The unsuspected link between Christian Bale’s role in American Psycho and Tom Cruise: how ‘Maverick’ influenced the actor

Without a doubt, American Psycho is one of the most acclaimed and, at the same time, interesting films ever made.

But did you know that Tom Cruise has some connection to this film? Obviously, you might be thinking that the director’s first choice for the lead role was Maverick himself.

Or, equally, it might cross your mind that Tom Cruise gave Christian Bale valuable advice that later helped the latter create the iconic character he played.

None of these assumptions are close to the truth, however, as you’ll learn from this article below.

Christian Bale, as Patrick Bateman, in the film American Psycho (2000)

American Psycho, a unique film

If you’re doing the rough math, it’s been two full decades since its release, and it wouldn’t be a lie to say that Mary Harron’s American Psycho is a full-blown horror classic that has earned its place in the “cult” film showcase over the years.

With a screenplay based on Bret Easton Ellis’s gripping novel of the same name, Harron and co-writer Guinevere Turner have produced a film that can be considered an exceptional social commentary on corporate America.

They also breathed new life into Ellis’s satirical examination of toxic masculinity, and that was before a phrase for it was invented.

“American Psycho” tells the story of Patrick Bateman, a handsome, charming and dashing young professional living in New York City in 1987.

By day, Bateman seems like a regular narcissistic guy, the kind you meet a hundred or so if you go to a bar, but by night he’s an extremely “gifted” serial killer who collects a record number of dead bodies on his “resume.”

So a detective (played by Willem Dafoe) begins to investigate and get closer to the truth Bateman is trying to hide.

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One of the official posters for the film American Psycho (2000) / Pictured: Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman

Christian Bale wasn’t the first choice, but he turned out to be by far the best

Christian Bale’s portrayal of Patrick Bateman is considered to be unique, with the actor becoming highly regarded soon after. However, he was not the first choice of the production team. Can you imagine this role being played by anyone else? Neither can we.

Producer Edward R. Pressman bought the film rights to the novel in 1992, and soon after, Johnny Depp was targeted for the lead role, with “Re-Animator” director Stuart Gordon leading the charge.

The project went through a variety of changes, with Lionsgate wanting Edward Norton, Ewan McGregor or Leonardo DiCaprio to play Bateman.

Harron, however, struggled to bring in Christian Bale, who turned down roles in the hope that he would soon play the character.

Fortunately, all these efforts paid off, and Bale’s performance helped the actor become the Hollywood superstar he is today.

That acting performance, however, wouldn’t have been the same if it weren’t for Tom Cruise, for example – which brings us to the main topic of this article.

Tom Cruise’s inadvertent “contribution”

Christian Bale’s acting performance as Patrick Bateman is particularly disturbing, given how realistic it seems to so many people. Practically speaking, the character is unfortunately extremely relevant even today.

In an interview to mark the film’s 20th anniversary, Mary Harron confessed that one of the biggest inspirations for Bale’s performance was Tom Cruise himself. No, not a character he played, but the actor himself.

Harron had, at the time, challenged Bale to think of Bateman as an alien studying human nature, which inspired him to study, first and foremost, how Tom Cruise behaves in public.

Specifically, the actor was guided by an interview Cruise gave in 1999 on Late Night with David Letterman.

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If you happen to search for the interview on YouTube, the first result might be tagged “Tom Cruise goes crazy live on Letterman”. For reference, find that clip attached in the footer of the article.

Accordingly, Christian Bale wasn’t the only one to notice certain behavioral traits in Cruise during that interview. He described what he saw as “a feeling of intense friendliness, but nothing behind the eyes.”

Tom Cruise is one of those actors who refuses to step out of the “movie star” perspective, even when he’s not filming, which is the perfect description of Patrick Bateman, who thrives on his ability to convince those around him that he’s right in absolutely any circumstance.

Cruise is obviously not an undercover serial killer, but he does seem to behave rather bizarrely in public. Basically, it gives the impression of falseness, broadly speaking.

In order for Bateman to allay suspicion about his true nature, he has to consistently play a dual role, presenting a charming attitude to cover up the rage he keeps bottled up inside.

Ironically, musician and actor Miles Fisher is clear proof that Tom Cruise and Patrick Bateman are two sides of the same coin.

The “Final Destination 5” star has gone viral several times for his videos imitating Tom Cruise, most notably for “Tom Cruise: 2020 Presidential Announcement.”

Fisher first parodied the actor in 2008’s “Superhero Movie” and continues to do so to this day.

Immediately after “Superhero Movie”, Fisher released a video for the Talking Heads’ song “This Must”, where he parodied American Psycho to some extent. Here, Bateman’s most iconic moments were showcased, Fisher pulling it off with stunning accuracy.

Watching the two videos side-by-side can become uncomfortable, because while the characters played by Tom Cruise and Patrick Bateman are obviously very different, there is still an uncanny level of similarity between the man Tom Cruise and the character Bateman.

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