New year starts out on Bale

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Most of us will begin 2014 with fresh resolutions to shape up and get fitter this year,

But acclaimed actor Christian Bale will kick off the new year on our screens unashamedly showing off his paunch and ‘moobs’.

That’s what happens in the first five minutes of American Hustle, as Bale’s character conman Irving Rosenfeld, stands in front of the mirror tending to his comb-over.

It’s quite a transformation for the actor who’s played Batman on three occasions, but it’s not the first time he’s dramatically changed his body for a role.

Back in 2004, he became emaciated in order to portray an insomniac in The Machinist, and then lost weight again to play a drug addict in David O. Russell’s The Fighter in 2010.

Bale’s now reunited with the director for his waist-expanding role in American Hustle, set in the 1970’s.

Bale couldn’t wait to immerse himself “in such a wonderfully, exuberant era”, he reveals, and that’s despite the questionable fashion.

“It was like Halloween for a decade; the colours were garish. The style was just phenomenal for us to look back on, but the people themselves were no different to now,” he says.

“I’m always interested in what David’s making. I always know it’s going to be really fascinating and will hopefully become very, very memorable for many years to come,”

Bale, along with Melissa Leo, won an Oscar for The Fighter, while co-star Amy Adams received a nomination. Russell then led Jennifer Lawrence to Oscar glory in Silver Linings Playbook, while her fellow actors Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver all got nods (the first time in over 30 years that a single film had seen actors nominated in all categories).

Award success looks set to continue, with Bale, Lawrence, Adams and Cooper already recipients of Golden Globe nominations for American Hustle.

Bale is known for being intense, particularly on set, as one unfortunate crew member on Terminator Salvation discovered when the actor accused him of being a distraction and launched into a foul-mouthed tirade.

But Bale makes no apologies about taking his craft very seriously.

“Everybody dreams at night. They tend to go a little insane and that’s acceptable. To me, acting’s like dreaming in a waking state, as you get to study people, go a little insane and be obsessive about something, and it’s expected.

I find that very addictive,” says the actor who, aged 13, landed a starring role in Steven Spielberg’s Empire Of The Sun, after the director spotted him in a TV mini-series called Anastasia: The Mystery Of Anna.

Much like the method actor Daniel Day-Lewis, his ability to ‘disappear’ into the character is one of Bale’s hallmarks.

American Hustle is in cinemas across the country.