Christian Bale has been cast in The Flowers of War, a period piece about the 1937 Japanese massacre of Chinese citizens in Nanjing.
Bale will play a priest who saves the lives of Chinese refugees fleeing the brutal Japanese invasion. The 6′ Christian, who lost a shocking 63 pounds for The Machinist in 2003 (dropping to a mere 122 pounds) only to gain 85 pounds of muscle a few months later for Batman Begins, transformed himself again for The Fighter.
Bale achieved his extreme weight loss for “The Machinist” essentially by starving, subsisting on vitamins and eating only a can of tuna and an apple a day and running several miles daily.
“I was intrigued by a perverse nature of mine just to see if I can go beyond what I’ve been told is actually safe and okay, and see if I could push the limits,” he told BBC at the time.
While he also had to be skinny to play the gaunt boxing trainer Dicky Eklund in The Fighter, Christian was careful to not go to extremes.
“I couldn’t go too far,” Bale explained, “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. So we needed makeup to help me out a great deal with that.”
Christian added: “I’m a good 60 pounds heavier than a welterweight. I can’t lose that much weight, because I wouldn’t be able to box and train and everything. I didn’t look at numbers, I didn’t look at scale, I just went down to what looked like might be the right body type for Dicky and the way that he fights as well.”
The normally muscular Bale got scary-skinny for “The Fighter” by running up to four hours a day and dramatically slashing calories.
But after having undergone three extreme weight losses during the past 7 years, Bale isn’t too keen to take on another part that requires such a dramatic makeover.
“I have no goal of seeing if I can become invisible one day, eat so little that I disappear,” Bale joked. “I didn’t take this job because I went, ‘Oh, there’s a physical transformation needed.’ I always go, ‘Damn! There’s a physical transformation needed!’ “
Christian, who’s known for his intense dedication, says part of the appeal in the extreme makeovers was to prove to himself that he could do it.
“I know that I can now, so there would need to be a certain gimmick if I was to do that all over again,” he laughs. “But I do like, very much, the notion of seeing how far you can push yourself so I’m very happy that I did that.”