The Transformer: Christian Bale
After redefining the superhero genre as Batman, Bale is back to doing what he loves best: disappearing into messy, larger-than-life characters—leading-man looks be damned—for fiercely independent filmmakers.
To begin with, there’s the comb-over: A spectacularly ugly piece of business that Christian Bale glues onto his head and into movie history in David O. Russell’s dark comedy American Hustle (out in December). It is, without a doubt, a maverick move, but that’s nothing new for a man who welcomes disguise (The Prestige) and physical transformation (The Machinist). Bale is a bit of a conundrum: Even when he’s the superhero in the title (The Dark Knight), he behaves like a character actor. He never triesto look like a star—even if that is simply impossible, as in Scott Cooper’s gritty revenge drama Out of the Furnace (out December 6)—and he certainly never acts like one. It is perhaps telling that his Oscar is for Best Supporting Actor (Russell’s The Fighter), not Best Actor. “It isn’t about him, it’s always about the character,” Cooper says. “He goes against a large percentage of actors who want to be known for what they do offscreen, who want to be personalities.” That disinterest in celebrity and dedication to keeping his personal life private allows for an uncommonly pure viewing experience. It’s a blueprint you can see younger leading men like Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, and Tom Hardy following closely. And it’s the reason notoriously picky directors like Russell, Christopher Nolan, Terrence Malick, and Todd Haynes keep circling back. Bale has three major films in progress for 2014, including Malick’s Knight of Cups and Ridley Scott’sExodus. We spoke with the 39-year-old star as he was preparing to undertake a transformation of biblical proportion to play Moses. • Read full story »