crew in order to preserve the darker side of Bateman's character.[13] American Psycho premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival to much controversy. Roger Ebert condemned the film at first, calling it pornography[14] and “the most loathed film at Sundance,”[15] 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.”[16]

On April 14, 2000, Lions Gate Films released American Psycho in theatres.[17] 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.[18] In 2000, he played the villain in John Singleton's remake of 1971's Shaft.

Bale played an assortment of diverse characters from 2001 onwards. 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.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21] Bale entered into negotiations about starring in the film with reservations, but director Rob Bowman convinced him to take the lead role.[22] 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.[22]

Equilibrium was Bale's third film of 2002, costing US$20 million to produce but earning just over US$5 million worldwide.[citation needed] 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, 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.[23]


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,[24] which reduced his weight by 60 pounds (4st 4lb / 27 kg) in a matter of months.[25] By the end of filming Bale weighed only 121 pounds (8st 9lb / 55 kg),[24] a transformation he described as “very calming mentally”[26] and which drew comparisons to Robert De Niro's alternate weight-gaining regimen for his role as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull.[27] The Machinist was a low-budget production, costing roughly US$5 million to produce, and was given only a limited U.S. release.

Bale, an admirer of Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away,[18] 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 Joneschildren's novel. Its profits in the United States were US$4,711,096, a fraction of its worldwide gross (US$230,458,788).[citation needed]

The new Batman

Bale as the new Batman in Batman Begins (2005).

It was reported that Bale had previously auditioned for the role of Robin in Batman Forever (1995), but lost out to Chris O'Donnell.[28] However, this rumour was later dispelled by Bale himself in a magazine interview in 2008.[29] In 2004, after completing filming for The Machinist, Bale won the coveted role of Bruce Wayne/Batman and was set to star in the Christopher Nolan-helmed Batman Begins, a reboot of the Batman franchise without any ties to the Burton or Schumacher films. Bale beat out Jake Gyllenhaal, the closest competition for the role,[30] a situation reversed when Bale lost the part of Anthony Swofford in Jarhead (2005) to Gyllenhaal.[28]

Still fresh from 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.”[25] With the help of a personal trainer, Bale succeeded in meeting the deadline, gaining a total of 100lbs (46 kg) in six months. He went from about 130lbs to 230lbs.[31] He then discovered that he had actually gained more weight than the director desired, and dropped his weight to 190lbs by the time filming began.[32]

Bale had initial concerns about playing Batman, as he felt more ridiculous than intimidating in the Batman suit. He dealt with this by depicting Batman as a savage beast in his portrayal.[25] 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.”[33] When promoting the film in interviews and public events, Bale retained an American accent to avoid confusion.[34]

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$135,000,000 to produce and taking in over US$370,000,000 in returns worldwide.[citation needed] Bale earned the Best Hero award at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards for his performance.[citation needed]


After Batman Begins, Bale returned to doing 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.[citation needed]

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$30,000,000).[35]

I kind of like movies where I just get to just be dirty and crawling in the mud.[36]

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 Begins.”[37] 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 2008 film The Dark Knight), is an artistic reflection of the life of Bob Dylan. He also starred with Russell Crowe in a commercially and critically successful remake of the 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.[38]

Bale reprised his role as Batman in The Dark Knight, the 2008 sequel to Batman Begins. He trained in the Keysi Fighting Method, and performed many of his own stunts.[39] The Dark Knight was released in Australia on 16 July 2008 and in the United States two days later. The film stormed through the box-office, with a record-breaking $158.4 million in the United States in its first weekend.[40] It broke the $300 million barrier in 10 days, the $400 million mark in 16 days and the $500 million mark in 43 days, three new United States box office records set by the film.[41] The film went on to gross over $998 million at the box office worldwide, making it the fourth-highest grossing movie worldwide of all time, before adjusting for inflation.[42]

Bale has been cast as the role of John Connor in the upcoming Terminator Salvation film,[43] and will appear as FBI agent Melvin Purvis in Michael Mann's Public Enemies.[44] Writer/director Joe Carnahan confirmed in November 2007 that Bale is also involved in the upcoming Killing Pablo in which he is to play Major Steve Jacoby.[45] 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.[46]

Personal life

On January 29, 2000, Bale married Yugoslavian-American[47] Sandra “Sibi” Blažić (born 1970), a one-time model, make-up artist, and personal assistant to Winona Ryder; Ryder co-starred with Bale in Little Women. He has a daughter with Blazic named Emmeline,[48] who was born on 27 March 2005, in Santa Monica, California.[49][50]

Bale has three older 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.[1]

Like his father, David, Bale is known as an activist, and supports animal welfare groups such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund.[9] He has been a vegetarian since age six when he read Charlotte's Web and made the connection between animals and meat.[51] Feminist activist Gloria Steinem became Bale's stepmother, and a first-time bride (at age 66), when she married David Bale on 3 September 2000. The marriage ended with the death of the elder Bale in 2003.[52] Bale currently resides in Los Angeles.[citation needed]


On 22 July 2008, Bale attended a London police station by appointment and was arrested in connection with an alleged assault on his mother, Jenny, and sister, Sharon, who called the authorities.[53][54] After being held for more than four hours,[55] he was released on bail, pending further investigation.[53] He has denied these allegations.[55] On 14 August, British police declared that they would take no further action against him.[56] The charges were dismissed for lack of evidence.[57]

In July 2008, it was reported that Bale had an angry tirade on the set of Terminator Salvation, while filming in New Mexico.[58] In February 2009, audio of the incident was released.[59][60] The tirade was directed at Shane Hurlbut, director of photography for the film. According to Bale, Hurlbut had, for the second time, ruined Bale's concentration by walking into his line of sight during an intense scene.[61][62][58] The recording is of a highly agitated Bale directing profanities at Hurlbut, threatening him, and finally threatening to quit the film if Hurlbut repeated his offence without being fired for it.[61] It was reported that Warner film executives sent the tape to the insurer of the film in case Bale decided to quit the movie.[63] 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," said Franklin. "And 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."[64]

