There are plenty of actors with the ability to transform into a totally different character from one movie to the next, but none do it so hauntingly convincing as Mr Christian Bale.
Serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, insomniac Trevor Reznik in The Machinist, Batman in the Christopher Nolan trilogy, Dick Cheney in Vice – there’s no question that Mr Christian Bale is in a league with method acting greats like Marlon Brando, Daniel Day-Lewis and Philip Seymour Hoffman. He seems to become the character he is playing.
Like a shapeshifter Mr Bale transforms from one person to a completely different person in just a few months. It’s almost scary. His body has had to endure numerous grueling work-out and eating programs: for American Psycho he trained his torso into fitness perfection, for The Machinist he lost over sixty pounds, for Vice he gained forty. That’s true commitment, folks.
In Vice, his latest movie, Mr Bale is barely recognisable. The movie follows the rise of Dick Cheney to the top of the political food chain. Well, just under the top actually, as he ended up being Vice President in the administration of George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009. With their bald skulls, bloated faces and gold-rimmed glasses, there’s an uncanny resemblance between the portrayer and the portrayed. Even the thin lips look as if they were sculpted by the same divine hands.
Mr Bale isn’t the attention seeking Hollywood star you might expect him to be. He shines when the camera is pointed at him, and likes to keep to himself when it isn’t. Self-mockery is his first line of defense against the pitfalls of stardom. ‘If everyone really knew what I jerk I am in real life, I wouldn’t be so adored in the slightest’, he once said. Though Vice might convince you otherwise, let’s not forget Mr Bale is only 45 years old and still has a long career in front of him. If only more actors of stature would live by his belief that ‘an actor should never be larger than the film he’s in’. (Are you reading this, Mr Depp?)