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50 Greatest Christian Bale Moments

Something Elemental

The Source: Batman Begins (2005)

The Moment: Bruce Wayne delivers his mission statement. "As a man, I'm flesh and blood, I can be ignored, I can be destroyed; but as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting." As Alfred (Michael Caine) asks him to clarify, Bale grows visibly stronger and surer to confirm, "Something elemental, something terrifying."

Getting Ready

The Source: American Psycho (2000)

The Moment: Amazing to think Bale nearly lost one of his signature roles, as yuppie killer Patrick Bateman, to Leonardo DiCaprio. Right from the opening scene of the psycho's beauty regime, Bale's chiselled physicality and pedantically boring voiceover ("I believe in taking care of myself and a balanced diet and rigorous exercise routine") combine to bring Brett Easton Ellis' villain to life and prove Bale's credentials as a star.

Getting Ready, redux

The Source: American Hustle (2013)

The Moment: A sly throwback to the star's entrance in American Psycho , the opening scene sees paunchy Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) transform his balding pate into a luxurious 1970s barnet, a process involving glue, a hairpiece, a comb and tons of hairspray. And then Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper) intentionally messes it up. Uh-oh.


The Source: The Fighter (2010)

The Moment: The opening minutes of the film provide a fresh revelation of Bale's chameleonic ability to inhabit a character inside and out, in this case ex-boxer and crack addict Dickie Englund. Whether comparing fighting styles ("I'm squirrelly as fuck") or racing through the streets of Lowell with childish excitement, the contrast between Bale's emaciated appearance and his deranged enthusiasm is shocking.

Cadillac Of The Skies

The Source: Empire Of The Sun (1987)

The Moment: As an air raid reaches the internment camp where British teenager Jim Graham (Bale) is a prisoner, the boy looks in awe at an approaching P-51, whose pilot waves at him. "Cadillac of the sky!" Bale whoops in delight, oblivious to the potential danger.

Swear To Me

The Source: Batman Begins (2005)

The Moment: Any last lingering doubts that Bale *was* Batman evaporated as he interrogates gangster goon Flass. When the latter "swears to God" he doesn't know anything, Bale hisses "Swear to me!" and it's the audience (not just Flass) who do so immediately.

Hip To Be Square

The Source: American Psycho (2000)

The Moment: Bale mixes terror with comedy as Patrick Bateman prepares to slaughter rival yuppie Paul Allen (Jared Leto), all the while giving a robotic monologue about Huey Lewis And The News ("The whole album has...a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost") and excitedly dancing as he dons a raincoat and picks up an axe.

Without Rules

The Source: The Dark Knight (2008)

The Moment: Located at the literal and emotional centre of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, Batman has The Joker in captivity, only to discover that his nemesis has a joker up his sleeve: Harvey Dent and Rachel are both in peril, and Batman can only save one. Bale vs Ledger is an electrifying showdown, and Bale captures the hero's rage and panic even behind the mask.

Keeping It Real

The Source: The Machinist (2004)

The Moment: Our first sighting of insomniac, starving Trevor Reznick remains the defining moment of Bale's career, not merely for the shock value (he dropped a third of his weight to reach a life-threatening 120 pounds) but for the realisation that here is an actor who will do anything if the role warrants it.

Real Life Hero

The Source: The aftermath of the Aurora shooting (2012)

The Moment: When tragedy struck a Colorado cinema during preview screenings of The Dark Knight Rises , Bale impressed the world by instinctively flying to the city of Aurora to spend several hours visiting the hospital and talking to survivors of the shooting. Forget his on-screen heroics, this is the real deal.