Christian Bale's secret to packing on 40 pounds to play Dick Cheney: Pie – lots of pie

Have you seen Christian Bale around town recently? Would you even know if you did?

The artist formerly known as The Dark Knight has looked utterly unrecognizable since packing on the pounds to play former Vice President Dick Cheney in Adam McKay’s upcoming Backseat biopic, which recently wrapped production for release later this year.

“Now and then I like to shave my head, bleach my eyebrows and put on 40 pounds,” Bale said with a laugh while speaking to Yahoo Entertainment at the recent Los Angeles press day for the new drama Hostiles. In it, he plays an Army captain tasked transporting a dying Native American chief through treacherous frontier land in 1892.

Asked what he did to tip the scales, Bale said, “You eat a lot of pies. You eat whatever’s handy. That’s what you do.”

We’ve only seen glimpses of what the 43-year-old Englishman will look like as the now 76-year-old Cheney, who served as second in command to George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009. But we do know that the film, which also stars Amy Adams (Lynne Cheney), Sam Rockwell (Bush), Steve Carell (Donald Rumsfeld), and Tyler Perry (Colin Powell), will depict different stages in the politician’s life.

“This is more kind of a blank canvas through which these incredible artists could create the various ages of Cheney,” Bale said. “[My hair] has grown back in more. They would shave my head every day, bleach and pluck eyebrows.” He says he has yet to see whether his brows will grow back. “My wife tells me no, but I hope she’s wrong,” he said.

The surprising new look has allowed Bale, who has two young children, a bit of anonymity on the streets of L.A., where he lives.

“It’s been quite nice; it’s been quite enjoyable,” said the Oscar-winning star whose recent hits have included American Hustle, The Fighter, and McKay’s The Big Short. Bale, who dropped more than 60 pounds for the 2004 film The Machinist, added, “I have to say, people treat me very well regardless. I think they recognize I’m a family man and I focus on that. I’m not looking for attention. I just want to make great films.”

Bale continued, “I’m not someone who clamors after attention. I certainly enjoy people enjoying my work. I’m human; I like a pat on the back immensely. But other than that, I’m not seeking to be in the limelight. In fact, I very much enjoy acting because I’m becoming someone else.”

In this case, that happens to be a guy who probably has enjoyed a lot more pie than he has.

Hostiles is now playing in select cities and opens nationally Jan. 19.

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