The Anchorman and The Big Short director’s Dick Cheney biopic has rendered the actor’s Dark Knight physique a distant memory
Whenever Christian Bale is in a film, he entirely transforms his body. He gains weight, loses weight, grows his hair, looks older, looks younger, has this accent, has that accent. He’s a proper human chameleon. In fact, he’s such a master of transformation that, in Empire Of The Sun, he plays a CHILD!
Bale is portraying Dick Cheney in Vice, writer-director Adam McKay’s half-comedy, half-drama biopic of the Halliburton chairman turned vice president (you know, the one that shot a guy in the face and didn’t get in any trouble for it), co-starring Sam Rockwell as George W Bush, Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney and Bull Pullman as Donald Rumsfeld.
McKay (who previously worked with Bale on The Big Short) revealed a teaser for the film on Twitter.
There’s not a lot in there, other than the weird discovery that you can kind of buy Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush - a full trailer is on its way. The film company Annapurna Pictures also released two images of Bale’s Cheney at the points in his life that the film really dives into.
That’s pretty extraordinary - for comparison, here is the real Cheney:
It’s all the more impressive when you realise how much weight he had to gain for the role, and for how long.
This is all in a day’s work for Bale really though - look at the other transformations he’s undergone over the years.
American Psycho (2000)
Bale spent months working out for his role as Patrick Bateman, spending three hours a day with a personal trainer. “People start just going, ‘Oh yeah, that guy’s a real workout fanatic,’ and that’s not me, that’s Patrick Bateman,” he said at the time.
Reign Of Fire (2002)
Bale was ripped as hell in slightly silly dragon movie Reign Of Fire, enough so that director Rob Bowman considered putting some female dragons in the film and having them be attracted to him. Not a joke. And would probably watch. Reign Of Fire also features a prepubescent Joffrey from Game Of Thrones, Jack Gleeson, in a small role - Gleeson would later also show up in Bale’s Batman Begins.
The Machinist (2004)
Bale lost borderline-dangerous - actually probably just full-on dangerous - amounts of weight for The Machinist, surviving on nothing but an apple, a can of tuna and a cup of coffee every day. The screenwriter had mentioned specific weights in the script, but had done so imagining an actor his own height - Bale, at four inches taller, nonetheless matched the weights. According to the DVD commentary, after dropping to 120lbs, Bale wanted to drop further, to 99lbs, but the filmmakers intervened with health concerns.
Batman Begins (2005)
After losing so much weight for The Machinist, Bale had just six months to reach a Batman-appropriate weight, which he did through a combination of pizza, ice cream and weightlifting. He actually got so big that he had to then slim down a bit in time for filming. “We always knew that when Christian came back from training, he would have developed into a different shape,” said costume designer Lindy Hemming. “He did get enormously bigger, and when he first came back, we were like, Oh, no. It’s never going to fit!”
Rescue Dawn (2006)
Werner Herzog’s PoW drama was filmed in reverse - the characters on screen lose a lot of weight over the course of the film, so the cast (also including Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies) lost loads of weight before filming, then ate enormous amounts while shooting.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Fighter (2010)
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Bale returned to his Dark Knight size for the third part of the trilogy, but was arguably overshadowed by co-star Tom Hardy, who packed another thirty pounds of muscle on top of his Warrior frame to top 200lbs.
American Hustle (2013)
Finally someone let Bale just eat a big load of cakes. For American Hustle (in which he reunited with The Fighter co-star Amy Adams, also in Vice), Vale packed on 43lbs of doughnuts. “I ate lots of doughnuts, a whole lot of cheeseburgers and whatever I could get my hands on. I literally ate anything that came my way,” Bale tole People magazine. “I was about 185 and went up to 228.” He said his daughter enjoyed his belly: “She found it funny. Having a big old gut and a bald head, she would slap it and tease me. She had lots of fun and found it amusing.”
Bale didn’t get to just cruise through a few years as a big chap - he slimmed down for this frontier drama before packing all that weight back on to play Dick Cheney. You can see it beginning at the Hostiles premiere:
What a pro.
Vice is out on February 1 2019.