Christian Bale’s Extra Gym Time Secured Him a Role Leonardo DiCaprio Nearly Stole From Him

Christian Bale is known for transforming his body for roles. His dedication to the craft keeps his fans coming back for more. Bale perfected his body for Batmanand destroyed it for roles like ViceIn fact, Bale built his career on being able to transform, physically and otherwise, into his characters. His first mainstream role was in American Psycho. Bale already had a promising acting career when he landed the role, but the movie propelled him to superstardom. Interestingly, Bale started perfecting his physique before he was officially hired for the project. 

Christian Bale smiling in front of a blurred black and white background
Christian Bale | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Christian Bale was fired from ‘American Psycho’

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Technically, Bale was fired from American Psycho. The movie was a big, mainstream project. The producers wanted a big, mainstream name for the role. Bale had a resume, but it wasn’t as impressive as some of his Hollywood contemporaries. He was hired when their first choice, Leonardo DiCaprio, wasn’t available. However, when DiCaprio’s schedule opened up, Bale got the slip. 

Even though he was officially off the project, Bale kept going to the gym. He never stopped preparing for the role, even though he had been fired. Bale told The Wall Street Journal that he just didn’t accept the part wasn’t his. “I’m English, so I never go to a gym, but for that role, it was part of the whole deal that I had to go. I still kept going down to the gym every day because I was going, ‘Oh, I’m making the film.'” He ended up being right. At some point, DiCaprio backed out, and producers came back to Bale. Luckily, he was prepared. 

‘American Psycho’ wasn’t Christian Bale’s first gig 

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American Psycho is one of Bale’s mainstream breakout roles, but he had a long resume before landing the part. According to Biography, Bale was a child actor and began his career in commercials. He starred in a critically-acclaimed stage play. Then in 1987, Steven Spielberg cast him in Empire of the SunBale won awards for his performance but wasn’t comfortable with the level of fame the movie brought him. He would often just up and leave press conferences and promotional events. This was the first hint that for Bale, craft has always been the most important part of acting. 

He had a few other roles in movies, including Disney’s most famous flop, Newsies. American Psycho, which came out in 2000, would be Bale’s first role as a leading man instead of a supporting actor. It would also be the first time he transformed himself for a role, but not the last. 

Christian Bale is known for transforming himself for his roles 

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Right after American Psycho’s debut, Bale began another transformation. He lost 60 pounds to play the lead in The Machinist. He would sometimes eat only an apple and a latte all day in an attempt to drop the muscle he’d built for American Psycho. The Machinist came out in 2004, and Bale got to work on yet another transformation. 

In 2005, Bale was cast in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins as the masked man himself. Bale’s version of Batman was perfectly chiseled. In the short time between The Machinist and Batman Begins, Bale pushed his body from underweight and sickly to superhero. That would be his last significant transformation for a while, partly perhaps because he signed on to two more Batman movies with Nolan. 

Bale was completely unrecognizable in American Hustle, which came out in 2014. This time instead of losing or forming his body, Bale gained weight. He reportedly put on 40 pounds. His dedication to the craft netted him an Oscar nomination. His most recent transformation can be seen in Vicewhere Bale plays Vice President Dick Cheney himself. He again gained around 40 pounds for the film.