Christian Bale has been pretty smart about choosing movie roles. Not all of them — *cough, cough, Exodus: Gods and Kings — but most of them, anyway. He hasn’t landed every part he’s gone after, however. Sometimes due to being difficult to work with and sometimes because he was bested by his Hollywood nemesis — Leonardo DiCaprio.
The actor is celebrating a birthday — he turns 41 today — and to mark the occasion we’re looking back at a few roles the actor turned down and a few that he shot for and missed.
1. Titanic (1997) — In 2012, Bale’s former publicist, Harrison Cheung, released a tell-all book and revealed that for around a decade Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio pretty much hated each other. It started when Bale lost What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and carried on through Romeo + Juliet (Bale actually auditioned for the part of Mercutio, which went to Harold Perrineau, but Leo was in the movie and that really burned Bale up). Perhaps the biggest upset, though, was losing the part of Jack in Titanic. James Cameron simply didn’t want two Brits playing two leads that were supposed to be American.
2. Three Kings (1999) — Director David O. Russell had always wanted his buddy Spike Jonze for the part of Conrad Vig, but agreed to meet with Bale to satisfy the studio even though he had no intention of hiring the actor. The director later recounted talking with Bale during The Fighter and how much he offended the actor years earlier.
“He said ‘You were very insulting to me’ and I asked ‘How was I insulting?’ and he said ‘You told me to speak like Macaulay Culkin.’ And I remembered there was a reason for that, because he came in with his Batman voice.”
3. The Rules of Attraction (2002) — Bale’s ax-swinging character Patrick Bateman makes a brief cameo in Bret Easton Ellis’ book Rules of Attraction when Sean Bateman calls his brother in New York. The film adaptation of American Psycho was such a hit that both the studio and Ellis wanted to work Bale into the film version of Rules. Bale turned down the cameo and Casper Van Dien provided the voice on the other end of the line instead.
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) — Bale was considered for the part of Will Turner along with Jude Law, Ewan McGregor, and Tobey Maguire, but ultimately the producers plucked Orlando Bloom off the wave of popularity he was riding from the Lord of the Rings films.