Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: Christian Bale

 Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman is an intimate look at the actor, Christian Bale, by his assistant and former publicist, Harrison Cheung, along with reporter Nicola Pittam. According to Cheung, he's the one who rocketed Bale to stardom.

Cheung began an online fan site for Bale long before such sites were the norm. The Internet was still pretty much in its infancy. For years, he focused on Bale and was the driving force behind Bale's rise to stardom. So much so, that Bale eventually hired him. Cheung ended up living and working with Bale for almost ten years.

The book doesn’t focus on Cheung, though. It's a tale of Bale, who doesn’t come across as a particularly likable person. Cheung does, however, show how committed and driven he is. Bale throws himself completely into characters. Doing whatever it took to become that character, including losing incredible amounts of weight when the role called for it. He would change himself into that character. At times, Bale is unable to control his anger, either with his family or on set. He does, also, come across as an actor totally immersed in the characters he played and dedicated to stepping into their skin, no matter the cost to himself.

We are taken from when Christian Bale was a child actor to years later when he took on his most known role as Batman in the movie, The Dark Knight. And I admit that as soon as I finished reading Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman, I loaded my copy of The Dark Knight and watched it. Having a new understanding of the actor, I saw the movie and the role differently. Knowing how completely Christian Bale becomes the character he's playing makes you worry about what kind of toll it takes on him. This book isn't a fan book. Christian doesn't always come across as likable. But in ways, it helps the reader understand Christian. Cheung shows the sad childhood of Bale. Keeping the family afloat and housed fell on Bale's shoulders, even as a child.

This is an interesting book, whether you're in the movie industry or not. For those who are entering the field, it can be a cautionary tale. For those of us who are not, it's a look behind the red curtain and into obsession.

I give Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman a rating of Hel-of-a-Story.
Disclaimer: I do not know Christian Bale. I do not know Harrison Cheung, although I did meet him when we were both doing readings at Central Market. It was at that event that he gave me a copy of his book. After reading Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman, I wish I had the money to hire Cheung to promote me and my books. He took Bale from an unknown to a huge star. 


  1. I think he's a great actor - and great to look at - but I've heard a lot about his anger issues and immersive personality. That kind of dedication requires the drive of someone beyond what most of us can imagine.

    1. I agree, Diane. Just reading it at times made me scared for him.


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