An Auteur's Actor

Warner Bros./Courtesy of Everett Collection

From the beginning of his career, Christian Bale has won the hearts and minds of top directors.

Steven Spielberg: Bale was 12 when Spielberg cast him in Empire of the Sun, beating out 4,000 kids who also auditioned. Amy Irving, who was then married to the director, had recommended Bale after starring with him in the TV movie Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna.

Jane Campion: Bale played Edward Rosier in Campion's 1996 period pic The Portrait of a Lady, one of several films in which Bale portrayed a mild-mannered character, including the role of Laurie in Little Women.

Todd Haynes: Bale has starred in two of the director's films, Velvet Goldmine in 1998 and a decade later in I'm Not There, which also reunited Bale with Batman co-star Heath Ledger.

Terrence Malick: With the Batman franchise wrapped, Bale is making his next two movies with Malick, Lawless and Knight of Cups. The two first worked together on The New World in 2005.

Christopher Nolan: When casting Bale in Batman Begins, Nolan said he had just the right balance of "darkness and light." In between the two Batman movies, Bale made Nolan's The Prestige.

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