Actors Whoopi Goldberg and Terry Crews,[65][66] directors Darren Aronofsky[67] and Ron Howard, as well as Ain't It Cool News website creator Harry Knowles[68] 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. Lucian Piane, a composer and music producer with the Internet alias RevoLucian, recorded "Bale Out", a comedic techno remix of Bale's verbal rant, which received more than 200,000 hits on MySpace and YouTube in one day.[69] Stephen Colbert parodied the incident on the February 4 episode of The Colbert Report, in which guest Steve Martin repeatedly walked in front of the camera and was berated by Colbert.[70] An episode of the animated TV series Family Guy also mixes in the voice of Peter Griffin interacting with and reacting to Bale's comments as if they were directed at him, also for comedic effect.[71]

After remaining silent for most of the week, Bale gave a public apology on the morning of February 6, 2009, on radio station KROQ. He stated that the outburst was "inexcusable" and that it was motivated by the day's shooting intensity.[72] Bale said he "acted like a punk", and that he and Hurlbut talked after the incident and "resolved this completely".[73] Bale acknowledged that the two worked together for several hours after the incident, and "at least a month after that". He noted, "I've seen a rough cut of the movie and he has done a wonderful job. It looks fantastic."[73]


Year Movie Role Notes and Awards
1986 Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna Alexei Television film
1987 Heart of the Country Ben Harris Miniseries
Empire of the Sun Jim "Jamie" Graham
Mio min Mio Benke
1989 Henry V Falstaff's Boy
1990 Treasure Island Jim Hawkins
1991 A Murder of Quality Tim Perkins television film
1992 Newsies Jack "Cowboy" Kelley
Francis Sullivan
1993 Swing Kids Thomas Berger
1994 Little Women Theodore "Laurie" Lawrence
Prince of Jutland Amled
1995 Pocahontas Thomas animated film
voice only
1996 The Portrait of a Lady Edward Rosier
The Secret Agent Stevie
1997 Metroland Chris Lloyd
1998 All the Little Animals Bobby Platt
Velvet Goldmine Arthur Stuart
1999 Mary, Mother of Jesus Jesus of Nazareth Television movie
A Midsummer Night's Dream Demetrius
2000 Shaft Walter Wade, Jr.
American Psycho Patrick Bateman
2001 Captain Corelli's Mandolin Mandras
2002 Equilibrium Cleric John Preston
Reign of Fire Quinn Abercromby
Laurel Canyon Sam Bentley
2004 Howl's Moving Castle Howl 2005 English dub
voice only
The Machinist Trevor Reznik
2005 Batman Begins Bruce Wayne/Batman
The New World John Rolfe
2006 The Prestige Alfred Borden
Harsh Times Jim Luther Davis
2007 Rescue Dawn Dieter Dengler
I'm Not There Jack Rollins/Pastor John
3:10 to Yuma Dan Evans
2008 The Dark Knight Bruce Wayne/Batman
2009 Public Enemies Melvin Purvis post-production
Terminator Salvation John Connor post-production
2010 Killing Pablo Major Steve Jacoby pre-production

Awards and nominations

Year Group Award Film/Show Result Win/Nom
1987 NBR Award Best Juvenile Performance Empire of the Sun Won 1-0
1989 Young Artist Awards Best Young Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama Empire of the Sun Won 2-0
2001 Chlotrudis Award Best Actor American Psycho Won 3-0
2001 Empire Award Best Actor American Psycho Won 4-0
2001 ALFS Award British Actor of the Year American Psycho Won 5-0
2001 OFCS Award Best Actor American Psycho Won 6-0
2004 CIFF Best Actor El Maquinista Won 7-0
2005 Irish Film and Television Award Best International Actor Batman Begins Nominated 7-1
2005 European Film Awards Best Actor El Maquinista Nominated 7-2
2005 Saturn Awards Best Actor El Maquinista Won 8-2
2006 MTV Movie Awards Best Hero Batman Begins Won 9-2
2006 ALFS Award British Actor of the Year El Maquinista Nominated 9-3
2006 Empire Awards Best Actor Batman Begins Nominated 9-4
2006 Saturn Awards Best Actor Batman Begins Won 10-4
2006 Scream Awards Best Superhero Batman Begins Nominated 10-5
2006 Scream Awards Most Heroic Performance Batman Begins Nominated 10-6
2007 Empire Award Best Actor The Prestige Nominated 10-7
2007 San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Special Award 3:10 to Yuma Won 11-8
2007 Satellite Award Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama Rescue Dawn Nominated 11-9
2008 ALFS Award British Actor of the Year 3:10 to Yuma Nominated 11-10
2008 Scream Awards Best Fantasy Actor The Dark Knight Won 12-10
2008 Scream Awards Best Superhero The Dark Knight Won 13-10
2009 People's Choice Awards Favorite Male Action Star The Dark Knight Nominated 13-11
2009 People's Choice Awards Favorite Leading Man The Dark Knight Nominated 13-12
2009 People's Choice Awards Favorite Superhero The Dark Knight Won 14-12
2009 People's Choice Awards Favorite On Screen Match Up (w/ Heath Ledger) The Dark Knight Won 15-12
2009 West Point Cadet Choice Awards Best Exemplification of Leadership The Dark Knight Won


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External links

Preceded by
Bruce Thomas
Actors to portray Batman
Succeeded by

NAME Bale, Christian
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Bale, Christian Charles Philip
DATE OF BIRTH 30 January 1974
PLACE OF BIRTH Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales, UK
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