Christian Bale has long been known to go for broke for each and every role he takes. His physical transformations to get into these roles are nothing short of amazing, if not crazy. One movie, where the actor took on his most remarkable physical change, is now available to be seen on Netflix.
The Machinist is a psychological thriller that stars Christian Bale as Trevor Reznik, a machinist with a particular problem – he can’t sleep. Trevor’s insomnia has become so bad that it’s taking a physical toll on his body. His emaciated appearance is beginning to scare off his co-workers. One day at work, Trevor is blamed for an accident in which a co-worker, Miller, loses an arm. Trevor explains that he was distracted by another co-worker, Ivan, but no one knows Ivan and there are no records to indicate that Ivan works at the factory.
Though Christian Bale’s character looks as he does physically, Trevor finds comfort with Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a prostitute who appears to have actual affection for him. Trevor also finds comfort with Maria, a waitress he knows from the diner he visits. But things aren’t right with Trevor. He becomes haunted by frequent visions and a series of post-it notes begin to appear on his refrigerator.
These small incidents drive Christian Bale’s Trevor even further into dismay. Still, he tries to start a relationship with Maria. He meets her and her son Nicholas at a local amusement park. When he takes her son on a ride called Route 666, the boy ends up having an epileptic seizure from the flashing lights. To make things worse, Ivan begins to show up more often. Then, another work incident causes Trevor to explode in anger, prompting him to be fired from his job.
Trevor is now determined to find out what Ivan has to do with his life unraveling. He finally tracks down Ivan, taking Ivan’s car’s license plate to the police. Confusion is upped a notch when the police tell Trevor the car in question is his own and that Trevor reported it totaled one year ago. What is going on here?
Trevor (Christian Bale) seeks solace with Maria, so he goes to the diner. There, he is told by a waitress unfamiliar to Trevor that they never had a waitress named Maria working for them. The waitress then tells Trevor she’s been waiting on him for a year and actually thought he was mute since he never spoke.
The Machinist is a psychological thriller to the nth degree. Is Trevor imagining things? Are there other forces at work here? The payoff, brought to the big screen by director Brad Anderson from a script by Scott Kosar, is quite satisfying.
For The Machinist, Christian Bale did what he does for many of his roles – he embodies them. The physical transformation Bale underwent before cameras began to roll on the film was remarkable and, frankly, dangerous.
Christian Bale started his transformation four months before filming started. The actor weighed over 180 pounds when he started. When all was said and done, Bale had shed an amazing 62 pounds, bringing his filming weight down to 120 pounds.
To get that massive weight loss, it was said that Bale consumed only water, an apple, and one cup of coffee per day. Bale also admitted he chain-smoked cigarettes and drank whiskey to help lose the weight.
Surprisingly enough, Bale also stated that losing the weight wasn’t the most difficult thing for him, but the toll it took on him physically and emotionally. “It’s an amazing experience doing that,” Bale explains via The Guardian. “When you’re so skinny that you can hardly walk up a flight of stairs … you’re, like, this being of pure thought. It’s like you’ve abandoned your body. That’s the most Zen-like state I’ve ever been in my life.”
Christian Bale also acknowledges that there are probably easier ways to accomplish what he does to physically prepare for a role, but those other ways wouldn’t work for him. “There is a much easier way, but I can’t do it. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t have any training. I see actors who can just be themselves and then switch and give these really incredible performances, and then switch back to being themselves. I find I start laughing because I’m too aware that it’s still me. So I try to get as distant as possible. Otherwise, I can’t do it.” Talk about dedication to one’s craft.
The Machinist isn’t the only film in which Christian Bale underwent a physical transformation to portray a character. There was American Psycho, where the actor says his diet for the film was his most restrictive and claims it was tougher getting lean for this film than it was for Batman Begins.
Up and down goes Bale’s weight for roles in films like Rescue Dawn, The Dark Knight, The Fighter, and The Dark Knight Rises. For his role in American Hustle, Bale packed on the weight, taking his body over 200 pounds with a diet consisting of doughnuts and cheeseburgers.
Christian Bale has a well-documented history of on and off-set bad behavior. In 2008, the actor was arrested for allegedly assaulting his mother and his sister at London’s Dorchester hotel. The charges were eventually dropped on lack of evidence.
Shortly after that unfortunate incident, Bale was involved with another, this one on the set of his 2009 film, Terminator Salvation. It involved the film’s director of photography Shane Hurlbut. Bale verbally assaulted the man for all to hear. In fact, the verbal outburst was recorded by the sound guys and all came from Hurlbut walking into Bale’s line of sight while cameras were rolling.
But for all the bad off-screen, there’s still his work on screen. Christian Bale has been an A-lister for quite some time now and that doesn’t look to be ending soon. He is next set to star as Gorr the God Butcher in Marvel’s Thor: Love and Thunder as well as in a project with director David O. Russell. Then Christian Bale will be seen in The Pale Blue Eye. For now, you can catch a gravely emaciated Christian Bale in The Machinist on Netflix.