Saturday, December 3, 2011

Random Thoughts, Vol. 3: The Hood, the Bat, and the Ugly, Or, Why Christian Bale May Just Be The Second-Greatest Actor of His Generation

My favorite part of the The Dark Knight is when Christian Bale puts on the batsuit and magically turns into Clint Eastwood.

I know he’s supposed to be talking about the Joker or whatever, but whenever he has the mask on and his voice hits that suddenly gravely, no-nonsense tone, I’m always ready for him to say things like: “I don’t teach girls how to box.” Stay away from my Gran Torino.” Or, “I can’t seem to change my facial expression.”

I think it’s a credit to Christian Bale’s craft that he is able to keep himself from saying lines such as these and stick to the script he’s given. A lesser actor might not be able to focus. But not Bale. He can talk like Batman and sound like Eastwood without a moment’s distraction – a sort of A-lister version of being able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

But what’s even more surprising is that Christian Bale turning into Clint Eastwood isn’t even the most amazing feat of acting in The Dark Knight. There is another actor who uses a deft combination of skill, commitment, and makeup to create a transformation so complete and unexpected it is wholly astounding.

I’m referring, of course, to when Katie Holmes magically turns into Maggie Gyllenhaal.

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