Disturbing Story From “Machinist” Set

When it comes to suffering physically for your art, no-one has yet to really top the frightening weight loss that Christian Bale pulled off for the thriller “The Machinist” a decade ago.

The just over six-foot tall actor dropped to a shockingly gaunt 55kg (121 pounds). It was at this most severe point in his weight loss that one of his co-stars in the film, Michael Ironside, had a disturbing encounter with the actor which Ironside revealed in a Reddit AMA yesterday:

I remember on The Machinist, I came to work one day, and we were shooting in Barcelona, Spain, and our trailers were these little Spanish 2-wheeled cabanas that were parked in front of this actual working machine shop. And I heard “pssst…Michael!” from behind one of the cabanas.

And I went over, and it was Chris. And he said, “Can you look at this?” And he turned and dropped his overalls, which he was naked under. And he had lost an INCREDIBLE amount of weight for the character. And he said “Michael, there’s something wrong with my ass, can you have a look?”

And the muscles in his ass had literally dropped out of the sockets of his hips. The dignity of the muscles, his ass had literally dropped out of the hips and thigh bones. And I said, “Hey Chris, your ass has dropped.” And he said, “What do you mean?”

And I said, “You’ve stopped losing body fat, and now you’re actually losing elasticity of muscles” – I forget the exact medical term for it, but I said, “You’ve gone beyond body fat, and now you’re into actual muscle tissue and things are being affected.”

And he turned – I wasn’t sure how he was going to react – and he turned, and said, “Cool”. And I said to him “Cool?” He said “Yeah, I made weight today.” And what he meant was that when he writer wrote the script, the writer was 5 foot six and he put his own weights in, so he used his own weights for somebody who would be losing weight.

So Chris made the weight of either 137 or 127 – so he said “Don’t change the weights in the script, I want to see if I can make them.” And that was the day they shot the scene with him and the love interest, Jen Lee – it’s the scene where he’s in the bathroom and she says “are you losing weight” and he turns and looks like a skeleton.

So the weights he puts on the wall, that is his ACTUAL weight. He wanted to make the weights that the original writer put in, in relation to himself. And Christian is 6 foot, 2 inches. And he did. He started putting on weight again after that day… When I saw him again at Sundance 6 months later, he had put on almost 60 pounds of muscle to get ready for Batman. He walked in and looked like a linebacker.

It’s a great read for fans of the always fascinating Ironside whom has countless stories from his long career. Click here for the full read.