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6 unforgettable Christian Bale transformations in anticipation of new movie Vice


This January, Christian Bale hits cinema screens in political comedy-drama Vice – and you've never seen him quite like this before.

Bale portrays Dick Cheney, who served as vice president under President George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell) and rose to become one of the most powerful men in America. Bale's transformation takes in Cheney at several stages of his life, but it's his portrayal of the older, greying, heavyset Cheney that is most startling – one would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the actor and the real person.

Bale is already the recipient of a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in Adam McKay's (The Big Short) must-see new movie. Rockwell and Amy Adams (who plays Cheney's wife Lynne) have also picked up nominations. (Unlimited members: click here to book for the Vice Unlimited screening on 16th January.)

Bale's new role is just the latest in a long line of cinematic transformations...

1. American Psycho (2000)

The studio may have had its eye on Leonardo DiCaprio for the role of Bret Easton Ellis's gym-honed, sharp-suited psychopath, but director Mary Harron knew Christian Bale was the only man for the part. He got himself into fantastic, mirror-adoring shape for the movie, achieving a lean but super-ripped physique that wouldn't look out of place on the front cover of Men's Health.

2. The Machinist (2004)

Bale shed so much weight for this gruelling drama about an insomniac who begins to lose his mind, that the film-makers actually had to stop him from losing more. In the end he dropped a staggering 62 pounds, living on a diet of coffee and apples (don't try it at home, kids). When filming was complete, Bale had only six months to get his weight back up before Batman Begins started shooting, a feat he achieved by binging on pizzas and ice cream.

3. Batman Begins (2005)

It's odd that Henry Cavill chose to bulk up so much to play Superman, as, given that Supes' powers are inherent in all Kryptonians, he could technically have the physique of Mackenzie Crook and still be able to lift a skyscraper with his finger. But Batman is a different kind of superhero (in that he doesn't actually have any superpowers) and so any actor chosen to play Bruce Wayne has to look like he could fend off an army of baddies and be feared by the criminal community.

And Christian Bale certainly looks invincible as Batman in this and its two sequels. Bale actually hired a personal trainer to help him gain 45kg for the role, only he gained so much weight that he couldn't fit into the batsuit, meaning he had to slim down again.

4. Rescue Dawn (2006)

Bale stars here as navy pilot Dieter Dengler, who gets shot down and trapped in Laos in Werner Herzog's dramatic true-life story. After the muscle gain of American Psycho and Batman Begins, it was back to the starvation diet for Bale on this one, losing 55 pounds to play Dengler as a prisoner of war.

5. The Fighter (2010)

In The Fighter, Bale plays Dicky Eklund, the older brother of professional welterweight boxer 'Irish' Micky Ward, played by the always-buff Mark Wahlberg. Unlike his younger brother, though, Dicky becomes a drug addict, which necessitated the ever-committed Bale to shrink himself to show the ravages of the drug on his character's body. The transformation wasn't as great as it was for The Machinist but it was impressive nonetheless and won Bale his first Oscar.

6. American Hustle (2014)

Ever since Robert De Niro piled on 60 pounds to play the middle-aged Jake La Motta in the later scenes of Raging Bull, many actors have used weight gains to signify their commitment to character. So it was that Christian Bale packed on 43 pounds to play the portly, toupeed con artist Irving Rosenfeld in David O Russell's American Hustle.

"I ate lots of doughnuts, a whole lot of cheeseburgers and whatever I could get my hands on," Bale admitted. "I literally ate anything that came my way." It's a hard job but someone's got to do it. 

So what do we need to know about Christian Bale's performance in Vice?

The normally slim, handsome Christian Bale wasn't an obvious choice to play the much older former Vice-President in this biopic of George W Bush's right-hand man Dick Cheney. How did he get to look so much like him then? Well, by shaving his head, bleaching his eyebrows, and gaining 40 pounds, that's how. Check out the incredible results in the trailer below.

Vice is released in Cineworld on 25th January 2019, so tweet us @Cineworld with your favourite Christian Bale transformations.