Christian Bale reveals his unlikely acting inspiration

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Christian Bale (Credit: Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

Christian Bale has revealed the unlikely inspiration for his acting career.

In an interview with GQ, the Oscar winner has said that it was Blackadder, Not The Nine O'Clock News and Mr Bean star Rowan Atkinson who made the biggest impression on him.

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Bale, who was a child actor, starred in a production of Larry Shue's play The Nerd with Atkinson in the West End in 1984, when he was 10 years old.

“One of [my] first jobs ever was with Rowan Atkinson and I think I look at him as the template,” he told the magazine.

“He would come out, we’d say hello, but he didn’t really socialise. None of us knew him – it was before he did Mr Bean.

Rowan Atkinson (Credit: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty)

“And he would just become this character, but before he went on stage. And I would just watch him; I would see him becoming a character. I was mesmerised. It dawned on me that was my learning phase. I went, 'Oh, that’s how it’s done then, is it? OK, great'.”

Bale made his first movie two years later, the made-for-TV Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, with Rex Harrison and Omar Sharif, before landing his breakthrough role, playing Jim Graham in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Empire of The Sun, where he appears in virtually every scene.

The actress Amy Irving, who appeared in Anastasia with Bale, was married to Spielberg at the time, and recommended he audition the 12-year-old.

He won the role after more than 4000 young actors tried out for it, and as well as featuring stars like John Malkovich, Nigel Havers and Miranda Richardson, it also featured a 21-year-old Ben Stiller in only his second movie role.

Bale is next up in James Mangold’s racing drama Le Man ‘66 opposite Matt Damon, due out on November 15.