Few stars are more versatile than Christian Bale. The English actor, who's scored four Oscar nominations over the years, is famous for his intense style of method acting and ability to transform into a wide array of character types — regardless of their physicality. In honor of the 10th anniversary of "The Fighter" — for which he lost a ton of weight to portray former professional boxer and drug addict Dicky Eklund — on Dec. 10, 2020, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at Christian's biggest transformations over the years. Keep reading to relive the highlights from one of our all-time favorite on-screen chameleons…
A pre-teenaged Christian Bale made his feature film debut in Steven Spielberg's 1987 coming-of-age war epic "Empire of the Sun." He took a tumble in the dirt to play an upper-class British schoolboy struggling to survive at an internment camp in China — where he befriends an expat played by John Malkovich after he's separated from his parents — during Japan's invasion amid WWII.
A teenaged Christian Bale grew out his hair to play a New York City newsboy in the 1899-set Disney musical "Newsies," which debuted in 1992.
No, you're not seeing double. Christian Bale and co-star Robert Sean Leonard twinned with matching long hair and big grins in 1993's "Swing Kids," which was set during the early days of Hitler's rise to power in Germany.
Christian Bale grew out his hair even longer — and rocked a mustache and goatee — to play the March sisters' childhood pal Laurie in the 1994 iteration of "Little Women," which is set around the Civil War.
Christian Bale channeled David Bowie with a feathery shoulder-length 'do and an androgynous ensemble in 1998's "Velvet Goldmine." He portrayed a music journalist and glam-rock enthusiast in the musical drama, which is set in 1970s England and is loosely inspired by the early years of Bowie and his Ziggy Stardust alter ego.
What a difference a 'do makes! Christian Bale sported a volumized slicked-back look worthy of his villainous alter ego — the racist son of a wealthy real estate tycoon — in 2000's "Shaft."
Christian Bale got into serious shape to play sociopathic investment banker Patrick Bateman — who can do 1,000 crunches! — in the 2000 adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's "American Psycho." He told The Guardian that while shooting the psychological thriller, "Working out took over my life."
A less chiseled (but still exceptionally fit!) Christian Bale starred as a Greek fisherman in the WWII-set 2001 drama "Captain Corelli's Mandolin."
Christian Bale was (inexplicably) back in top-notch shape in the 2002 post-apocalyptic action flick "Reign of Fire." He played one of humanity's few survivors after dragons awaken from hibernation and reclaim the modern world. Clearly famine wasn't having much impact on his on-screen alter ego…
Christian Bale lost around 60 pounds to play an emaciated insomniac in 2004's "The Machinist." He reportedly consumed just "water, an apple and one cup of coffee per day, with the occasional whiskey" to get down to around 120 pounds.
Christian Bale had less than a year to transform from an emaciated insomniac in "The Machinist" into the chiseled Bruce Wayne in 2005's "Batman Begins." He reportedly binged pizza and ice cream and lifted weights to get his body into Dark Knight-shape. Ultimately, he gained around 100 pounds!
Christian Bale grew his hair into long luxurious locks and sported a mustache and goatee to portray early English settler John Rolfe — who was married to Pocahontas — in the 1600s-set Terrence Malick drama "The New World," which debuted in 2005.
Christian Bale shaved his head, donned a white tank top and sported several fake tattoos to portray a former U.S. Army Ranger with PTSD in the 2005 David Ayer drama "Harsh Times."
Christian Bale again lost an astonishing amount of weight for his role in the 2007 war epic "Rescue Dawn." He starred as U.S. Navy pilot Dieter Dengler, who was shot down and captured by communists in Laos during the Vietnam War and held at a POW camp, where even the guards were starving.
A still-thin Christian Bale channeled early-'60s Bob Dylan (note the coiffed 'do!) in Todd Haynes' 2007 musical drama "I'm Not There," which is inspired by the life of the iconic singer-songwriter.
Christian Bale grew out his hair and beard and presumably spent some time in a tanning booth to play an impoverished rancher in the 2007 Western "3:10 to Yuma."
A shaved head and a combat-ready ensemble helped a dirty-looking Christian Bale transform into Resistance fighter John Connor in the 2009 action flick "Terminator Salvation."
Christian Bale reportedly lost 30 pounds to play former professional boxer and drug addict Dicky Eklund — who coaches his brother, Mark Wahlberg's Micky Ward, to a championship — in the 2010 biographical sports drama "The Fighter." His hard work — he was "running like crazy" to slim down, he said — paid off: He took home an Oscar for his efforts.
Christian Bale sported an impressively thick beard to play an American mortician who later disguises himself as a priest to protect a group of schoolgirls during Japan's 1937 invasion of China in the 2011 drama "The Flowers of War."
Christian Bale lost a few pounds, grew out his hair and sported some fake tattoos to play a steel mill worker and ex-con in 2013's "Out of the Furnace."
Christian Bale gained 43 pounds to play a con artist in David O. Russell's 2013 crime-drama "American Hustle." He scored his second Oscar nomination for his efforts.
A bad haircut and a simple blue T-shirt were all it took to transform Christian Bale into eccentric hedge fund manager Michael Burry in Adam McKay's 2015 biographical dramedy "The Big Short," for which he earned his third Oscar nomination.
Christian Bale sported a bow tie and his most dramatic facial hair yet — a lengthy beard and mustache — while portraying an American journalist during the Armenian Genocide in the 2017 drama "The Promise," in which Charlotte Le Bon also starred.
With a little extra emphasis on his mustache, Christian Bale transformed into a late-1800s U.S. Army cavalry officer in the 2017 Western drama "Hostiles."
Christian Bale was a dead ringer for former Vice President Dick Cheney in 2018's "Vice." He reportedly gained 80 pounds and spent hours in the makeup chair each day of shooting to perfectly portray the businessman and politician. He earned his fourth Oscar nomination and won a Golden Globe for his hard work.
It was more dramatic weight loss for Christian Bale — 70 pounds this time! — when he played professional race car driver Ken Miles in the 2019 biographical sports drama "Ford v Ferrari." Matt Damon told Men's Journal of his co-star, "The first day on the set, I asked him: 'How did you do that?' … He just looked at me and said: 'I didn't eat.'" Added the "Bourne" actor of Christian, "That guy is cut from a different cloth." No kidding! He earned his fifth Golden Globe nomination for his performance in the film.