When The Machinist was first being talked about after its release in festivals around the country, the talk amidst all movie-goers was Christian Bale's dramatic weight loss. Standing 6' exactly (according to IMDb.com) and normally weighing in at 185 pounds, it was a shock to view his body withering away in this role. He lost a staggering 63 pounds for the role. Much to my surprise, it wasn't at the advice of director, Brad Anderson. Anderson is quoted as saying he never requested Bale lose as much weight as he did.
I was completely shocked by this because if this wasn't at the request or demand of the director, then why in the world would you care to lose that much meat off of your bones?!
In reading an article about this topic, Christian Bale answers questions about his mind-boggling weight loss for his role as Trevor Reznik (no relation to the lead singer of Nine Inch Nails). Bale states that he never thought, at the time, that his dramatic weight loss would pose any health threat to his body. He is quoted as saying, "I had what could be called a kind of stupid feeling of invincibility, like, 'Oh I can do it. I can manage it.'
Thank God he did because if he didn't fill the shoes of Batman, I don't know what I would've done. His weight loss wasn't part of a specific diet or elimination of certain foods. In fact, it was the elimination of almost all foods and a lot of exercise. His exercise did not involve any type of weight lifting. He only want to lose the fat and keep from bulking up at the same time. His goal for the movie was to look like as if he had not slept for a year. I'm sure I can vouch for everyone who's seen the movie that he definitely achieved this goal. Bale received little assistance in the way of medical attention except for one visit when initially beginning his weight loss.
He was given information as to what types of things his body would lose, such as vitamins and minerals and that he should take supplements for a number of those things. After that, Bale states that he was his own guide and kept going with his weight loss
. As long as he still felt okay, he would continue to loss the fat. His own physical feeling was his gauge. He was told by many people working for The Machinist that if he got his weight down to 140 - 145 that that would be okay too.
However, because Bale saw that he was able to handle his weight loss without much problem, that he would go ahead and lose another 20 pounds, bringing him down to the weight we see in the movie at 121 - 122. Bale is documented as stating, "But I was intrigued by a perverse nature of mine just to see if I can go beyond what I've been told is actually safe and OK, and see if I could push the limits." It is said that Bale wanted to lost another 20 pounds even after reaching 121! I'm almost positive that in profile view of his body, it would disappear before all movie-goers eyes.
Christian Bale has said that his severe weight loss did create a change in his mood and emotions. He felt very "serene and calm" for the majority of the filming for The Machinist. It didn't seem to create much problem for him until he began to bulk up for the role of Batman in Batman Begins. He gained a shocking 100 pounds within the span of five months! He was definitely was adding a lot of stress on his body and his heart.
He has that he feels good now and that he would never go as far as he did for The Machinist again because at some point, it becomes stupid and more of a joke. Bale has stated that he doesn't want to be "that guy" that loses weight for all his movie roles and because of that, he'll make sure to steer clear of anything that asks him to lose a third of his body weight.
Because of Christian Bale's highly publicized weight loss for The Machinist, he has been compared to the likes of Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull (who gained about 60 pounds) and Charlize Theron for lead role in Monster. Even though it is a great way to gain recognition as a professional and dedicated actor, you have to wonder - was it worth it to lose that much weight for this particular role?
After watching The Machinist, I would have to say I'm not quite sure. The movie is by no means on the scale of Batman Begins in terms of its soaring popularity but The Machinist is its own movie and Christian Bale felt moved enough to lose weight because of his belief in what this movie is and could become. If any are interested in watching The Machinist, I won't give anything away. I will say this though, it is a darker movie that can be a bit slow paced at times.
I'm very tempted to say that if Fight Club and Memento combined forces, The Machinist would be born except it would be born without a superb ending like the previously mentioned. In any event, it contains great acting by everyone in it. It is a bit disturbing at times only because looking at Bale can be a bit painful. It's almost as if you're waiting for a bone to stop within the thin stretch of skin barely covering his bones.
You have to hand it to him, though. He's extremely dedicated and will follow through on what he feels is important for his movies and his acting career. Can't say I have anything to complain about.