Why Christian Bale Hated Getting in Shape for ‘American Psycho’

Christian Bale has a long history of changing his body to suit a movie he’s working on. The Oscar-winning actor doesn’t hesitate to put on a ton of extra weight or become wildly thin to play a specific character. One of the earliest instances of this dedication was his role in 2000’s American Psycho. And Bale has spoken out about how much he hated the process of getting in shape to play Patrick Bateman. Here’s why.

Christian Bale sits and smiles | Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images
Christian Bale | Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

Christian Bale has a habit of putting on and losing weight

Bale’s most famous instance of weight loss came in 2004’s The Machinist. In that film, the actor plays a factory worker struggling with insomnia. And though the movie is one of the most underrated entries in Bale’s filmography, he has since committed to drastic weight changes on subsequent projects.

Bale put on some extra weight for his Oscar-nominated roles in 2013’s American Hustle and 2018’s Vice. And immediately after The Machinist, Bale built up his muscular physique for his most famous role as Bruce Wayne aka Batman in 2005’s Batman Begins. But American Psycho was his first time getting fit for a role.

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The actor resented having to work out for this role

According to the 2012 book ​​​​Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman by Harrison Cheung and Nicola Pittam, Bale struggled with getting in shape to play Patrick Bateman. It wasn’t so much that he couldn’t put on the muscle to play the character. But he simply didn’t enjoy it.

“[Patrick Bateman] is so vain and obsessed with his looks. While the psychology of the character was something that I could perform, you can’t fake the physicality. Working out is incredibly boring. I swear it’s true that the bigger your muscles get, the fewer brain cells you have. I found I had to stop thinking when I was in the gym because if I thought about it, I’d realize how ridiculous it was that I was pumping iron when I could’ve been out having a drink and a cigarette and enjoying some lunch. I did three hours a day for six weeks with a personal trainer and some time before that. I ate an awful lot during training and then almost nothing during filming.”

As it turns out, that extra bit of workout time made all the difference. Bale nearly lost the lead in American Psycho to Leonardo DiCaprio. It was this physical dedication that helped him win it back in the end. And ultimately, American Psycho was the film that helped propel Bale onto the A-list a few years later. So the actor likely has no regrets about spending so much time in the gym to prepare for the role.

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Christian Bale won an Oscar for another famously thin part

Even Bale’s most acclaimed role resulted from an extreme diet. The actor received an Academy Award for his performance in 2010’s The Fighter. In that movie, he plays Dicky Eklund, half-brother of Mark Wahlberg’s main character. And since the character struggles with substance abuse, Bale’s body needed to reflect that.

Conversely, the actor went to great lengths for his 2018 role in Vice. Bale is next set to play the villainous Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder. Given his unpredictable track record, fans can only imagine how far he’ll go to play the Marvel Comics baddie.