Profile: Christian Bale is Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises
Born on January 30, 1974, in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Starting his career as a child, Christian Bale has emerged as one of the most versatile actors in the entertainment industry. It seems that performing is in his genes with a mother who was a dancer and a clown and an older sister who was an actress. Even his grandfather was in the business, working as a stunt double for John Wayne on the 1962 film Hatari!
Bale landed his first commercial at the age of nine. Soon after, he was appearing on the London stage with comedian Rowan Atkinson in The Nerd. Steven Spielberg picked Bale out of 4,000 other young actors to play the part of Jim Graham in Empire of the Sun (1987). In the World War II drama, he played a young English boy growing up in China who ends up in a Japanese internment camp.
Bale’s remarkable performance won him rave reviews as well as the Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a Motion Picture and the National Board of Review’s award for Best Juvenile Performance. Only 13 years old at the time, Bale found all of the attention unnerving at times. He was known to excuse himself from an interview to go to the bathroom, and then he would simply leave the building.
More parts followed, including a small role in Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Henry V (1989). A few years later, Bale found himself in the musical Newsies (1992). He had signed on to the project about young people who sold newspapers on the street—called newsboys— before the musical numbers were added. A box office dud, the project ended up becoming one of the lowest-grossing films ever made by Walt Disney Pictures.
In 1994, Bale had a supporting role in the film adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic Little Women, starring Winona Ryder as Jo March. He played Ryder’s love interest, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence. Soon after this film, Bale tackled another famous literary character, Edward Rosier, in Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady (1996), opposite Nicole Kidman.
Reunited with Kenneth Branagh (sic) for A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), Bale had a more substantial role this time around. He played Demetrius, a young man in love with Hermia (Anna Friel) who does not return his affections and instead is in love with Lysander (Dominic West). In turn, Demetrius is loved by Helena (Calista Flockhart). All sorts of craziness ensue when the four venture into a forest inhabited by faeries.
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.”
- Chameleon-like changes of appearance for different roles.
- Frequently works with directors Christopher Nolan and Terrence Malick.
- Often portrays obsessive and detached or loner characters
- Often stars in period films and has a distinguished resume in films of Shakespeare plays
Acceptance Speech: Academy Awards 2010, Best Actor for The Fighter
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