Christian Bale has a unique look in David O. Russell’s 9th film, Amsterdam (2022), and his hair in particular has an interesting story behind it. Amsterdam stars Bale, Margot Robbie, and John David Washington as three longtime friends embroiled in the historical Business Plot, a United States political conspiracy that occurred in 1933. Bale plays Burt Berendsen, a doctor and veteran of WWI which left him with a glass eye, a large scar across his face, and a back brace. Despite his injuries and constant pain, Burt has devoted himself to helping other injured veterans from the war, and he does so with gusto and vigor.
Amsterdam is the third collaboration between Russell and Bale. They first worked together on The Fighter (2010) where Bale plays real-life character Dicky Ecklund, a former boxer and drug addict, a role which earned Bale an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Their second movie, American Hustle (2013), stars Bale as Irving Rosenfeld, a conman and FBI informant. Amsterdam was not as well received as those earlier partnerships, but there are many bright spots in the movie, and Bale’s zany, vaudeville-like performance is one of them. Burt’s style and hair go a long way to rounding out the character.
Christian Bale’s Long Hair Was Based On Samuel Beckett & Cinematographer Chivo Lubezki
Credited as a producer and involved in pre-production, Bale shared in an interview promoting Amsterdam that it took him and Russell six years to put the movie together. At one point, Bale saw a photo of Irish novelist Samuel Beckett, and decided his upright hairstyle would work well for Burt. Soon after, on a Zoom call with Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, the film’s award-winning cinematographer, Bale noticed his, “…fantastic thick head of curly hair.” Bale asked his stylist to combine that perm look with Beckett’s upright do, and Burt was born.
Burt’s hairdo in Amsterdam is a necessary aspect of the character. As one of Amsterdam‘s main characters, Burt is the odd man out in the romance between characters Valerie Voze (Robbie) and Harold Woodman (Washington), and is he ever odd. Burt spends most of his day creating pain pills for his patients and testing them on himself, often with unexpected results. Burt’s hair sticks up like a mad scientist’s which in some ways he is, and the curls are reminiscent of a clown wig, a role which he also often inhabits. It’s a signature combination that describes the character without needing him to say a word.
Bale Has A History Of Transforming Himself For Movie Roles
Getting an eccentric hairdo for Amsterdam is on the mild end of character transformations Bale has undergone. For a time, Bale was known for the drastic, bordering on dangerous, bodily transformations he would go through. In The Machinist (2004), Bale lost 62 pounds to portray an insomniac. After the movie finished shooting, he regained the weight in only six weeks for Batman Begins, as mentioned in an interview with RadioFree. Rescue Dawn (2006) and The Fighter also saw Bale slim down to an alarmingly lightweight. Focusing on bodily transformations less related to physical health may be a better tact for the actor.