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How Did Christian Bale Learn To Play Drums In Two Weeks?

Is there anything Christian Bale can’t do? One of Hollywood’s most dedicated method actors, Bale has once again gone all out for his latest role. To get into the spirit of his character for the film The Big Short, Bale actually learned how to play drums over the course of two weeks by listening to Pantera and Mastodon.

In the Oscar-nominated film, Bale plays the real-life character Dr Michael Burry, a hedge fund manager who loves heavy metal. Burry likes to unwind from making the big bucks by playing the double kick-drum along to Pantera’s By Demons Be Driven.

Speaking to Screen Rant’s Don Kaye via Blabbermouth, Bale confirmed that he had indeed picked up the skills necessary for drumming in two weeks.

“Yes, yes, yes. It was a wonderful crash course. Double-kick drum, Pantera ‘By Demons Be Driven’ — a fantastic song to begin with. This is how Mike Burry unwound. This is actually how he calmed down. He would listen to it all day long in his headphones — and not just that; Mastodon as well. But his brain is on fire so much that death metal calms him. He’s a very, very different individual to most of us.”

However, just before filming was meant to commence for The Big Short, Bale blew out his knee while bouncing on the trampoline with his kids. “He completely blew out his knee — ACL, MCL, patella, everything,” said director Adam McKay in an interview with Studio 360. McKay suggested have a body double fill in for Bale, but he told him, “No, no. It’s gonna be all right. Let me just do it.”

Bale didn’t go at it alone, though. With the help of drummer Scott Wittenburg, he managed to pick up the right skills despite his blown out knee. Wittenberg, a member of Zen Robbi, is a drum teacher at the Musicians Institute. Speaking to Pitchfork, Wittenburg told Pitchfork how he ended up becoming the actor’s teacher.

“Well, I’ve been teaching the heavy metal class at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California for about 10 years. And Paramount Pictures called the school, asking if my boss had any guys he could refer. He gave a few names out, and I guess based off my metal background and teaching the metal class, I was the guy.”

On a scale of Bale-level dedication, this is nothing, however. For his role in The Machinist, Bale lost almost 29 kilos (or 33 per cent of his body weight) to get into character. If you think that’s impressive, then consider only 6 weeks after The Machinist Bale had his first screen test for Batman, a role which required him to bulk up rapidly.