The actor, 48, has gained quite the reputation for his roles in a range of hit movies, including The Machinist, The Big Short, and — of course — the entire Dark Knight trilogy.
But before all of these films came out, Christian starred in Mary Harron’s iconic thriller American Psycho, which was released in 2000.
The film was immediately a huge success, grossing $34 million on a $7 million budget. Meanwhile, Christian’s performance as the leading character, Patrick Bateman, was incredibly well received.
And this overwhelming praise has only continued to grow over the years, with American Psycho now deemed an undeniable cult classic.
But it turns out that Christian, who sat down with GQ last week to reflect on the role, was actually paid the “absolute minimum” legally permitted despite playing the main character.
“They had paid me the absolute minimum they were legally allowed to pay me,” he said, before explaining that his shared house at the time was getting repossessed.
“I had a house that I was sharing with my dad and my sister and that was getting repossessed,” he said. “So the first thing was: ‘Holy crap. I’ve got to get a bit of money.’”
And Christian went on to reveal that the makeup artists on set were getting paid more than him, before recalling the time he was laughed at by them over the whole thing.
“I remember one time sitting in the make-up trailer and the make-up artists were laughing at me because I was getting paid less than any of them,” he said.
“And so that was my motivation after that. It was just: ‘I got to get enough that the house doesn't get repossessed,’” he added.
Given that Christian was not only cast as the protagonist but had also already starred in both Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun and Gillian Armstrong’s Little Women, several fans were pretty shocked by this revelation.
“UR TELLING ME THEY UNDERPAID CHRISTIAN BALE FOR AMERICAN PSYCHO?” one person tweeted.
“Christian Bale’s latest reveal of his minimal pay for American Psycho is a reminder that everyone in the entertainment industry goes through hard times no matter how ‘famous’ they are,” wrote another.
Others called the entire thing “unfair” and “sad,” arguing that Christian’s commitment to portraying the film’s protagonist was deserving of a much higher wage.
Elsewhere during the interview, Christian discussed how the role of Patrick Bateman was first offered to Leonardo DiCaprio.
Responding to the interviewer’s claim that Leo was “cast ahead” of Christian for the role, the Dark Knight actor said that “any role that anybody gets” in Hollywood has been passed on by Leo beforehand.
“Look, to this day, any role that anybody gets, it’s only because [Leo’s] passed on it beforehand,” Christian said. "It doesn’t matter what anyone tells you. It doesn’t matter how friendly you are with the directors."
“All those people that I’ve worked with multiple times, they all offered every one of those roles to him first. Right? I had one of those people actually tell me that. So, thank you, Leo, because literally, he gets to choose everything he does. And good for him, he’s phenomenal,” he added.
And when asked if he ever "took that personally," Christian maintained that he was incredibly “grateful” to have been offered the role regardless.
“Do you know how grateful I am to get any damn thing? I mean, I can’t do what he does. I wouldn’t want the exposure that he has either. And he does it magnificently. But I would suspect that almost everybody of similar age to him in Hollywood owes their careers to him passing on whatever project it is,” he said.