Bale's range of change

Batman Bale

Yo-yo dieting is a way of life for some, but for Hollywood actors, gaining and losing lots of weight is part of the job. When it is so hard for many ordinary people to lose weight or even to gain it, what kind of discipline do actors have that allows them to succeed at this challenge?

For Christian Bale’s performance in the new boxing film, The Fighter, the actor dramatically “transformed” himself from Batman buff to “rail thin” for his role as drug addict and former boxer Dicky Eklund.

Bale in The Fighter

The 6-foot-tall actor dropped 63 pounds to play a chronic insomniac in The Machinist in 2003. (see “skinny Bale” above left) His secret to dropping all the way down to 122 pounds? Starvation, vitamins, and lots of gym time. As part of the process, Bale consulted a nutritionist who advised him about how much weight he could safely lose — but the actor kept going past that point. “I lost another 20 pounds below what she said I should stop at,” he told the BBC.

Amazingly after the Machinist, Bale hired a personal trainer to help him gain 100 pounds (45 kg) in the span of only a couple of months to help him physically prepare for the role of Batman in 2005. He first went well over the weight required and created concern over whether he would look right for the part. Bale recognized that his large physique was not appropriate for Batman, who relies on speed and strategy. He lost the excess weight by the time filming began.

It can’t be healthy or good for your heart to create these huge fluctuations. But how does he make it happen so easily, when normal people can’t gain or lose just 5-10 pounds?

I’ll show more examples in other posts of actors who alter their weight for the screen. Maybe we can learn what the secret is that makes it possible…