Christian Bale is one of the rare specimens in Hollywood who can reconstruct his appearance with every single role, because, well, that’s kind of his gimmick now. From emaciated to jacked, there’s not one body type Bale can’t do. I’ve braved the chesty, distended, and frail travelogs of Bale’s transformations to bring you a comprehensive look at this English chameleon whose form has become as elasticized as a rubber band.
Empire of the Sun (1987)
We all have to start somewhere, and before Bale hit the gym to become a beefy Bruce Wayne, and before he starved himself to become a disgustingly skeletal night terror, he was just a normal teenaged boy. A normal teenaged boy starring in a film by one of the most successful director/producers (Steven Spielberg) of all time. Yup, totally normal stuff I’m sure we can all relate to.
Swing Kids (1993)
Peanut butter and jelly. Cookies and milk. Nazis and swing music. All of these things could not do without the other. Anyway, we’re here to talk about Christian Bale’s abs, and it’s not clear whether he’s developed any yet at the end of his teenage years, but he’s looks to be in normal fighting shape.
Velvet Goldmine (1998)
Alright, the soon-to-be-Psycho is finally hitting the gym, getting his weight up. Standing next to director Todd Haynes — or an Eddie Izzard doppelgänger — he looks like Mr. Universe, but that seems rather easy. Moving on…
American Psycho (2000)
This may be Bale at his most shredded as it looks like he has .0001% body fat. We’ll call this the beginning of the yo-yo years, which — to this day — have not ceased. How many ladies want to re-purpose those tighty-whities into a shower cap?
Reign of Fire (2002)
In a film starring Bale and Matthew McConaughey (also a weight fluctuating prophet from the future) as two really fit badasses fighting dragons, it’s hard to tell which actor is testing my heterosexuality more. Perhaps it’s the whole dragons concept that’s really putting the squeeze on? Not sure, but Bale looks like he put on a little more size here, which must be just great to do whenever you please. “Oi! I think I should put on 10 kg. of muscle for this one,” said no one not never.
The Machinist (2004)
No, you’re not on a bad ayahuasca trip. And, yes, Christian Bale is exactly what your tour guide to hell would look like, so good luck sleeping. Bale famously lost 63 pounds for this role, effectively cementing his status as the human Stretch Armstrong. Skeletal Bale just wants a hug. Go hug bony Bale. Just don’t squeeze too tight.
Batman Begins (2005)
After weighing approximately 120 lbs. for The Machinist, Bale bulked up to 220 lbs. in six months for his role as Batman. Apparently, this was too large, so he just dropped 20 lbs. I imagine that when Bale left his trailer every morning to film scenes he had this song playing in his head:
Rescue Dawn (2006)
Losing 63 lbs. for a role seemed like a hard weight cut for Bale, so he just scaled back his aspirations for his next emaciated performance by only dropping 55 lbs. In this one, he plays a man named Dieter. I believe that’s called irony.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Warner Herzog was nice enough to film Rescue Dawn in reverse sequence so Bale could lose the weight before filming, then quietly eat Butterscotch Krimpets at the Kraft Services truck throughout the shoot. So, by the end of the shoot, he was back to normal weight. For his second go around as Bruce Wayne, he put on the mask and got on the bench. Because, Batman does weight for reps and doesn’t need Alfred to spot him.
The Fighter (2010)
Bale doesn’t always play a crackhead, but when he does, he makes sure he looks the part. To look like the real-life Dicky Eklund, he lost 30 lbs. for the role, which is nothing. At this point, Bale can do that by breaking wind after eating an egg-white frittata.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
For his last trip to the Batcave, Bale bulked up once again, proving that he’s either one of the greatest physical specimens of all-time, or he’s on the same muscle-sauce every pro wrestler used in the 70s and 80s. I think I might go with the latter, but don’t tell Batman I said that. We all know how he gets when he’s upset.
Out of the Furnace (2013)
Seriously? How has this guy’s kidneys and liver not shut down yet?
American Hustle (2013)
“At one point I said enough already,” David O. Russell said in an interview with USA Today. “He lost three inches of height, and even got a herniated disc.”
See? Even the guy who was like, “Hey, you should gain some weight for this,” was eventually like, “Jayzus! Calm the f*ck down!”
Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
Despite this film having a title that sounds like a video game, Bale finally looks like how a 40-year old man should look. He’s not too fat, not too skinny, not too jacked; he’s Goldilocking that sh*t. Of course, this will all change when he plays a young Lou Ferrigno in two years and begins mainlining bull semen.