The Oscar winner lost (gulp!) 60 lbs. for 2004’s The Machinist, then bulked up and got ripped for Batman Begins before going back to being boney-thin for The Fighter, which netted him an Oscar in 2011 for Best Supporting Actor.
Now, he’s gained 43 lbs. to play a ’70s con artist in the Abscam-inspired crime drama American Hustle.
To fatten up, “I ate lots of doughnuts, a whole lot of cheeseburgers and whatever I could get my hands on. I literally ate anything that came my way,” Bale, 39, told PEOPLE at Friday’s Peggy Siegel and OPI screening of the buzzy film in New York City. “I was about 185 and went up to 228. I’m still working it off.”
The significant extra pounds caused Bale to grow a protruding belly (nope, it wasn’t a prosthetic), which he proudly shows off in the movie. The onetime Batman even cut off all his hair in order to effectively portray a balding man who glues and hairsprays a toupee onto his head.
With such a drastic transformation, did Sibi Blazic, his wife of 13 years, still fancy him?
“She’s seen me in many different, hideous guises, and she tolerates me no matter how I look,” he says. “I’m grateful to have a very patient and loving wife.”
And what about Bale’s 8-year-old daughter, Emmeline?
“She found it funny,” the English actor said with a smile. “Having a big old gut and a bald head, she would slap it and tease me. She had lots of fun and found it amusing.”