Monday, March 07, 2011

Oscar Winner Christian Bale's Career

Christian Bale has just been awarded the Oscar for best supporting actor for his role in The Fighter. He is known as someone who immerses himself in a role 100%. He has not been an overnight success, starting out as a child actor in the 1980s. He came from a showbiz family, with a grandfather who was an actor, and his mother worked for the circus, and the family traveled extensively.

He was born in Wales in 1974 and earned a role in Anastasia, a made for TV movie in 1986. The film co-starred Amy Irving, then the wife of director Steven Spielberg. She recommended Bale for the role in Spielberg's next film, Empire of the Sun. That film was released in 1987 and Bale received critical acclaim. The National Board of Review voted him the best juvenile performance for the film. He enjoyed the acting but found the press junkets to be repetitive and grueling. He wanted to be a kid, and was disillusioned by the loss of his privacy. He vowed to never act again.

The acting hiatus only lasted a year and Bale filmed Henry the Fifth with Kenneth Branagh and Judi Dench. Around this time he also did a TV movie with Charlton Heston. In 1992 Bale did the film Newsies which was a musical. He endured a grueling schedule of singing and dancing lessons before filming the project. The movie was a flop, and so was his next work, Swing Kids (1993). But, even if the films were not seen by a wide audience, Bale received critical acclaim for his acting skills. In 1994 he did the film Little Women, where he developed a friendship with co-star Winona Ryder. She ended up introducing him to his wife.

Bale continued working in films through the 1990s, but his breakthrough role came in 2000 with American Psycho. This film was first put together in 1997 but went through changes in script, cast and crew. This was based on a novel by Bret Easton Ellis who wrote the book Less than Zero, which was a 1980s film with Robert Downey, Jr. American Psycho was a profile of Patrick Bateman, a deranged materialistic Wall Street yuppie from the 1980s obsessed with sex and violence. The film had a budget of $6 million. Lion's Gate Pictures did not know if Bale was right for the role. For a period of time, it looked like Leonardo DiCaprio would star and Oliver Stone would direct, but those plans fell through. Mary Harmon ended up as the director, and she was impressed with Bale's intensity and dedication to his craft. The film was not a hit at the box office and had mixed reviews from the critics. But, once it was released on DVD it caught on as a cult classic. It had a mixed reception at Sundance and the MPAA wanted to give it an NC-17 rating. Edits were made to make it an R rated film. I think it is a fantastic script and the performance by Bale is mesmerizing.

After American Psycho, the next film that caught the attention of critics and audiences was The Machinist in 2004. This was about an emaciated man who was a tortured soul who had insomnia and guilt over committing a crime. He lost 60 pounds to do this film, going from 180 pounds to 120 pounds. He ate less than 500 calories per day and was physically exhausted on the set. This is an example of how he committed to the role completely. It made me think of Robert DeNiro's transformation from muscular to fat in Raging Bull.

In 2005, Batman Begins was released and Bale had pressure on him to succeed with this franchise, which had been damaged by the George Clooney vehicle, Batman and Robin. It was well received, as well as 2007's The Dark Knight. Bale's next Batman work will be released in 2012 and will be called The Dark Knight Rises. He stays in character the whole time when doing these films, even wanting the name Bruce Wayne on his door of his dressing room.

2008 had Bale starring in Terminator Salvation, where he had an on-set tirade, yelling at the director of photography when he was trying to film a scene. He was mad since the camera operator was walking around while Bale was trying to concentrate on his scene. He was screaming "Are you professional?" Bale gave a public apology on a radio show in 2009 and said his actions were "inexcusable".

The 2010 film The Fighter has Bale co-starring with Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams. He plays a crack addicted boxing coach and former boxer Dicky Eklund, who works with his half brother to make him a champion. Like with his other roles, that part showed how Bale can transform himself like a chameleon in terms of his physical appearance and his mannerisms and way of speaking. I think he is one of the best actors working today. The role earned Bale a Golden Globe, an Oscar, a Screen Actor's Guild award and many other accolades from film critics.

* Some information from Biography channel program about Christian Bale, and
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