Christian Bale’s intensive research for his roles not only results in brilliant performances, it can also save lives.
That’s the takeaway from an interview with Adam McKay, who directed Bale in “The Big Short” and the upcoming Dick Cheney biopic “Vice”, revealing that Bale’s research in the former vice-president’s heart attacks likely saved his life when he suffered a heart attack after filming completed.
“While I was making the movie, I was fairly conscious of the fact I put on some weight and I was smoking a lot. My doctor had told me, you got to stop doing this, and I kept saying, please don’t let me have a heart attack while I’m doing a movie about Dick Cheney,” McKay said in an interview with Deadline.
”Sure enough, we finish the movie and I call my trainer,” McKay added. “I say, we got to get on it, man. I’m too heavy. 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**t, 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.”
After he was given the all-clear by his doctor — who insisted McKay quit smoking — he gave Bale a call. “I called Christian a week later and said, either you or Dick Cheney just saved my life,” McKay said. “After asking again and again for 10 minutes if I was really alright, we just started laughing.”
In fact, actual footage of McKay’s heart attack appears in “Vice”.
“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?’” McKay revealed.
“I put it in the movie,” McKay said. “So my cameo in the movie is my actual heart attack. There is a scene when Cheney is getting all the unfiltered intelligence, and they’re like, ‘Sir, this isn’t verified.’ He’s like, ‘No, give it all to me,’ and his paranoia is going through the roof. There’s a shot, it almost looks like an octopus, people don’t quite know what it is. That’s my heart attack! It actually was perfect because it was supposed to be Cheney becoming paranoid, and it was supposed to be all of Cheney’s feelings of mortality and fear… This is actually what he experienced, like this is crazy, and it also looks really creepy and kind of scary, like the black and white of it. At first my editor was like, ‘This is a little morbid. I’m not sure I want to do that.’ I said, ‘it’s a personal movie and I put everything into it.’”
As McKay explained, his research into Cheney for “Vice” included plenty of info about the former veep’s actual vices.
“We did so much research for the film, and apparently, during the ’70s, when he was in the Ford White House, Cheney was smoking three packs of cigarettes a day and eating a dozen donuts,” McKay said. “That was his day. My smoking peaked when I was at ‘SNL’. I remember having a couple crazy nights where I smoked two packs. Two packs is a lot of cigarettes, man. I mean, it’s hard to smoke two packs. The idea of smoking three packs of cigarettes and a dozen donuts? It’s no surprise he had a heart attack, and then he had like two more. We even cut one out. There’s even one that’s not in the movie because he had so many. 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.”
“Vice” hits theatres on Christmas Day.