Most people probably couldn’t even tell you what The Machinist is about, but they’d definitely remember the haunting images of Christian Bale‘s dramatic weight loss. It’s become a regular practice for the actor to alter his body for whatever role he’s playing, but his turn as Trevor Reznik was the first time it gained any sort of mainstream attention.
Brad Anderson’s psychological thriller is often a difficult watch, but Bale is as phenomenal as you’d expect, his skeletal frame moving through the story as Reznik battles against the insomnia that’s savaged both his physical and mental health. After causing an accident at work, he increasingly succumbs to paranoia as he blames his issues on a mysterious figure named Ivan, who may or may not be a figment of his imagination.
In a training regiment that should never be replicated under any circumstances, Bale dropped 62 pounds thanks to a daily diet of water, a single apple and one cup of coffee. Incredibly, the star wanted to go to even more extremes by losing another 20 pounds, but the crew and producers put their foot down due to the obvious health concerns.
As if his Method madness didn’t boggle the mind enough, he was confirmed as Christopher Nolan’s Batman less than two months before The Machinist premiered. With shooting on Batman Begins penciled in to begin in March 2004, Bale hired a trainer and somehow packed on 100 pounds of muscle in the space of a few months, only to drop another 30 after realizing he’d become too bulky for the Caped Crusader’s costume.
If you can stomach the sight of Bale’s gaunt, harrowing appearance, then The Machinist is now streaming on Netflix and provided an engrossing character piece.