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Christian Charles Philip Bale was born on 30 January 1974 in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, to English parents--Jenny James, a circus performer, and David Bale, an entrepreneur and activist. Bale has remarked, "I was born in Wales but I'm not Welsh--I'm English." He has two elder sisters, Sharon and Louise, and a half-sister from his father's first marriage, Erin. One of his grandfathers was a stand-up comedian; the other was a stand-in for actor John Wayne. Bale and his family left Wales when he was two years old, and after living in Portugal and Oxfordshire, England, they settled in Bournemouth. In addition to saying that the family had lived in 15 towns by the time he was 15, Bale described the frequent relocation as being driven by "necessity rather than choice" and acknowledged that it had a major influence on his career selection. He attended Bournemouth School, later saying he left school at age 16. Bale's parents divorced in 1991, and at age 17, he moved with his sister Louise and their father to Los Angeles.
Bale trained in ballet as a child. His first acting role came at eight years old in a commercial for the fabric softener Lenor. He also appeared in a Pac-Man cereal commercial. After his sister was cast in a West Endmusical, Bale considered taking up acting professionally. He said later he did not find acting appealing but pursued it at the request of those around him because he had no reason not to do so. After participating in school plays, Bale performed opposite Rowan Atkinson in the play The Nerd in the West End in 1984. He did not receive any formal acting training.
2000-2004: Rise to prominence and commercial decline
Bale played serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, a film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' novel of the same name, directed by Mary Harron. While Harron had chosen Bale for the part, the film's production and distribution company, Lionsgate, originally disagreed and hired Leonardo DiCaprio to play Bateman with Oliver Stone to direct. Bale and Harron were brought back after DiCaprio and Stone left the project. Bale spent months tanning and exercising to achieve Bateman's sculpted physique. He also had his teeth capped to embody the character's narcissistic nature.American Psycho premiered at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, during which Anthony Kaufman of IndieWire rated it the most hated film at the event. Of Bale's work, Roger Ebert wrote he "is heroic in the way he allows the character to leap joyfully into despicability; there is no instinct for self-preservation here, and that is one mark of a good actor." The film was released in April 2000, becoming a commercial and critical success as well as developing a cult following; the role established Bale as a leading man.
Bale starred as the title character in the psychological thriller The Machinist. To prepare for the role, he initially only smoked cigarettes and drank whiskey. His diet later expanded to include black coffee, an apple and a can of tuna per day. Bale lost 63 pounds (29 kg), weighing 121 pounds (55 kg) to play the character, who was written in the script as "a walking skeleton". His weight loss prompted comparisons with Robert De Niro's weight gain in preparation to play Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film Raging Bull. Describing his transformation as mentally calming, Bale claimed he had not worked for a while because he hadn't come upon scripts that piqued his interest and that the film's script drew him to lose weight for the part.The Machinist was released in October 2004; it performed poorly at the box office. Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel regarded it as one of the best films of the year, and Todd McCarthy of Variety wrote that Bale's "haunted, aggressive and finally wrenching performance" gave it a "strong anchor".
Bale portrayed American billionaire Bruce Wayne and his superhero alias Batman in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, a reboot of the Batman film series. Nolan himself chose Bale, who was still fairly unknown, for the role. He regained the weight he lost for The Machinist and built muscle, weighing 220 pounds (100 kg) to play the character. He also trained in weapons, Wing Chun Kung Fu and the Keysi Fighting Method. Acknowledging the story's "funny, bizarre" circumstances involving a character "who thinks he can run around in a batsuit in the middle of the night", Bale said he and Nolan had deliberately approached it with "as realistic a motivation as possible", referencing Wayne's parents' murder. Bale voiced Wayne and Batman differently. He employed "guttural tones" for Batman, which Nolan said reinforced the character's visual appearance.Batman Begins was released in the US in June 2005. Tim Grierson and Will Leitch of Vulture complimented Bale's "sensitive, intelligent portrayal of a spoiled, wayward Bruce who finally grows up (and fights crime)." His performance earned him the MTV Movie Award for Best Hero.
