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Christian Bale is known for completely morphing his body to better fit the characters he plays. But there was one feature where Bale’s commitment led to serious injury, which prompted the director to step in.

Christian Bale lost height for this movie

Christian Bale smirking while wearing a black suit at the 'American Hustle' photocall.
Christian Bale | Luca Teuchmann/WireImage

Bale is no stranger to losing and gaining weight for film roles. One of his most dramatic transformations happened in the David O. Russell movie American Hustle. The 2013 feature saw him playing Irving Rosenfeld, who was inspired by real-life conman Melvin Weinberg. Bale had to achieve a very heavy-set look for the role, which required him to eat anything that he could get his hands on.

“I ate lots of doughnuts, a whole lot of cheeseburgers and whatever I could get my hands on. I literally ate anything that came my way,” Bale told People in 2013. “I was about 185 and went up to 228. I’m still working it off.”

But Bale didn’t only just shift his weight, he also shifted his height. He did what he could to make himself significantly shorter than his co-star Bradley Cooper to highlight his character’s insecurities.

“I would hunker down and physically try to make myself much shorter than Bradley, and communicate how Irv resented that,” Bale said in a 2013 interview with Variety.

However, the actor might’ve done too good of a job. Russell confided that Bale’s transformation came with real-life physical consequences for the star. Eventually, the filmmaker had to step in and advise Bale to take it a bit easy.

“At one point I said enough already. He lost three inches of height, and even got a herniated disc. He’s a quiet, sweet, smart person with endless passion,” Russell once told USA Today (via Contact Music).

Christian Bale shared the hilarious reasons why he stayed in character on set

Bale had a second reason for his intense character work other than just passion. Although he could be very serious while on set, the actor was secretly known for his surprising sense of humor.

“He’s funny. Really, really funny,” his American Hustle co-star Amy Adams said.

It was easy for Bale to laugh or break character while on a film set, so staying in his role was his defense mechanism.

“I tend to stay in character between scenes … to be rather serious on set, but here’s why, and I think people will find it surprising. I’m one of the worst ‘corpses’ on a movie set, which means you can’t keep a straight face. You start to get the giggles and you can’t stop. I never want to step out of a scene and be objective, because as soon as I do, I find it hilarious,” Bale said.

He further asserted that he found almost all of his movie scenes funny, if only because acting itself was a pretty amusing gig.

“I find what I do for a living really funny. I mean, acting is kind of a hilarious thing for a grown man to call a job,” he said.

Why Christian Bale is pretty sure that he’s done gaining and losing weight


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Bale confided not too long ago that he was pretty much done with the dramatic weight transformations. The actor is in his mid-40s, and as he approaches his 50s, his body might not be able to handle the extreme fluctuations.

“I’ve become a little more boring now because I’m older and I feel if I keep doing what I’ve done in the past, I’m gonna die. So I prefer not to die. So I’d like not to die,” Bale once told E! News.