How Christian Bale's American Psycho Performance Was Influenced By Tom Cruise

Now that it's been two whole decades since its release, it feels safe to say that Mary Harron's "American Psycho" is a bona fide horror classic. Based on the gripping Bret Easton Ellis novel of the same name, Harron and co-screenwriter Guinevere Turner created a biting critique of corporate America and breathed new life into Ellis' satirical examination of toxic masculinity before we had a word for it. "American Psycho" tells the story of Patrick Bateman, a handsome, young, white-collar professional in 1987 New York City. By day, Bateman seems like a standard narcissistic greed-hound, but by night, he's a serial killer building up a hefty body count. His fiance (Reese Witherspoon) is none the wiser, but after killing his coworker Paul Allen (Jared Leto), a detective (Willem Dafoe) starts inching closer to Bateman's extra-curricular activities, causing his grasp on his double life to slip.

Christian Bale's performance as Patrick Bateman is considered one of the best, but he wasn't the original choice for the iconic role. Producer Edward R. Pressman bought the film rights to the novel in 1992, with Johnny Depp eyed for the lead role and "Re-Animator" director Stuart Gordon at the top of the list. The project went through a variety of hands, with Lionsgate pursuing Edward Norton, Ewan McGregor, and Leonardo DiCaprio for the lead. Harron, however, fought for Christian Bale, who turned down roles in the hopes that he would soon be playing the character. Fortunately, it all paid off, and Bale's performance helped catapult him into Hollywood superstardom. That performance, however, wouldn't have been the same if it wasn't for an unlikely hero ... Tom Cruise

'Intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes'

Christian Bale's performance as Patrick Bateman is especially haunting, considering how realistic it seems to so many people we witness in real life. In an interview regarding the film's 20th anniversary, Mary Harron confessed that one of the biggest inspirations for Bale's performance was Tom Cruise himself, not Cruise's portrayal of a specific movie character. Harron had challenged Bale to think of Bateman like an alien studying human nature, which inspired him to study the energy of Tom Cruise. Specifically, Tom Cruise during a 1999 interview on "Late Night with David Letterman." If you look up the interview on YouTube, the first result is labeled "Tom Cruise goes crazy live on Letterman," so Bale was seemingly not alone in his assessment of this particular moment. Bale described his energy as "a very intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes."

Tom Cruise is one of those actors who exists in the constant state of "movie star," even when off set, which makes for a perfect inspiration for someone like Patrick Bateman who thrives off of his ability to convince those around him that he's the right guy for any circumstance. In order for Bateman to ward off suspicion of his true nature, he must constantly be playing the long game, presenting a charming demeanor as a cover for the rage within. Tom Cruise is obviously not secretly a serial killer, but given his heavily curated public persona, he's the kind of guy Patrick Bateman could totally pick up some pointers from.

Miles Fisher marries the worlds of Tom Cruise and Patrick Bateman

Ironically enough, musician and actor Miles Fisher is proof positive that Tom Cruise and Patrick Bateman are two sides of the same coin. The "Final Destination 5" star has gone viral on multiple occasions for his videos imitating Tom Cruise, in particular, "Tom Cruise: 2020 Presidential Announcement." Fisher first parodied the actor in the 2008 "Superhero Movie," but has continued his impersonations of the movie star well into 2022. The year following "Superhero Movie," Fisher released a music video for his cover of The Talking Heads' "This Must Be The Place," but as a recreation of "American Psycho." All of Bateman's most memorable moments are on display, with Fisher impersonating the performance with uncanny accuracy. Watching the two videos back to back is genuinely uncomfortable, because while the characters of Tom Cruise and Patrick Bateman are obviously very different, there's still an unsettling level of similarity that now has us dying for a Tom Cruise horror movie.