American Psycho: How Tom Cruise inspired Patrick Bateman in Bale

From Freddie from Nightmare to Jason on Friday the 13th, we have seen our fair share of psychopaths. But American Psycho completely redefined the genre when it introduced an investment banker who’s a murderer for fun. Here’s how Tom Cruise inspired Christian Bale when he portrayed Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.

The year 2000 witnessed an ensemble of Hollywood’s finest actors and actresses assembled to bring together an iconic horror that would become a cult classic. The slasher genre has never been devoid of soulless monsters in humanoid forms. Directed by Mary Harron who co-wrote the screenplay together with Guinevere Turner, American Psycho was a 2000 horror-dark comedy blend film.

American Psycho still resonates as a cult-classic

American Psycho
Courtesy of IMDB

American Psycho is based on the 1991 novel of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis. Many since the ages have considered Patrick Bateman (played by Bale) to be the symbolic representation of the greedy consumerism that has enveloped a bustling capitalist society.

What’s special about Christian Bale and Patrick Bateman in American Psycho

Of the many features of Bale’s character as Batman, I mean Bateman, the most profound was the dichotomy his character portrayed.

A brief of what pop-culture vs psychological understanding of Psychopathy is like

  • Psychologists have throughout the ages defined Psychopathy as a neuropsychiatric disorder.
    • Contrary to pop-culture understanding, psychopaths aren’t directly equivalent to savage beasts.
  • Psychopathy is a condition that Psychology marks with the absence of proper emotional responding capabilities. There’s a general lack of empathy and very poor behavioral control among the subjects.
    • Such a condition results (mostly and usually) in these people leaning towards antisocial, deviant, and criminal behavior.
Christian Bale Patrick Bateman
Christian Bale with his chiseled body and over-the-top makeup in American Psycho, via IMDB

A BlackBookMag interview with American Psycho director Mary Harron revealed more of this. Mary Harron spoke greatly of what kind of character she wanted Bale to portray.

  1. The general idea was to go hack and slash blood all over 80’s wall street. Symbolic gestures of the consumerist devil within each and everyone in a world filled with money laundering and greed for coins.
  2. Patrick Bateman also needed to represent the common conditions of psychopathy. Harron revealed that she and Christian Bale sat down many a time to discuss his role.

The Christian Bale Patrick Bateman portrayal made the audience uncomfortable

Patrick Bateman inspiration Tom Cruise in American Psycho
courtesy IMDB
  • Christian Bale’s acting was, in a few opinions, quite extravagant and exaggerated. Different fans have stated it as so because of Patrick Bateman’s larger-than-life imagination and reactions within his head.
  • Something about his personality makes the audience uncomfortable. Patrick Bateman often wears a big grin on his face, one that is quite indistinguishable from his presence. Yet underlying this grin and happy smile is something devoid of soul.

How Tom Cruise inspired Christian Bale to play Patrick Bateman

In the same interview, Mary Harron recalled that one day Bale called her and told her that he had found his inspiration.

  1. The inspiration came from Tom Cruise who during a David Letterman interview kept having a very friendly countenance. Now this doesn’t mean Bale is accusing Tom of being a vindictive American Psycho.
  2. It is just that the gesture of that smile on one’s face, irrespective of whether Tom is a true psychopath or not, is something very eerie.
  3. Bale caught onto that eerieness and tried to replicate it on his portrayal of Patrick Bateman. Taken back by Tom’s energy, he knew it should work in the corporate context that Bateman was part of.

Why this doesn’t justify hating Tom Cruise 

Tom Cruise Patrick Bateman

Although this could easily be the case that that’s just how Cruise is. A good person with a big smile and very focused eyes that lock onto you like an AI-aided missile.

How acting can affect the actor long term

  • But it is also likely that years into the industry as an actor scapes off some of the acting jobs to real life as well. It is very noted that sometimes portrayals of certain roles affect the actor in the long run.
  • What if one has portrayed a character outside of his films so many times that now it is a part of him?

Even normal individuals are prone to this

  • Not only actors, but each individual himself also carries such masks. How we interact with our teachers is different from how we interact with our friends and neighbors.
  • The difference is in the level of openness we have found with the individual and how comfortable we are in showing them our inner side.


Who inspired Christian Bale For Patrick Bateman
Jared Leto and Christian Bale in American Psycho, via IMDB

Tom Cruise is a superstar. One can see many interviews and red-carpet events of him where he has been extremely polite and nice to his ‘subjects’ so to speak. This thing didn’t really hit my mind until now. I always considered Tom a very nice person despite reaching his stardom heights as Hollywood’s one of the top actor.

But after listening to our Dark Knight Rises’ Batman who portrayed Bateman in American Psycho, I was elated to look at Cruise a little differently than before. If you venture to do the same, please heed it and don’t make it a permanent impression change of Cruise.

Also Read: God of War: Ragnarok – How to defeat Gryla

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