Over the last 35 years, Christian Bale has cultivated a career on the big screen to rival that of just about any star currently working or to have ever worked in the acting industry.
Stellar turns as the Caped Crusader in a game-changing Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, exceptional Oscar-nominated and winning performances in the likes of Vice and The Fighter, and the unforgettable transformation the star put himself through to bring the stick thin Trevor Reznik to life in The Machinist are just a number of his truly stellar offerings to date.
However, there's an argument to be made that absolutely none of these subsequent showings would've been possible without a role that, on the surface, looked like a potential career-ender when it was initially pitched.
But here we are, 20 years on from the star's impressive work as the unhinged-yet-immaculately-groomed serial killer Patrick Bateman and it's hard to look past American Psycho as the project that took Bale from teenage heartthrob to acting force to be reckoned with.
But what precise elements made Bale's Bateman such a masterful piece of art to behold? Inspired improvisation, fierce dedication to the job, and some frankly inhuman abilities are but a few of the little details the remarkable actor brought to the unsettling table...
8. Jumping Rope Like A Schoolgirl Was Not Planned
One of the key things that separates a good actor from a great one is the ability to add something fresh and unexpected to the mix in a scene. In other words, understanding a character so well that you can improvise and think on your feet should you feel an impulse to take things in a different direction in the moment.
On numerous occasions throughout the filming of American Psycho, Bale demonstrated this acute understanding of who Bateman was and how he'd react in certain situations, regardless of whether it was written down in the script or not.
You've likely already heard of Bale surprising director Mary Harron with his unanticipated dance moves in the lead up to killing Paul Allen. But the star also went with his gut on two other occasions. During that same scene, Bale's moonwalk en-route to hiding his weapon of choice, an axe, was a spur of the moment choice. And in the midst of one of his habitual training routines, nobody on-set knew Bale would begin performing jump rope tricks like a school girl in a playground.
All of these moments brilliantly inform a character capable of making you laugh one minute and feel sick the next.