Bale first caught the public eye at the age of 13, when he was cast in the starring role of Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun (1987). Based on the original story by J. G. Ballard, Bale played an English boy who is separated from his parents and subsequently finds himself lost in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. In 2000, he garnered critical acclaim for his portrayal of serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. He is known for going to great lengths to portray characters in films, notably for the psychological thriller The Machinist (2004), where he lost 63 pounds (28.5 kg) to play the role of Trevor Reznik.
Bale went on to receive greater commercial recognition for his starring role as Batman in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). His portrayal of Dicky Eklund in the David O. Russell-directed biographical film The Fighter (2010), earned him critical acclaim and a number of awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He has since gained further acclaim as well as subsequent Academy Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe nominations for his roles in Russell's American Hustle (2013) and Adam McKay's The Big Short (2015).