|Real Name: Christian Morgan Bale|
Even with having all the needed tools to become a celebrity, Christian Bale was missing one important component at the beginning of his career: open-mindedness for being in the limelight. After gaining instantaneous celebrity status when hired by Steven Spielberg to star in his film, “Empire of the Sun” with Ben Stiller (1987), Bale rapidly discovered that he hated dealing with public relations. Instead of acting his way through interviews and press meetings, he emotionally shut down, sometimes sitting through a full session without answering a single question, and sometimes not participating at all.
But as matured as an actor, he understood that the promotion and marketing of acting was fundamental to his success, so he became more relaxed with every new career landmark, “Little Women” (1994) with Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst and Susan Sarandon, “American Psycho” with Reese Witherspoon (2000) and “Batman Begins” with Katie Holmes (2005).
Born on Jan. 30, 1974 in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, he grew up in Portugal and an assortment of villages around England before ultimately landing in Bournemouth, Dorset, England. He was introduced to life in the movie business from the beginning, one grandfather was a cabaret style stand-up comedian, the other grandfather a stand-in for John Wayne on multiple film productions. His mother, Jane, was also in the industry, working as a musician and a circus entertainer. His father David was an industrialist, environmentalist and animal rights advocate who brought young Christian to Save the Whale events.
But it was his older sister, Louise, who got his curiosity pointed toward acting, she started in the business when he was young; unsurprisingly, he followed her into it. He began his career as a child actor, making his debut when he was nine years old in British television commercials, including one for Pac-Man breakfast cereal. He made the changeover to stage and film, performing next Rowan Atkinson in a West End creation of “The Nerd” (1984) and on the BBC miniseries “Heart of the Country” (1987). He also made his United States television debut with a supporting part in the multi part miniseries, “Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna” (1986).
By the time he was 13, Christian was enrolled in the Bournemouth School for Boys, though keeping up with his school work while also acting proved difficult. His entire life changed, however, when he was chosen by Steven Spielberg out of 4,000 other actors to play Jim Graham, a soft, upper-class British youngster living in China, in “Empire of the Sun.” Appearing in the majority of the scenes, no tiny task for one so immature, he handed in a full-grown performance and was instantly seen as the next big thing. Being shoved into the public eye had a severely philosophical effect on the budding thespian, who unexpectedly found himself withdrawing from media interviews and promotional events.
The weight of being a sudden movie star proved to be too much, especially after “Empire of the Sun” doing second-rate business at the box office. He was confronted by a local tabloid for blowing off an interview. All he wanted to do was get out of the way of the attention and hype.
Soon after he was done with “Empire of the Sun,” his parents divorced, discouraging him on the concept of marriage. For the time being, he lost his desire to act, thanks to his time spent in public view as a celebrity. But the temptation was fueled again when Kenneth Branagh swayed him to play a small role opposite Falstaff (Robbie Coltrane) in the director’s brilliant analysis of Shakespeare’s “Henry V” (1989). He next starred opposite Charlton Heston as Jim Hawkins in the adeptly made television variation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island” (TNT, 1990).
Two years later, he made the bad decision to star in his first musical, “Newsies” (1992), a bad Disney movie that told the true story of an 1899 strike by newspaper boys alongside publishing mogul Joseph Pulitzer. He hated musicals and asserted he had no idea how he became caught up in one. The movie became one of the few flubs of Bale’s career.
Regardless of previous reservations about being an actor, he had focused on improving his image, though he did try to stay away from publicity for his projects. He tried again at musicals with “Swing Kids” starring Noah Wyle (1993), playing a young teen boy in pre-war Nazi Germany who, along with his cronies, is preoccupied with American jazz music while under pressure to deal with rising tyranny and looming war.
He then played the lead role of Amled in “Royal Deceit” (1994), which was built around the narrative by Saxo Grammaticus, soon after adapted into Hamlet by William Shakespeare. But it was his role as the affluent and feisty Laurie, neighbor to the March sisters, in Gillian Armstrong's version of "Little Women" that permitted audiences to fully hold on to Christian Bale. Offering a compelling and active male presence to the female fueled proceedings, he found himself unexpectedly wearing the "superstar” moniker. Thanks to emotional women in the audience, his career was rejuvenated after his relative slow down after “Empire of the Sun.”
As the 1990s came to a close, he tried to move away from the juvenile typecasting of his early days. Trying not to repeat himself, he played an emotionally disabled teen in "The Secret Agent" with Robin Williams and Patricia Arquette (1996), which he followed with a role as a young lover in Jane Campion's "Portrait of a Lady" with Nicole Kidman (1996). Playing his first adult role, he starred as a married man curious about his life choices in "Metroland" (1997), a sad drama that demanded he play the lead male character at three stages in his life.
He managed an equal success in "Velvet Goldmine" (1998), playing both a reporter investigating the unexplained disappearance of a past rock star (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) while playing his younger brother who idolized the musician as a young boy.
After the role as the brawny Demetrius in "William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1999) with Michelle Pfieffer and Calista Flockhart, he gave a great performance as a mildly handicapped young boy in the fantasy tale "All the Little Animals" (1999).
