Christian Bale: How Tom Cruise Inspired His Role in ‘American Psycho’

Horror films rarely earn major awards for acting. However, certain horror films are famous for featuring great performances. One of these films is American Psycho, which features a renowned performance from Christian Bale.

Adapted from the Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name, American Psycho garnered a mixed reception from critics. However, both its fans and detractors lauded Bale’s performance as the film’s title character, Patrick Bateman. Here’s how Tom Cruise’s appearance on David Letterman’s show inspired Bale’s performance – and the legacy of that acclaimed performance.

Tom Cruise in sunglasses | Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

The inspiration behind Christian Bale’s performance in ‘American Psycho’

Bateman is a shallow, violent man. He has no greater concern than being successful. He is designed as a grotesque parody of the archetypal 1980s yuppie. It only makes sense that Cruise — a star of many successful 1980s popcorn movies — inspired Bale’s portrayal of the character.

Mary Heron directed the film. She revealed that Bale was inspired by Cruise’s “energy.” According to /Film, she said: “We talked about how Martian-like Patrick Bateman was, how he was looking at the world like somebody from another planet, watching what people did and trying to work out the right way to behave. And then one day he called me and he had been watching Tom Cruise on David Letterman, and he just had this very intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes, and he was really taken with this energy.”

Christian Bale in American Psycho | Lion’s Gate/Getty Images

RELATED: Rob Lowe Tells of Tom Cruise’s ‘Gnarly’ Response at Having to Share a Hotel Room When Filming ‘The Outsiders’

Cruise actually appears in the novel American Psycho briefly. Cruise lives in the same apartment as Bateman. The two even bump into each other at one point. Heron didn’t mention if this minor element of the novel influenced Bale’s performance at all, but it remains an interesting bit of trivia.

Bale felt it simply made sense for Bateman to be a bit like Cruise. Bale felt that someone like Bateman would have modeled himself on Cruise. According to GQ, Bale said “I mean, look, if someone had landed at that time and he was looking around for cultural alpha males, business-world alpha males, et cetera, then Tom Cruise certainly would have been one of those that he would have looked at and aspired to be and attempted to emulate.”

The legacy of the Tom Cruise- ‘American Psycho’ connection

Tom Cruise in a suit | Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

RELATED: Why Tom Cruise Didn’t Star in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’

What does Cruise think of his connection to American Psycho? We don’t know. In 2016, Ellis gave an interview with Kory Grow of Rolling Stone. Grow asked Ellis if Cruise had given him any feedback on American Psycho. Ellis said he had never heard from Cruise.

Regardless, the Cruise-Bateman connection has lived on in the memory of fans. Dread Central reports that a YouTuber used deep fake technology in order to replace Bale in a scene of American Psycho with Cruise. The clip gives us a peek into an interesting alternate reality where Cruise starred in the movie.

Also see: The Real Reason Christian Bale Stopped Playing Batman