Happy 37th Birthday, Christian Bale!

Christian Charles Philip Bale turns 37 today!

I’ve always been a fan of his work for the last two decades. Out of about 34 feature films he has done so far, I’ve seen 20 of them, even the ones that I normally would never see (American Psycho). I can’t exactly remember what was the first movie I saw him in, it could’ve been Little Women or Swing Kids, but two of his most memorable characters share similar moniker, but who couldn’t be more different from each other: American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman and Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman. Aside from both of them being wealthy blokes, Bateman is the ultimate antihero, a complete contrast to Batman’s altruistic tendencies, yet Bale play them both so convincingly.

Bale in The New World

Batman certainly made him a household name, but what I love about Bale is that even with his A-list status, he still didn’t shy away from small roles. Between the first two Batman films, he didn’t always play the lead in his movies, in fact, in many of them, he was ‘second banana‘ to other A-listers (Public Enemies, 3:10 to Yuma), even taking on a small role in The New World so he could work with well-respected director Terrence Malick. He strikes me as someone who’s really concerned about his craft, instead of being in the business for the fame and fortune. Of course a lot of actors often say that, but Bale is perhaps the only one whose words I could take stock on. Some people might say he’s ‘difficult’ or have an attitude (which is understandable judging from this recent Esquire interview), but I think he’s just really, really uncomfortable about the fame part of his profession. That’s why you never see him do the Late Night rounds. So far the only Late Night interview I could find on YouTube was on Craig Killborn back in 2002! It’s rare to see Bale in such good spirits, but of course his defiant nature still shows up at the end, which I thought is the best part of the show.

There’s so much to admire in this guy… his talent and good looks obviously, but it’s his dedication to each and every one of his roles. I don’t know any other actor who’s willing to endure constant physical transformation like he did, as displayed in this infographic. Besides the shape shifting ability, he’s also got a knack for accent. Not only can this Welsh actor do both British and American accent well, he even does a variety of American accents, with a Southern drawl in 3:10 to Yuma, Boston accent in The Fighter, etc. To say he’s a versatile actor might not get a lot of arguments from people, though I personally hope he would take a bit of a break from all those dark roles (he’s rumored to do Stephen King’s adaptation The Dark Tower after Batman 3) and do something lighthearted for once. Just look at this filmography, just the last decade alone, the only character who I can describe as a happy guy is probably John Rolfe in The New World, but he’s only got about 20-minute or so screen time! He himself admits that he’s drawn to ‘obsessive roles’ because, “… well, who isn’t?” he asked Charlie Rose in one of the interviews promoting Rescue Dawn, “Because obsessive people tend to do extraordinary things.”

Well, I still hold on to hope that one day he’ll do an unabashedly romantic film. No, I’m not talking about rom-com, but a sweeping drama that’s inherently a love story (something like The Painted Veil?). Anyway, I was going to do my Top Ten Christian Bale movies, but since I have yet to see The Machinist and a couple other important ones, I’d wait until I do. For now, I’d turn it over to you dear readers:

What are your favorite Christian Bale movies?

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37 thoughts on “Happy 37th Birthday, Christian Bale!

  1. The Prestige, and (surprise, surprise) 3:10 to Yuma. Ooh! And A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He was a very good Demetrius.

    RTM, have you seen Reign of Fire? Is it awful? It’s on my Netflix queue …

    • I don’t know much about Dark Tower stuff, but from what I heard he and Bardem are still up for the same lead role.

      Yes I have seen Reign of Fire as that also stars Gerry Butler as Bale’s BFF… now, there is no way I’d miss that movie with both of ‘em in it :D Well, let’s just say the movie is not Bale’s nor Butler’s best work, ahah, nor McCoughnahey’s for that matter but still better than most of his rom-coms. I’d still check it out though, even just for Bale and Butler. Man, if only they’d star in a movie together again [le sigh]

      • Yeah, I’m still gonna watch it for the GB love.

        RE: The Dark Tower, it actually appears that they are looking at different roles, although as I understand it, Bardem would actually be the main character. Interesting, either way …

        • Yep, lots of dragons and they’re actually quite pretty. GB is just sooo cute in this, kind of a comic relief while Bale is always so serious.

