Christian Bale is one actor known for going to extremes for his roles. Although he has iterated numerous times that he is not a method actor per se, the seamless way he weaves himself into the characters would suggest otherwise. However, it could also be a perk of the kind of roles and the sheer amount of them he has portrayed over the years.
And of course, the kind of length he has gone over them that has by now enabled him to tap in and out of the characters with the right exercises. Especially as, from starving to bingeing to wringing himself dry he has done everything to do justice to the characters he would portray.
In fact, there was a time when he even got thrown out of bars repeatedly during the production of a movie that will eventually lead him to his Oscars.
Christian Bale’s pursuit of turning into a drug addict
2010 saw the release of the sports biographical drama The Fighter, and with that came Christian Bale the most coveted Academy Award. In an interview with GQ once, Bale broke down the process of preparing for his most iconic roles. Obviously, Dick Ecklund and his story of being a boxer who was spiraling into the deepest pit of cocaine addiction and getting back up from that made its place there.
However, the movie based on the HBO documentary High on Crack Street: Lost Lives in Lowell, didn’t only highlight the former boxer’s struggles with addiction and its impact on his life and by extension the people around him, it did a great job of portraying the caliber of Christan Bale’s artistry.
And although the movie didn’t require him to go through extreme starvation or other physical alterations, it definitely depicted how sick a drug addiction can make you look.
The result of this was obviously the sympathy the audience felt for the character to the point that they end up rooting for him. However, that’s not the only thing Bale had to do. He even went into the boxing ring and trained hard for a long time to portray himself perfectly as a pro boxer.
Christian Bale’s process of turning into Dick Ecklund
As mentioned, Christian Bale is no stranger to doing whatever it takes for his characters. And sometimes, most of it required him to hang out with the character he will portray on screen to understand and get in touch with him. This was exactly the case with Ecklund as Bale noted that during the workshop he was in Lowell hanging out with the former boxer all the time.
This not only helped him understand the character more but also the experiences he gained during that time helped him to bring the character to life perfectly. And some of these experiences were getting thrown out of bars and even getting stopped by cops all the time. Bale noted,
“Dicky [Ecklund], he’s such a character. He makes his presence felt all the time. I spent so much time hanging out with Dicky beforehand. Being in Lowell, hanging out with him, going walking around, getting kicked out of bars, having almost every cop stopping and going, ‘Hey, hey Dicky!’ and then telling me a story about when they arrested him.”
Christian Bale also mentioned that along with the rigorous boxing training he was going through at that time, he also had to spar with Ecklund repeatedly to get his movies and the way he controls them accurately. He explained,
“It’s really quite something when you, you might think you can, ‘Ah, I’ll be a decent boxer,’ you spar with other amateurs and whatnot, I’d done that a few times. But when you get in the ring with a pro? Bloody hell.”
This seems fair as he not only had to show his own character but also work as a mentor onscreen for Mark Wahlberg‘s Micky Ward, Ecklund’s younger half-brother, whom the $129 million movie is based on. Rest assured, all of them portrayed the kind of performances that led the movie to rule that year’s award season with Academy Awards, Golden Globes, SAG awards, Critics’ Choice awards, and many more.
The Fighter is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.