Bale first caught the public eye at the age of 13, when he was cast in the starring role of Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun (1987). in 2010, Bale played Dicky Eklund in the biopic The Fighter. in 1984, he made his stage debut in The Nerd, opposite Rowan Atkinson. Bale made his film debut as Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich of Russia in the made-for-television film Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna in 1986, which was followed by leading roles in the miniseries Heart of the Country and the fantasy adventure Mio in the Land of Faraway, in which he appeared with Christopher Lee and Nick Pickard. in 1987, Amy Irving, his co-star in Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, recommended Bale to her then-husband, Steven Spielberg, for a role in Empire of the Sun, adapted from the J.G. Ballard semi-autobiography. From 2002 to 2003, Bale starred in three feature films. He went without proper rest for prolonged periods, and placed himself on a crash diet of generally coffee and apples, which reduced his weight by 63 pounds (4 st 4 lb/27 kg) in a matter of months. By the end of filming Bale weighed only 121 pounds (8 st 9 lb/55 kg), a transformation he described as “very calming mentally” and which drew comparisons to Robert De Niro’s alternate weight-gaining regimen for his role as Jake LaMotta in the 1980 film Raging Bull.