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?