Christian Bale's 'Vice' Research Saved Director Adam McKay From A Heart Attack

Some filmmakers only metaphorically put their heart and soul into their work. When making Vice, Adam McKay did it literally. McKay recently revealed that after shooting the biopic based on the life of former Vice President and all-around monster Dick Cheney, he suffered a heart attack. Besides being potentially tragic, McKay's heart attack was darkly ironic, due to the fact that Cheney's many, many heart attacks are chronicled in the movie. But those very heart attacks may have helped save McKay's life.

Christian Bale is a method actor. He takes his work very seriously, and does serious research. For instance: to play Dick Cheney in Adam McKay's Vice, not only did Bale gain a large amount of weight, he also read up on heart attacks – a very pertinent topic seeing as Cheney has had at least five in his lifetime. You can scoff at Bale's commitment to method acting all you want, but it looks like the actor's attention to detail played a big part in saving the life of Adam McKay.

Speaking with Deadline, McKay revealed that right after shooting Vice, he suffered a heart attack – and Bale's research is what helped him act quickly. As McKay tells it, he put on a lot of weight, and was smoking heavily, while making Vice – so much so that his doctor warned him he needed to course correct.

"Sure enough, we finish the movie and I call my trainer," says McKay. "Our third workout, I get tingly hands and my stomach starts going queasy. I always thought when you get a heart attack, it's pain in the chest or the arm. But then I remembered. When we shot one of the heart attack scenes, Christian Bale asked me, 'how do you want me to do it,' and I go, 'what do you mean? It's a heart attack. Your arm hurts, right?' He says, 'no, no. One of the more common ways is that you get really queasy and your stomach hurts.' I said, 'really? I'd never heard that before. And right in that moment [when McKay doubled over] I went, 'oh s*it, and I ran upstairs and downed a bunch of baby aspirin, and I called my wife who immediately called 911. Got to the hospital really fast, and the doctor said, because you did that, no damage was done, your heart is still really strong. That's because I remembered Christian Bale telling me that."

Let this be a lesson to us all: seek medical advice from Christian Bale immediately.

McKay then took things further. He put his actual heart blockage in the movie:

"My doctor sat me down and said, 'do you want to see your heart attack?' He puts up this thing, this black and white picture that shows the blocked artery. You've probably seen the film before, on movies and TV, and you see the blockage and then you see the wire that cleans it out. Then you see the blood flow. While we were talking about it, I said, 'can I have a copy of that?'...I put it in the movie,. So my cameo in the movie is my actual heart attack. There is a scene when Cheney is getting all the unfiltered intelligence [and] there's a shot, it almost looks like an octopus, people don't quite know what it is. That's my heart attack!"

Cheney's heart attacks are a running theme in Vice, and the former VP had so many of them that McKay had to cut one out. "There's even one that's not in the movie because he had so many," the director says. "We left a heart attack on the cutting room floor. There was so many of them, I think the audience got the idea that he had heart issues."

If you're excited to watch Dick Cheney have multiple heart attacks, Vice opens on Christmas Day.