          Oh, so there’s a possibility Bale and Bardem would be starring in Dark Tower together then? That’d be interesting for sure.

  2. Congrats to CB for his SAG award for The Fighter, and on his birthday, nonetheless! Talk about double-dipping… ;-D

  3. Well of course the two Batman films are two of my favorites his work. I also like his first role in Empire of the Sun, he was only 12 years old at the time and he actually carried the movie. Another role I thought he was great in was the Shaft remake where he was the racist bad guy in the movie.

    I think he’ll be good in The Dark Tower but I prefer another actor for that role, someone like Clive Owen. I do hope Bardem turns down the offer he got from Howard, he’s not right for that part at all.

    • Yeah, those two would be quite high on my list. I REALLY need to check out Empire of the Sun in its entirety. I only saw bits and pieces of it. I heard in an interview somewhere that Bale was ‘honored’ that Samuel L. Jackson called him a mo-fo in that movie, ahah.

      I can’t say anything about Dark Tower as I don’t know much about it, so I’ll take your word for it, Ted.

  4. EQUILIBRIUM and REIGN OF FIRE would be my favourite films from Bale :)
    Did you know that his wife Bibi is from Serbia? :)

    PS don’t forget to visit my place today, Flixy!

    • Yeah I know, I think her name is Sibi Blazic :D They always look so happy together, which is great to see in Hollywood.

      We’re both excited for Cavill, Dezzy… so yeah, I’ve already commented on your post.

  5. Only 37?!?!? Amazing body of work. My favorite by far was “The Machinist”. Touching surprise ending. I still have to see “The Fighter”. Been too busy lately to even see anything except for pay-for-view flicks :-(

    • I know! I thought the same thing myself when I saw that he’s only 37. He does still look very youthful, it’s just his demeanor makes me think he’s a bit older. Yeah I know, I still gotta see The Machinist. Hope you get to see The Fighter soon, this is FINALLY his year as he just won SAG award last night.

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    • LOVE BB and Yuma. I don’t know how Empire of the Sun escapes me but it’s on my Netflix now. He’s so good in Swing Kids as well… boy wouldn’t it be nice to see Bale singing and dancing on screen again :D

  8. He’s a terrific actor but I do find it rather difficult to like him off-screen. But then again that shouldn’t and doesn’t take anything way from what he does on it – he’s brilliant in American Psycho, The Machinist, and The Prestige.

    • My colleague was telling me the same thing just now. I guess I always think of him as ‘misunderstood.’ Though I do think he has temper issues, I don’t think he’s a jerk. I feel the same way about Russell Crowe. But yeah, it doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s a brilliant actor.

  9. I’m a huge fan of Bale. The Machinist and American Psycho were the two where I realized just how good of an actor he is (even if I thought The Machinist was only an average movie). That’s the thing in general… even when is movies are mediocre, he’s still good in them.

    He was a trip in “I’m Not There” as Bob Dylan.

    • Yep, he’s definitely got the screen presence that can elevate any movie. I wouldn’t have watched Equilibrium if it weren’t for him. Sadly his co-star was Taye Diggs :(

  10. He gets a lot of hate because of stunts he has done behind closed doors, but I can’t resist his honestly amazing performances in films like American Psycho, The Prestige, The Machinist, and most recently The Fighter. I cannot wait to see him win that Oscar, he deserves it so much.

  11. Excellent post for Bale’s birthday, Ruth. Totally agree with everything you say about him. He strikes me as the kind of actor who thoroughly enjoys his work and puts his everything into every single role he gets. No matter how small. He comes across really well in interviews, to me. Very honest. Maybe sometimes lacking a bit of polish, but that’s what I like about him.

    Favourite roles? That’s tricky. Excellent in Rescue Dawn, Batman (of course), The Machinist, The Fighter. Fantastic British actor.

    • Thanks Jaina! I missed this year’s tribute, I realized it too late yesterday. Yeah, Bale is such a dedicated actor, pair that with good looks and immense talent and you’ve got someone real special. I do like actors who aren’t too comfortable in interviews, I think he doesn’t like to kiss @$$ to sell his movies, which can be a good thing. I still hope he’d do a romance or something lighthearted, he seems too intense at times in all the roles he does.

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