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Christian Bale Bio: From American Psycho to The Dark Knight Rises

VO: Rebecca Brayton
He began acting at only nine years of age, and managed to achieve instant fame when Steven Spielberg handpicked him to star in 1987\'s \"Empire of the Sun.\" His role as an upper-class British youth living in China was so well received, critics declared the young actor \"the next big thing.\" However, he would only achieved similar recognition in 2000 for \"American Psycho\", before conquering the international box-office with Christopher Nolan\'s Batman trilogy. Join as we explore the life and career of actor Christian Bale.

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Christian Bale Bio: From American Psycho to The Dark Knight Rises

He’s versatile and volatile. Welcome to and today we’ll be taking a look at the life and career of Christian Bale.

Christian Charles Philip Bale was born January 30th, 1974 in Wales. He spent his youth in Portugal and England with his circus performer mother and his South African-born entrepreneur father.

Bale first became involved in acting at only nine years of age, when he landed a non-speaking part in a Pac-Man cereal commercial. He then set his sights on larger projects, including a stage role opposite Rowan Atkinson in 1984’s “The Nerd” and the mini-series “Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna.”

He achieved instant fame at age thirteen, when Steven Spielberg handpicked him from four thousand applicants to star in 1987’s “Empire of the Sun.” His role as an upper-class British youth living in China was so well received, critics declared Bale “the next big thing.”

Unfortunately, the pressure to live up to expectations, and his parents’ divorce, caused him to turn down interviews and go into isolation. Thankfully, Bale’s passion returned when he was asked to appear in 1989’s “Henry V” and the made-for-television movie “Treasure Island.”

Bale’s career recovery was almost derailed in 1992 when critics panned his performance in Disney’s historical musical “Newsies.” However, Bale redeemed himself the next year with “Swing Kids,” as a rebellious jazz-loving German teen who joins the Hitler Youth during World War II.

Afterward, he was cast in the Hamlet adaptation “Royal Deceit,” and wooed audiences with his charismatic and energetic performance in “Little Women.” After voicing Thomas, a settler and friend of John Smith in Disney’s animated classic “Pocahontas,” Bale proved he was more than just a pretty face with his excellent portrayal of a mentally disabled youth in “The Secret Agent.”

Bale took on his first adult role in 1997 when he played a married man with regrets in the dramedy “Metroland.” He soon joined an all-star cast as Demetrius in the Shakespeare adaptation “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Bale then made waves as Wall Street stockbroker-turned-serial-killer Patrick Bateman in the film adaptation of “American Psycho.” Interestingly, the studio attempted to swap Bale for his contemporary Leonardo DiCaprio, and Bale’s colleagues warned him that the controversial project might ruin his career.

This cult hit’s success allowed Bale to transition to bigger Hollywood fare, including the remake of “Shaft,” the post-apocalyptic action fantasy film “Reign of Fire,” and the dystopian sci-fi film “Equilibrium.”

In 2004, Bale once again shook audiences when he starred in the psychological thriller “The Machinist.” For his role as a drill press operator unable to sleep for an entire year, Bale dropped over 60 pounds by consuming a restrictive diet of only apples, tuna, coffee, whiskey and smokes.

The following year, Bale rebuilt his body and gained international stardom as the lead in Christopher Nolan’s attempt to restore a beloved film franchise: “Batman Begins.” He then re-teamed with the director for “The Prestige,” by playing a Victorian-era magician locked in a feud with Hugh Jackman.

In 2007, Bale starred opposite Russell Crowe in the western “3:10 to Yuma,” where he was charged with escorting a notorious outlaw to his prison transport. He then helped bring Bob Dylan’s life to the big screen in the biographical musical “I’m Not There.” In 2008, he reprised his Batman role in “The Dark Knight Rises,” which made one billion dollars at the box-office.

After that film’s release, Bale was arrested and acquitted of assault charges filed by his mother and sister. His reputed temper once again bubbled to the surface in a tirade during the shooting of “Terminator Salvation.”

Following this, Bale hunted Johnny Depp’s John Dillinger in “Public Enemies,” and earned a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as troubled former boxer Dicky Eklund in “The Fighter.”

In 2012, anxious fans were treated to Bale’s return for the final installment of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Christian Bale has become well-known for inhabiting his roles and staying in character throughout the filming process, as well as his talent for mimicking accents. This has allowed him to climb to the top of Hollywood, and thrill audiences like no one else.

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