For the 2006 film The Prestige, based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Priest about a rivalry between two Victorian era magicians, Bale reunited with Batman Begins director Nolan, who said that Bale was cast after offering himself for the part. While it attracted acclaim from critics, the film performed more modestly during its run in theatres, earning $110 million against a $40 million budget. In his review for The New York Times, A. O. Scott highlighted Bale's "fierce inwardness" and called his performance "something to savor". The actor next starred in the 2007 drama films I'm Not There, portraying two incarnations of singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and 3:10 to Yuma, playing a justice-seeking cattleman. He characterised his Dylan incarnations as "two men on a real quest for truth" and attributed his interest in 3:10 to Yuma to his affinity for films where he gets to "just be dirty and crawling in the mud". Bale reprised the role of Batman in the Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight, also directed by Nolan, which received acclaim and became the fourth film to gross more than $1 billion worldwide upon its July 2008 release. He did many of his own stunts, including one that involved standing on the roof of the Sears Tower in Chicago.The Dark Knight has been regarded as the best superhero film.
2009-2012: The Dark Knight trilogy completion and acclaim
In February 2008, Warner Bros. announced that Bale would star as rebel leader John Connor in the action film Terminator Salvation, directed by McG, who cited Bale as "the most credible actor of his generation". In February 2009, an audio recording of a tirade on the film's set in July 2008 involving Bale was released. It captured the actor directing profanities at Shane Hurlbut, the film's director of photography, after Hurlbut walked onto the set during a scene Bale was filming with Bryce Dallas Howard and also threatening to quit the film if Hurlbut was not fired. Actors Whoopi Goldberg, Terry Crews, Sharon Stone defended Bale attributing the incident to his dedication to acting; director Darren Aronofsky also defended him. Bale publicly apologised in February 2009, saying the outburst was "inexcusable" and admitting he was "way out of order". He added he and Hurlbut had completely resolved the matter and after seeing a rough cut of the film felt that Hurlbut had "done a wonderful job".Terminator Salvation was released in May 2009.Claudia Puig of USA Today found Bale's work to be "surprisingly one-dimensional", while The Ages Jake Wilson wrote the actor gave one of his least compelling performances.
Bale played Batman again in the sequel The Dark Knight Rises, released in July 2012, also directed by Christopher Nolan. He described Batman in the film as a remorseful recluse in poor mental and physical health, who has surrendered following the events of The Dark Knight. Following the shooting at a midnight showing of the film in Aurora, Colorado, Bale and his wife visited survivors, doctors and first responders at The Medical Center of Aurora as well as a memorial to victims.The Dark Knight Rises was the 11th film to gross more than $1 billion worldwide, surpassing The Dark Knight. Nolan's Batman film series, dubbed the Dark Knight trilogy, is one of the highest-grossing film franchises. It is regarded as one of the best comic book film franchises. Bale's performance in the three films garnered universal acclaim, and his portrayal of Batman has been ranked as the role's best by The Guardian and NME and in a poll conducted by Radio Times. Bale later revealed his dissatisfaction with his work as Batman, saying he "didn't quite nail" the role and that he "didn't quite manage" what he had hoped he would throughout the trilogy.
2013-2018: Continued critical success
In 2013, Bale played a steel mill worker in Scott Cooper's thriller Out of the Furnace. Cooper rewrote the film's script with Bale in mind before the two even met and would not proceed with the project without the actor's involvement. Critics viewed the film positively and believed it marked the beginning of the next phase in Bale's career after playing Batman in a great way, with Kristopher Tapley of Variety noting his performance in the film was his best. That same year, he starred in American Hustle, which reunited him with David O. Russell after their work on The Fighter. To play con artist Irving Rosenfeld, Bale studied footage of interviews with real-life con artist Mel Weinberg, who served as inspiration for the character. He gained 43 pounds (20 kg), shaved part of his head and adopted a slouched posture, which reduced his height by 3 inches (7.6 cm) and caused him to suffer a herniated disc. Russell indicated that Robert De Niro, who appeared in an uncredited role, did not recognise Bale when they were first introduced.New York Daily Newss Joe Neumaier found Bale's performance to be "sad, funny and riveting". He was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for his work.
In the 2016 historical drama The Promise, set during the Armenian Genocide, he played an American journalist who becomes involved in a love triangle with a woman, played by Charlotte Le Bon, and an Armenian medical student, played by Oscar Isaac. Critics disapproved of the film, which accrued a $102 million loss. Reviewing the film for The New York Times, Jeannette Catsoulis wrote that Bale appeared "muffled and indistinct". In Cooper's 2017 film Hostiles, Bale starred a US Army officer escorting a gravely ill Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their home in Montana. He calls the film "a western with brutal, modern-day resonance" and his character "a bigoted and hate-filled man". Bale learned some of the Cheyenne language while working on the film.Empire critic Dan Jolin considered the actor's "astounding" performance to be one of his career's strongest. In 2018, he voiced Bagheera in the adventure film Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. Rolling Stones David Fear wrote that the voice work of Bale and Andy Serkis, who also directed the film, "bring the soul as well as sound and fury".
