Christian Bale Starved Himself On Tuna and Apples For His Most Acclaimed Role

Christian Bale is one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors and has been for years. He can star in a compelling, indie drama or a big-budget blockbuster and do great work in either setting. He’s been making movies since childhood, so at this point, he clearly knows what he’s doing. Bale also has a penchant for changing his body for some roles to a rather extreme degree. One part forced him to adopt the drastic habit of eating nothing but tuna and apples. But which movie caused him to have to do that? 

Christian Bale’s career overview

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According to Bale’s IMDB profile, he was born in 1974, meant he made his debut on-screen around the age of 12 in 1986. Bale’s first acclaimed role was Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun.

In 1992, he got the starring role in Disney’s musical comedy Newsies. Since then, Bale’s oeuvre represents an eclectic mix of roles in films such as: 

  • American Psycho as Patrick Bateman, a yuppie psychopath serial killer
  • Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series as Batman/Bruce Wayne
  • Terminator: Salvation as John Conner
  • American Hustle as Irving Rosenfeld
  • Ford v Ferrari as race car driver Ken Miles

As you can tell from the roles listed, Bale has some serious range. This is certainly due to his acting ability itself, which is considerable. But what colors Bale’s performances is his dedication to each role he takes on. He commits fully to each one, attempting to top each performance.

He also uses his body as an instrument and puts it through major changes if required. 

The dedication of Christian Bale

Christian Bale | Getty Images

Bale is known for his dedication to his roles as well his willingness to transform his body to ridiculous extremes. For example, in the film American Psycho, he got in ridiculously good shape.

For the Batman series, he needed to be muscular — to the level of a superhero. In the film Vice, Bale played former vice president Dick Cheney. Along with wearing makeup that made him appear much older than he was, he gained a significant amount of weight for that film. He also gained weight for David O. Russell’s American Hustle

It’s never clear what Bale’s body is going to look like from year to year — it all depends on the characters he’s playing. One thing is for sure, however: he’s willing to do just about anything for the right script.

But what role confined him to a limited diet of canned seafood and a single piece of fruit each day? 

The role Christian Bale starved himself on tuna and apples for

According to Men’s Health, Bale dropped more than 50 pounds to prepare for a role in the 2004 mystery The Machinist. In the film, Bale portrays a factory worker who’s being followed by a mysterious man, causing him to forego all sleep and drop a large amount of weight.

In order to assume the gaunt figure required for the character, Bale went on a strict diet of apples and tuna out of the can for months on end. When shooting wrapped, he lifted weights and binged on pizza and ice cream to gain back the muscle mass he needed to portray Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. 

This role may be Bale’s most stunning transformation, though he’s had plenty of them in his career. According to an interview Bale conducted with E!, his days of transforming his body may be at an end: 

“I’ve become a little bit more boring now, because I’m older and I feel like if I keep doing what I’ve done in the past I’m going to die. So, I’d prefer not to die.”

Bale may not be as willing to gain and lose so much weight, but there’s no doubt his performances will still be solid. He’s almost incapable of turning in a bad one at this point in his career.