Christian Bale didn’t just gain 42 pounds to play New York con man Irving Rosenfeld in David O. Russell’s ‘American Hustle,’ he also shaved part of his head to give extra life to Rosenfeld’s rather elaborate comb over. Bale even herniated a disc in his back as a result of his decision to give his character a slouched posture, which dropped Bale’s real-life height by three inches.
‘American Hustle’ isn’t the first time Bale has created a character with a physical tweak — he famously lost more than 60 pounds for his role in ‘The Machinist’ — but it might be his most striking transformation. Take what happened, for instance, when co-star Robert De Niro was introduced to Bale and the rest of the film’s cast before shooting a key ‘American Hustle’ scene.
“When Robert met the whole cast, he shook their hands the day we shot that scene,” Russell said at the press conference. “After he met everybody he said, ‘Who’s that guy?’ I said, ‘You just shook his hand, that’s Christian Bale.’ He said, ‘No, that guy.’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s Christian Bale!’”
De Niro, who had never worked with Bale before “American Hustle,” was impressed.
“He stared and said, ‘Wow, he looks so different. It’s great,’” Russell recalled. “He didn’t realise he had just met Christian, so I had to reintroduce him again.”