For the 2018 biographical comedy-drama Vice, written and directed by Adam McKay, Bale underwent a major body transformation once again, as he gained over 40 pounds (18 kg) and shaved his head to portray former US Vice President Dick Cheney. The film reunited him with Amy Adams, with whom he had co-starred in The Fighter and American Hustle. It received positive reviews, and The Guardians Peter Bradshaw commended Bale's "terrifically and in fact rather scarily plausible" Cheney impersonation. Lauded by critics, his performance won him the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and garnered him an Academy Award nomination. During his acceptance speech at the 76th Golden Globe Awards, Bale thanked Satan for inspiring his Cheney portrayal, which elicited a response from Cheney's daughter and US RepresentativeLiz Cheney, who stated that Bale screwed up the opportunity to "play a real superhero". He then portrayed sports car racing driver Ken Miles in the 2019 sports drama Ford v Ferrari, directed by James Mangold, for which he lost 70 pounds (32 kg) after playing Cheney. The role earned him a fifth Golden Globe Award nomination. While promoting the film, Bale said he would no longer go through weight fluctuations for roles.
Bale is known for his "rigorous commitment" to the weight fluctuations that his roles demand as well as the "intensity with which he completely inhabits his roles", with The Washington Posts Ann Hornaday rating him among the most physically gifted actors of his generation. Max O'Connell of RogerEbert.com deemed Bale's commitment to altering his physical appearance "an anchoring facet to a depiction of obsession" in his performances, while the Los Angeles Timess Hugh Hart described Bale's acting style as "driven by Method-like intensity that convincingly animates even his most extreme physical transformations." Bale has stated that he does not practise method acting and that he does not employ a particular technique. He named Rowan Atkinson as his template as an actor and added that he was mesmerised by Atkinson when the two worked together. He also studied the work of Gary Oldman, crediting Oldman as the reason for his pursuit of acting.
Bale has been recognised for his versatility, with Martha Ross of The Mercury News naming him one of his generation's most versatile actors. Known to be very private about his personal life, Bale has said that his objective was to embody characters without showing any aspect of himself. He explained that "letting people know who you are" does not help create different characters, viewing anonymity as "what's giving you the ability to play those characters". During interviews to promote films in which he puts on an accent, Bale would continue speaking in the given accent. He has also been noted for portraying roles with an American accent. In real life, Bale speaks in an "emphatic, non-posh" English accent.
In 2011, Bale was featured on the Time 100 list, a compilation of the 100 most influential people in the world selected annually by Time magazine. He was ranked at number nine on Forbes magazine's list of the highest paid actors of 2014, earning $35 million. Bale has been described as a sex symbol.
Bale has lived in Los Angeles since the 1990s. He holds US citizenship. Bale married Sandra "Sibi" Bla?i?, a former model, in Las Vegas on 29 January 2000. The couple has a daughter and a son. In 2000, Bale became feminist Gloria Steinem's stepson following her marriage to his father, who died in 2003 of brain lymphoma.
On 22 July 2008, Bale was arrested in London after his mother and his sister Sharon reported him to the police for an alleged assault at a hotel. He was released on bail. Bale denied the allegations and later called the incident "a deeply personal matter". On 14 August, the Crown Prosecution Service declared they would take no further action against him because of "insufficient evidence to afford a realistic prospect of conviction".
Acting credits and accolades
According to the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, which assigns films scores based on the number of positive critical reviews they receive, Bale's highest-scoring films are The Dark Knight (2008), Ford v Ferrari (2019), American Hustle (2013), Little Women (1994), The Fighter (2010), Rescue Dawn (2007), 3:10 to Yuma (2007), The Big Short (2015), Howl's Moving Castle (2005) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012); the first, third and last of which are also listed by the data website The Numbers as his highest-grossing films, alongside Terminator Salvation (2009), Batman Begins (2005), Pocahontas (1995) and Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014).
Bale has garnered four Academy Award nominations, including two in the Best Actor category for his work in American Hustle and Vice (2018) as well as two in the Best Supporting Actor category for his work in The Fighter (2010) and The Big Short; he won one for The Fighter. He has also earned two Golden Globe Awards, including Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture for his role in The Fighter and Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his role in Vice, and received two nominations for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his performances in American Hustle and The Big Short and a nomination for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama for his performance in Ford v Ferrari.