Christian Bale Admits Those Movie Transformations Turned Him and Matt Damon Into "Grumpy Old Men"

The actors get real about transforming their bodies for roles in an new interview with British GQ

By Elyse Dupre Oct 01, 2019 3:20 PMTags
Christian Bale, Matt DamonSam Jones for British GQ

For years, audiences have watched Matt Damon and Christian Bale undergo physical transformations for roles. For instance, Bale lost weight for his part in The Machinist and Damon spent several hours each day training for his Jason Bourne movies. Now that Bale and Damon are a few years older—45 and 48, respectively—fans have to wonder: How much longer can they keep doing this to their bodies?

"When you're younger and you get those micro tears you feel like, ‘Man, I'm really getting some control in my mind here.' And then at 45 you go, ‘What am I still doing this s--it for?'" Bale told British GQ in an interview published Tuesday. "One time I was doing a scene with a stuntman in his 60s and he kept on having to fall off his horse and land on his head. I looked at him and just went, ‘I wonder if he ever imagined this was what he was going to be doing when he was in his 60s?' He landed on his head like nobody else. He jumped back up! But stuntmen never like to show that they've got hurt. If they've broken their arm, they'll try to tell you they haven't. With all due respect to the man, I don't want to be doing that sort of thing when I'm in my 60s. I used to love going on my dirt bike, and I loved falling off it. Loved crashing. It was so much fun, coming back with blood pouring off your arm. Now, I'm like, ‘God, please. I can't come off here now, because I know I might never get back up again.' 

Then, with a chuckle, he added: "We're sitting here like Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. We're grumpy old men! We can't do it no more!"

Christian Bale's Drastic Movie Transformations

In fact, Bale admitted he got a herniated disc after Tom Hardy failed to hear "cut" while filming The Dark Knight Rises.

"Yes. I'm still sitting right now with some pain," he told the magazine. "If I don't exercise–which, being English, is not in my blood to want to do that–I kind of go, 'Do I have to?' But everybody gets that, don't they? We're going to start talking about our ailments. 'Did I ever tell you about my surgery?' No fault of Tom's, by the way–he couldn't hear in that mask."

Sam Jones for British GQ

Now, Bale and Damon are starring alongside each other in the film Le Mans '66. In the movie, Damon plays American car designer Carroll Shelby and Bale plays British driver Ken Miles. The two build a race car for the Ford Motor Company and challenge the prominent racing vehicles of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours Le Mans in France in 1966. But don't be fooled: The two aren't exactly car experts in real life.

"I speak for myself here, but you actually brought it up one time on set... I was trying to still pretend that I knew anything about cars and how to fix them. But you try to get either of us to fix anything?" Bale asked, to which Damon replied, "Forget about it!" 

The same can also be said in terms of Damon's math expertise, which is depicted in Good Will Hunting.

"There are parts of Good Will Hunting where you go, 'Yes. Some of that stuff [is] all me and Ben [Affleck],'" he said. "Ben was just telling me the other day that he needed help to help his daughter with her math homework. Neither of us can do math! It's not like, 'That's us!'"

To read the dynamic duo's full interview, check out the November issue of British GQ.