Christian Bale’s Disney origins

Before he was Batman, Christian Bale was a Disney star. It may seem like a bit of a stretch, but the Dark Knight himself sang and danced with the best of them in the Disney movie Newsies. Christian’s other claim to Disney fame is a little more well known. But some are still surprised to learn that he voiced John Smith’s timid friend Thomas in Pocahontas. In honor of Christian Bale’s birthday, let’s take a look at the actor and his contribution to Disney’s vault.

As a bit of a chameleon, Christian Bale’s transformed time and again into all sorts of characters. He’s played an American so often that we forget he was born in Wales. (Though he firmly states he’s not Welsh but English). His birthday, January 30, 1974, sets the actor at 47 years. Christian’s love of acting came built-in as his grandfather was a children’s entertainer. And his mother a former circus performer. His father was a commercial pilot, and as a result, Christian spent his childhood moving around to several countries, including the US, England, and Portugal. When he was just nine years old, Christian booked his very first acting job in a commercial promoting Pac-Man cereal.

In 1996, Christian Bale was cast as Jack “Cowboy” Kelly, a 17-year-old newsboy who works with other newspaper sellers to stand against a prominent New York newspaper’s unfair actions. Jack is a scrappy lad who has one dream: to leave the dingy streets of New York and venture west to Santa Fe. The story of Newsies pits the underdog newsboys against the most powerful man in the city. A strike concerning the cost of newspapers seem like a hopeless cause. But the newspaper boys don’t back down from a bully. And they take their concerns all the way to the President of the United States. Newsies originates from a true story that in 1899 saw newspaper boys as young as 8 or 9 striking to protest the unfair price of Joseph Pulitzer’s newspapers.

Christian Bale had never worked on a musical before his time on Newsies. But he sang and danced with the best of them – even performing a heartfelt ballad titled Santa Fe!, in which he displays some might fancy footwork. Anyone who’s a fan of any High School Musical movie, Hocus Pocus, or Julie and the Phantoms should check out Newsies. They were all directed by the iconic Kenny Ortega. 

We’ve all seen Christian Bale’s second Disney performance in the classic Disney movie Pocahontas. This time Christian plays the mild-mannered Thomas. He sets sail with the adventurous John Smith to discover gold in the New World. Thomas is an earnest, loving family man, but he doesn’t have much luck when it comes to sailing or fighting. John takes him under his wing and even teaches him how to shoot properly. Hint: you have to keep both eyes open.

Christian’s role as Thomas saw his character being instilled with prejudices of people he had never met. He assumed, like all his compatriots, that the Native American tribes were no more than savages. He lets that toxic hatred fester inside of him. Then he joins his companions in marching to destroy the tribe. However, Thomas is one of the first men who take a stand against Governor Ratcliffe’s bigotry when he sees the truth about the Native people.  He then sheds his timid nature and demands that John Smith be set free. Though perhaps an overlooked character in the movie, Thomas is a powerful example that people can be taught to turn away from hate.

Though he’s moved on to even greater heights as an actor, we still appreciate Christian Bale from his more humble origins as a Disney actor, and we wish him a happy birthday!