LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 10, 2016: Christian Bale at the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. (Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com)
Adam McKay during a heart attack.
Christian Bale pushes the limits of acting in nearly every one of his movies. He gives much more than your ordinary actor. He devotes himself to perfecting the role, learning the tiny details of characters and transforming his body for each part.
For his role in Vice, where he plays former US Vice President, Dick Cheney, Bale put on 34 pounds. However, it was his study of heart attack symptoms, which has proved to be a valuable acting skill.
Cheney famously suffers from cardiovascular disease, having his first of five heart attacks when he was only 37 years old, before going on to receive a heart transplant at age 71. To convey his heart attacks accurately, Bale researched the symptoms, not knowing it would save the life of the director, Adam McKay.
McKay suffered a heart attack of his own in January and said if it were not for a conversation on set with Bale, he might have died.
Adam McKay and Charles Randolph at the 88th Annual Academy Awards - Press Room held at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood, USA on February 28, 2016. (Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com)
In an interview with Deadline
, 50-year-old McKay said: "We finish the movie, and I call my trainer. 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 I went, 'Oh shit,' 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. The doctor said, you got to quit smoking, that's what's doing this to you. You need to lose weight, but the smoking's making it four times worse.
"I called Christian a week later and said, either you or Dick Cheney just saved my life."
McKay was able to take some life lessons from his experience, making an unexpected cameo by using an image of his heart attack in one of the scenes in the movie.
Vice is released on Christmas Day in the US and January 25th in the UK.