Christian Bale is a fucking fantastic actor who has been widely lauded by critics for the heroic amount of effort he puts into playing near enough every character he’s ever portrayed. Something that ironically resulted in the cast and crew of American Psycho assuming that Bale was a bad actor because they didn’t realise he spent the entirety of production in character as a sociopathic serial killer. A level of commitment that saw the director of the film openly compare him to a robot.
You see, Christian Bale is a really weird and intensely private man who is impressively committed to the craft of acting to the point he basically becomes whatever character he’s tasked with playing. For example, Bale, a native Englishman, will outright refuse to speak with his natural accent at any point during production and insists that people refer to him by his character’s name. Something that yes, before you try and Google it, resulted in Bale insisting that people call him either Batman or Bruce Wayne when starring in the Nolan trilogy.
Anyway, the sheer effort Bale goes to when making movies has resulted in him becoming one of Hollywood’s best known method actors. A title Bale actively dislikes, claiming that he is not a method actor and that he, we shit you not, “wings it” on set every time they yell action.
Moving on, regardless of whether or not Bale thinks he’s a method actor, the effort he goes to, to embody each he character he plays is such that even his peers think it’s a bit much and in fact, saw many of them write him off as a shit actor in his early career. The best example of this being Bale’s magnetic and exceedingly memetic take on the character of Patrick Bateman. A cripplingly narcissistic serial killer who, amongst other things, kills prostitutes by throwing chainsaws at them.
To explain, according to Bale himself, many of his co-stars loudly complained about his performance to producers because they simply didn’t get what the fuck he was doing. Luckily for Bale the film’s director, Mary Harron did know what Bale was going for and ignored these criticisms, simply telling people that complained to observe Bale between takes.
Why? Well the actor reportedly stayed in character as Bateman the entire time and would sit stock-still between takes unless he was specifically interacted with, at which point he’d affect the character’s now iconic facade of faux friendliness. Which, yes, for everyone screaming about it in the comments, was directly inspired by the cold dead eyes of Tom Cruise.
By far the most impressive facet of Bale’s performance though was his ability to do things you’d assume would be impossible for a person to do on command well, on command. For example, according to Harron, Bale was somehow able to sweat on cue for a scene in which Bateman gets irrationally furious at the idea of his coworkers near-identical business cards looking more swag than his own and then desperately tries to hide it.
A feat Harron initially believed was literally, physically impossible until she observed Bale do it right on cue every single time they did another take of the scene and resulted in her positively comparing him to a robot for the rest of production. A descriptor we don’t feel is entirely accurate because a robot would eventually run out of fuel.