Source: USA TODAY
This month, Christian Bale has a one-two punch planned for the box office with two movies, Out of the Furnace (in theaters Friday) and American Hustle (opening Dec. 13). What’s been the secret to the Oscar-winning actor’s success as he navigates from a record-smashing franchise to meaty smaller films? USA TODAY’s Andrea Mandell decodes the actor’s grand plan.
Bale has been hailed as one of the most transformative actors of our time — so why the persisting intense reputation? Bale laughs at how his daughter proves that wrong. He thinks it may have something to do with his on-set focus. “One thing that people find very sometimes surprising to hear about me is I’ve become a real giggler on set,” Bale says. “Once I start laughing, I cannot stop. And because I’m very aware of that, I make an effort to never get to a place where I find myself losing it through laughter.” And sometimes, Bale goes to the opposite extreme, trying to be “as absolutely silent as possible on set. Human beings often seem to take silence as being intimidation, and it’s really not in my case. It’s just a sense of trying to control myself so I’m able to do my job better.”
2. A (very) low profile
Privacy is paramount for Bale, whose child’s name has not ever been correctly identified by the blogosphere and who escapes the paparazzi lens more often than not. “You don’t know anything about his private life. Therefore, it’s much easier to believe him as a steelworker or as Bruce Wayne or as (The Fighter’s) Dicky Eklund, because you don’t know anything about his family, his kids, where he gets his coffee, where he shops, all those sorts of things,” says Scott Cooper, his Out of the Furnace director.
3. No campaigning
There’s a difference between promoting your work and promoting yourself — a line in the sand Bale won’t cross, despite awards buzz looming large over his two films opening in the heart of Oscar season. (On Tuesday, Hustle was named best film of the year by the New York Film Critics Circle.) “I will never campaign for myself,” he says. “I’ll always try to be pushing the films and helping them out. But I just feel too radically inappropriate to be campaigning for myself. I think it’s just wrong.”
4. Total immersion
When Bale takes on a role, he commits wholeheartedly, gaining or losing up to 50 pounds and immersing himself in a new dialect — even at home. “(He) lives in a constant state of emotion of being in character,” says Furnace co-star Zoe Saldana. Amy Adams, who worked with Bale in The Fighter and plays his mistress in American Hustle, agrees. “I remember when we were promoting The Fighter, just to see Christian and be like, ‘That is not the person that I worked with,’ ” she says.
5. No yachts, no private islands
Want to know how Bale stays choosy? He doesn’t have crazy expenses hanging over his head. “He lives well beneath his means,” Cooper says. “He isn’t flashy in any way. He still drives a 10-year-old truck. … He understands that if you live beneath your means, you don’t have to take parts to ultimately pay for all the things that result in soulless endeavors.”