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The Hollywood Heartthrob Who Almost Starred In American Psycho

"American Psycho" is a cult classic film based on the book of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis. The film stars Christian Bale, who was relatively unknown in 2000. He was joined by Willem Dafoe, Samantha Mathis, Jared Leto, Reese Witherspoon, and Josh Lucas, who all delivered stellar supporting performances. The story follows Patrick Bateman (Bale), a soulless businessman who uses his power and authority to engage in a bloody rampage across a city that results in countless deaths and extreme scenes of violence. Bateman shows little signs of slowing down and gets far more extreme in his psychosis, at one point being told by an ATM to feed it a stray cat.

Bale undoubtedly carried the movie on his shoulders, with many critics praising his dedication to the role. Jim Lane of the Sacramento News & Review wrote, "Harron's incisive eye and Bale's bravura performance carry the day." At the same time, critic Kristy Strouse added, "Christian Bale is incredible in this movie, and he commits to making Bateman completely deplorable." It's hard to imagine anyone else in the role Bale made famous, but it turns out a Hollywood heartthrob actually replaced the actor during pre-production.

Leonardo DiCaprio was cast in American Psycho

The original director for "American Psycho" was Mary Harron, who hand-picked Christian Bale for the role of Patrick Bateman in the late 1990s. Unbeknownst to her was that the film production company, Lion's Gate (who owned the rights to "American Psycho"), went behind her back and sent the script to Leonardo DiCaprio with a $20 million offer. He reportedly became interested in the project immediately.

Director Harron refused to meet with the star, stating (via The Guardian), "Leonardo wasn't remotely right [for the part]. There's something very boyish about him. He's not credible as one of these tough Wall Street guys. He brought way too much baggage with him — I did not want to deal with someone who had a 13-year-old fan base. They shouldn't see the movie. It could've gotten us in a lot of trouble." DiCaprio was fresh off the mega-smash hit "Titanic," and studios clamored for the rising star.

Harron did not believe DiCaprio was suitable for the role and was unwilling to sacrifice her artistic integrity to bow to the will of Lion's Gate. This eventually led to her and Bale's dismal from the film, with director Oliver Stone tapped as a replacement. Harron added, "[DiCaprio] was probably the single worst single person to do it."

With both Stone and DiCaprio now working on "American Psycho," the two personalities clashed, and the movie's production came to a standstill, which eventually led both to leave the project. According to The Guardian, Lion's Gate finally relented and gave the movie back to Bale and Harron with the stipulation that the budget would not exceed $10 million. "American Psycho" was later released in 2000, and the movie stayed true to the director and actor's original vision, while DiCaprio went on to release "The Beach" that very same year.