Arthur Stuart In ‘Velvet Goldmine’ (1998)
As a music journalist who looks back on his formative young years as a closeted gay man amid the height of Britain’s 1970s glam-rock craze, Bale achieved his lanky look by living the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle… with his mother’s approval.
“She said, ‘Well, hold a bit, you’re doing a film about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Why don’t you do it the way they did it? They weren’t out running, they just weren’t out eating. They didn’t eat but they drank a hell of a lot and lived very unhealthily.’ So I went, ‘Yes, cheers, mom, all right,’ and took that to heart and it works.”
Patrick Bateman In ‘American Psycho’ (2000)
To play ultimate fit yuppie Patrick Bateman, Bale had his teeth capped, hit the gym like crazy and embarked on what he called the “most restrictive” diet of his career. “Working out took over my life. I became fascinated with talking about the body, and diet, and the gym. It made me very judgmental of other people’s bodies as well,” he told the Guardian about his iconic role.
Trevor Reznik In ‘The Machinist’ (2004)
The Welsh actor dropped to an emaciated and sickly 121 pounds to play the unstable Trevor Reznik in “The Machinist” at age 30. His most shocking transformation and biggest weight loss of his career meant losing one-third of his body weight to achieve the sunken look of a man haunted by a workplace accident. Bale achieved his gaunt appearance by starving himself with a diet of black coffee and one can of tuna and one apple per day, along with a handful of vitamins and supplements.
Dieter Dengler In ‘Rescue Dawn’ (2006)
Bale dropped between 55 and 65 pounds to play real-life Vietnam War P.O.W. Dieter Dengler in Werner Herzog’s “Rescue Dawn”. Production began by filming the movie in reverse-chronological order because it was easier for Bale and his skinny co-stars Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies to beef up to their characters’ pre-imprisonment weights over the course of the film’s 44-day shoot in Thailand. Herzog lost nearly 30 pounds in solidarity with his actors.
Bruce Wayne/Batman In ‘The Dark Knight’ Trilogy (2005 – 2012)
Just six weeks after “The Machinist”, Bale had to get buff to prove he could be Batman for a screen test for “Batman Begins”. This time, Bale turned to a high-calorie diet of pizza and ice cream to get back up to 185 pounds and an additional 35 pounds of muscle, which, as it turns out, was too much for director Christopher Nolan. He had to lose 20 pounds before filming began by cutting carbs, calories, and upping his running regimen.
Dickie Eklund In ‘The Fighter’ (2010)
As boxer-turned-addict-turned-trainer Dickie Eklund in 2010’s “The Fighter”, Bale achieved his gaunt look as the welterweight boxer – someone who weighs in at between 140 and 147 pounds – by “running like crazy” for his Best Supporting Actor Oscar-winning role.
He told MTV News: “I couldn’t go too far. Because if I went too far, I’d be able to play the crackhead side, but then after jail, he got clean mentally and physically, and he’s always wiry, he’s always lean but I had to be able to show that.”
Irving Rosenfeld In ‘American Hustle’ (2013)
To play the 1970s potbellied con man in “American Hustle”, Bale weighed in at 228 pounds, thanks to “lots of doughnuts [and] a whole lot of cheeseburgers.”
The only problem for the actor was – at age 39 – the weight wasn’t coming off as quickly as it used to. He told People he had to work it off for more than six months, compared to what would have taken two months in his 20s.
Moses In ‘Exodus: Gods And Kings’ (2014)
Bale’s buff bod may not seem like too much of a stretch but the actor got toned to play the part of the muscular Moses immediately after schlubbing it up in “American Hustle”. The actor told Esquire he wasn’t totally in shape in the abs department by the time he started filming: “I’m glad of those costumes. They could cover a bit of the ‘American Hustle’ gut, which I was desperately trying to get rid of. But—whooo—it’s taking a long time.”
The actor points out another physical flaw, this one caused by a 2012 motorcycle accident:
“If you look closely, you can see my left arm is skinnier than my right. You really can because I hadn’t been able to use it for a long time. I lost all my use. It was just a limp thing hanging.”
Dick Cheney In ‘Vice’ (2018)
Bale ditched his usual cheeseburger and ice cream diet to pack on the pounds to play former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney in “Vice”. The actor enlisted a nutritionist to help him gain 40 pounds in the healthiest way possible. But this might be the last time audiences get to see a drastic transformation. He told ET Canada he’s “getting too old” for the rapid weight-gains: “My daughter said ‘Enough is enough.’”