Christian Bale: The Best and Worst of His Beards

Christian Bale: The Best and Worst of His Beards

Dec 15, 2014

When it comes to transforming your body for a role, few actors have changed as drastically as Christian Bale, most famously when the actor lost a ton of weight for The Machinist only to turn around and put on a ton of muscle for Batman Begins. Sometimes, however all that weight loss/gain isn’t necessary for Christian Bale. Instead he just grows a beard. Or shaves a beard. Whatever. The point is, which does he wear better?

 

To Beard: Exodus: Gods and Kings

Let's start with an easy one. Bale’s Exodus beard is a simple, small affair. Clean yet thin, this standard beard gives him integrity but does not make him look like a wild man. It might not be setting appropriate, but it fits his character, Moses, well enough.

 

Not to Beard: American Psycho

Even if this Bale weren’t a crazy killer, he would still be a shark moving through the waters of Wall Street, sniffing around for blood. This type of guy would absolutely lose his cool if he found even one missed whisker on his face. Furthermore, his skin is probably as smooth as a baby’s.

 

To Beard: Out of the Furnace

Backwoods Bale needs to be a little scrappy, but once again we see that the typical Bale beard isn’t nearly as scrappy as it could be. The mustache and chin strap are thick but maintained. He also forgoes sideburns altogether.

 

Not to Beard: The Dark Knight

We do get a little beard out of Christian Bale in the beginning of The Dark Knight Rises and parts of Batman Begins but for the most part, his Bruce Wayne remains a fairly well-shaven chap. This makes sense since like American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman, he has to move easily through a corporate world.

 

To Beard: American Hustle

With that protruding gut and extreme comb-over, it’s hard to even see Bale’s American Hustle beard. But it’s there. Unlike a lot of Bale beards, this one commands full command of his face yet also remains well taken care of.

 

Not to Beard: Empire of the Sun

Bale was just a wee boy when he made Empire of the Sun, so his lack of beard probably should not come as a surprise. Even if he could grow one, it’s unlikely the look would have been a good match for the character he was playing.

 

To Beard: Reign of Fire

No one should ever fight a dragon without a beard, so obviously Bale brings his beard along for this role. This one’s much less prissy. While a little mustache heavy, the beard takes up his whole face and even has some bushiness to it. Obviously, he means business here.

 

Not to Beard: The Prestige

Narratively, there is one very good, very spoilery reason for Christian Bale’s character in The Prestige to keep his facial hair under strict control. Though he does have a funny mustache-goatee thing going for parts of the film, this is a mostly shaved performance. That doesn’t make it any easier to figure out of he’s a good guy or not.

 

To Beard: 3:10 to Yuma

It’s hard to pull off a performance in a Western without a little scruff. As such, Bale gets himself a frontier beard for this film, which pretty much ends up looking a lot like his other beards. But with his longer hair and dirty face, there’s no denying how cool it makes him. Unfortunately, Russell Crowe kind of steals the show.

 

Not to Beard: The Fighter

The Fighter tasks Bale with playing a super-skinny, weasel-faced drug addict who can’t get much of anything right. A beard would not only be out of place here but would also hide the amount of weight loss Bale suffered for the role. You can tell just by looking at his Dicky Eklund that he’s bad news, and his lack of beard is a big part of that.

 

The Verdict:

It’s a tough call. Without a beard, Christian Bale is able to physically embody a wider range of characters. Just compare the screenshot of him from American Psycho to how he looks in The Fighter for an example. On the other hand, bearded Bale just looks way cooler. It may just be a surface-level thing, but that counts for a lot and offers the actor an even wider variety of characters. When it comes to beard or no beards, we’re going beard.

 

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