Throughout his career, Christian Bale — widely known for his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman in The Dark Knight trilogy – has taken on several notable roles (read about some of them here), each one bringing something unique to the table. As such, he’s created a plethora of memorable scenes. So, in honor of Bale’s birthday today (January 30), we take a look back at some of our favorite movie moments from Bale’s filmography.
The Perfect Lap (Ford v Ferrari)
Bale’s most recent role (only counting already released films) was that of British racing engineer and driver Ken Miles in Ford v Ferrari, following his journey to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. During one part of the film, Ken tells his son about the perfect lap – what it is and how to drive one (easier said than done, though). In the third act of the movie, Ken finally races in Le Mans but faces several challenges. But, as the end of the race approaches and Ken is far in the lead, he hits a sort of zen, reaching what has up until now seemed like an almost unobtainable goal – he drives the perfect lap. The execution of the scene is well done. It emphasizes the significance of the moment, further enhanced by his son’s realization of what happened. (And okay, maybe I got a little emotional too.)
A Hairy Situation (American Hustle)
In 2013, Bale took on the role of Irving Rosenfeld, undergoing a transformation wholly different than most of his other films. Part of that transformation included wearing a combover (and he shaved his head to make the combover work even better). This in and of itself was delightful to watch, and Irv fussing over his hair only added to his character, and it gives him one of the best scenes in the film. In the very first scene, Irv gets ready for a meeting, meticulously applying his combover, not leaving until every strand of hair is in its place. His intense focus and obvious care paired with hair standing in every direction makes for a hilarious scene that informs his character and showcases Bale’s ability for comedy, even if his character is absolutely serious.
John Preston Sees the Light (Equilibrium)
If there’s anything John Preston prides himself on, it’s his ability to NOT feel, a valued skill (requirement, really) in the society of Libria. However, he soon meets a woman – Mary, a sense offender (aka she feels and displays emotions) – who makes him question his own lack of feeling. One of the key moments in John’s awakening (literal and figurative) comes after he decides not to take a drug that suppresses emotion. He wakes from a bad dream, noticing it’s raining and that the sun is also out. In a childlike state of wonder, he rips the translucent covering blocking the window and gazes in awe at the scene before him. (See, John? Not so bad after all.)
Bruce Escapes the Pit (The Dark Knight Rises)
The Dark Knight trilogy is full of action-packed, suspenseful, and even humorous moments. For me, one of the bests scenes in the franchise comes in The Dark Knight Rises. Poor Bruce is brutally defeated by Bane and banished to a pit that people simply don’t escape. Despite his broken back, Bruce is determined to return to Gotham. His first attempts, while valiant, didn’t cut it, and it seemed as though he would never leave. At last he’s ready for another attempt, this time without the rope, and with an intense soundtrack and chanting backing the scene, Bruce is FINALLY free.
“It Even Has a Watermark” (American Psycho)
Outside of Bruce Wayne/Batman, one of Bale’s most widely recognizable roles is that of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. And whether you’ve seen the movie or not, chances are you know about one of the more (if not the most) popular scenes – the business card scene. Patrick begins the madness by flaunting what he believes is the best business card of the group. Soon everyone else joins in and Patrick grows increasingly jealous. The scene comes to a head when Patrick sees Paul Allen’s card, all but shutting down on the outside as we hear his voiceover about why this card is so impressive – maybe it’s the subtle off-white coloring, or perhaps the tasteful thickness? Neither holds a candle, though, to the watermark.
Sharing the Magic (The Prestige)
Before Alfred Borden became a successful magician, he first had to learn the ropes and start from the bottom. Early in the film, Alfred is working for another magician as an assistant for a show. During one trick, a child becomes upset when he realizes what’s actually happened. Afterwards, Alfred meets the child and his aunt outside, where he shows the child a simple trick with a coin. He shares the secret with the child, offering him a little advice to go along with it.
Next-Level Dedication (Rescue Dawn)
Christian Bale is well-known for his often intense dedication to his roles. Whether it be significant weight changes or endless research, he puts in the effort. One such role is Dieter Dengler in Rescue Dawn, based on a true story. There’s one in particular that stands out to me from this film: when Dieter chows down a nice bowl of maggots. What makes this scene so memorable, though, is knowing that Bale himself was actually eating the maggots, which is… pretty gross, but I admire the dedication (good protein, too, I suppose). He also does most of his own stunts for the film, including wrestling a snake.
Russell Gets His Revenge (Out of the Furnace)
In Out of the Furnace, Bale plays Russell Baze, a man who searches for his brother, Rodney, and revenge after learning about Rodney’s fatal end. After conducting his own investigation, uncovering more about his brother, Russell eventually faces the man, Harlan, responsible for Rodney’s demise, killing him and getting revenge for Rodney. The scene comes at the end of the film and is a slow-burn as Russell allows Harlan to put some distance between the two, never letting Harlan out of sight. Just as Harlan gets to the end of his rope, Russell finally tells him, “I’m Rodney Baze’s brother.”
Bale currently has two confirmed upcoming films, both currently in production – an untitled project with David O. Russell (character currently unknown), and Thor: Love and Thunder, where he will play Gorr the God Butcher. What are some of your favorite Christian Bale movie moments? Let us know in the comments!