Christian next played his most difficult role, playing Wall Street stockbroker and serial killer Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho" along side Reese Witherspoon. The casting ignited debate before a single scene of the movie was shot. Director Mary Harron had picked Bale for the lead role, but Lion's Gate Films wanted famous celebrities instead. At one point, Leonardo DiCaprio and director Oliver Stone were interested, but a production budget that had grown to over $40 million changed the studio’s mind.
Before production began in Toronto, victims rights groups tried to stop the city from issuing filming and production permits as the original book purportedly served as an encouragement for a Canadian serial killer. Meanwhile, the actor encountered a media frenzy that said the role would be "the end of the line" for his career, either he would be seen as a sparkling actor or his career may never pull through. But it was a threat he was willing to take.
Bale then portrayed Jesus in the biblical production, "Mary, Mother of Jesus" (1999), co-starring Pernilla August as Mary. He then moved on to supporting roles in two dull, low budget movies, John Singelton's remake of "Shaft" (2000) with Samuel L. Jackson and "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" (2001) starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz. He then appeared in the moderate box office hit playing the dragon fighter Quinn in the movie "Reign of Fire" (2002) with Matthew McConaughey. Next, he was cast in the boring science fiction tale "Equilibrium" (2002) which costarred Emily Watson. The film was released with almost no advertisement or hype, and to poor reviews and media feedback.
He did better in the captivating independent production "Laurel Canyon" with (2003), believably playing a Los Angeles born doctor, and the son of an over the top music producer (Frances McDormand) who returns to the prosperous canyon community he has grown to look down upon with his fiancée (Kate Beckinsale). His next film was the peculiar thriller "The Machinist" with Jennifer Jason Leigh (2004), where he played a drill press operator who grows emaciated after not sleeping for ten months. He lost 63 pounds for the role by drinking booze and eating diet pills, a true testimony to his commitment for the art.
He built his body back into super hero shape and shot to worldwide celebrity status when he was hired by director Christopher Nolan to star in "Batman Begins” with Katie Holmes and Morgan Freeman, a serious makeover of the old franchise that investigated the beginnings of the Dark Knight in the beginning days as super hero. Christian was the most comic book true Batman so far, credibly playing both his terrifying bad guy fighting alter ego, and the ruined civic persona of Bruce Wayne.
He was slated to get the role opposite Heath Ledger and Morgan Freeman as The Joker in Nolan's sequel, "The Dark Knight" in 2008. Bale then starred in Terrance Malick’s “The New World” (2005), a romantic look at the settlement at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, and the resulting love affair between Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) and a young Native American girl, Pocahontas (Q’Orianka Kilcher). He played John Rolfe, a tobacco grower and industrialist who marries Pocahontas after the rumored death of Smith and brings her home to England where she’s treated as royalty.
He then starred in “The Prestige” with Scarlett Johansson (2006), playing an ambiguous, but dazzling magician occupied in a game of "keep up with the Jones" with his agile, and more stylish challenger (Hugh Jackman). Their competition starts off friendly, but an illusion that goes terribly awry forces them to become bitter enemies, sending both down a path of a vicious struggle that may end in death.
Then in “Harsh Times” (2006), he was a Gulf War veteran under pressure to handle post service life while hoping to become a cap. His dream starts to fall away, however, when he joins his best friend (Freddy Rodriguez) on a brutal charge through South Central Los Angeles that ultimately has dreadful results.
Meanwhile, he played Dieter Dengler in “Rescue Dawn” (2006), a fact based story of the German pilot whose attraction to flying planes leads him to join the Air Force during Vietnam, where he shot down during his first mission and detained by the Vietcong. Directed by Werner Herzog, “Rescue Dawn” put the actor through the paces in the jungles of Thailand, where he worked and lived in harsh conditions, exhausting takes and film crew problems.
In “3:10 to Yuma” (2007), a Hollywood attempt to revitalize the western cowboy audience, he played a rancher down on his luck, who agrees to deliver a dishonorable criminal (Russell Crowe) to prison in an effort to earn money to support his family. But the prisoner has other ideas, enticing the rancher into releasing him in a swap for a share of hidden money worth millions.
For a change of pace, he next joined Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and Cate Blanchett, to emerge as Bob Dylan at different stages of his career in “I’m Not There” (2007). He played the solemn folk singer who ultimately was reborn as a religious holy man.
Next was "Public Enemies" (2009) starring Johnny Depp, about the Feds trying to take down a notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave in the 1930s. Then he starred as an older John Conner in the action-thriller "Terminator 4" (2009), where the story picks up after Skynet has destroyed much of humanity in a nuclear holocaust, a group of survivors led by John Connor struggles to keep the machines from finishing the job.
He wrapped his year in the action-drama "Killing
Pablo" (2009), the true story of how the Colombian gangster, Pablo
Escobar, was assassinated and his Medellin cocaine cartel dismantled by US
special forces and intelligence, the Colombian military, and a vigilante
gang controlled by the Cali cartel.