4 February 2014 8:59 AM, PST | Thompson on Hollywood | See recent Thompson on Hollywood news »

Meeting Christian Bale for the first time, you realize how much baggage you are bringing into the room. It's because he has shown so much intensity, shape-shifting and commitment in a range of roles that are far more consistently memorable than most actors can claim over a long career, launched 26 years ago with Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun." He doesn't agree-- a sign of the high standards to which he holds himself, which have served him well.Clearly he knows how to pick roles-- and deliver. He finally landed a Best Actor nomination for "American Hustle." Bale is pleasant and forthright as he talks about his latest performances in two excellent films hitting theaters during the height of award season. He'd rather talk, though, about hard-working factory welder Russell Baze, a good man trapped by an unforgiving world in Scott Cooper's carefully structured rust-belt drama "Out of the Furnace, »


- Anne Thompson

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