Conflicted by fame and celebrity, Christian Bale has often voiced misgivings about being an actor, admitted to being depressed during lengthy breaks between jobs, and has given in to headline-grabbing fits of rage on sets.
But the Brit, 42, has mellowed over the years as his success has grown and while he is not keen to do publicity for his movies, he does so with good humour that seems more forthcoming than before.
We are at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills to talk about his latest Oscar-nominated flick The Big Short, which deals with the global financial crisis of recent years and the four men who foresaw it and made billions of dollars betting against the US economy.
Bale plays Dr Michael Burry, an eccentric hedge fund manager with a glass eye who suffers from Asperger's syndrome. The part has gained him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.
His scenes were shot in an office with Bale talking on the telephone and director Adam McKay on the other end.
Burry, 44, was the only person in the story who allowed his name to be used. He regularly visited the set and also appeared as an extra.
Bale thinks Burry is a genius and spent a lot of time with him while researching the character.
Burry was especially particular about what Bale wore to portray him and even sent the actor a package of clothes to wear in The Big Short, which is also nominated at the upcoming Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. The movie currently is showing here.
Bale tells M: "He will only wear Thorn guitar T-shirts and certain sandals, and doesn't like wearing socks. He owns one suit and gets his hair cut at Supercuts."
Like his co-stars Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling, Bale claims not to know anything about stock markets and investing.
"(The knowledge) went in there and stayed in there when we were filming, and then it went right out of there, so don't ask me."
He did however, play a homicidal investment banker in American Psycho (2000) earlier in his career.
"Back then, I had gone to Wall Street to meet with those kinds of Wall Street guys, the very antithesis of what Mike is, with no altruism whatsoever, guys who worshipped money."
Is he fearful of a similar financial disaster happening again?
"I think the thing that the film does so well is that even for the likes of me, you understand the consequences of it on the Everyman and how devastating it can be... Clearly, it does seem like it's just gone back to business as usual.
"It would be good if this started an intelligent conversation about making some real change, and how wonderful if the film did become a game changer," he says.
This article was first published on February 10, 2016.
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