Adam McKay says ‘Vice’ star Christian Bale saved him from a heart attack

Ben Arnold
Adam McKay (Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)
Adam McKay (Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)

Is there anything Christian Bale can’t do?

His director on Vice, Adam McKay, has just credited the actor with saving him from having a deadly heart attack.

McKay has revealed that he suffered a cardiac episode just after completing principle photography on the movie, which finds Bale playing former vice president Dick Cheney.

In the movie, Bale had to perform several scenes in which Cheney suffers a heart attack, and because he’s a professional, he did his homework properly.

And it was that research which prevented McKay from having a far more serious incident.

“While I was making the movie, I was fairly conscious of the fact I put on some weight and I was smoking a lot,” McKay told Deadline.

“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.

Christian Bale as Dick Cheney (Credit: Annapurna Pictures)
Christian Bale as Dick Cheney (Credit: Annapurna Pictures)

“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’.”

And it was after the principle photography that McKay felt these very symptoms, and not the pain in the arms at all, during a workout session with his trainer.

“Our third workout, I get tingly hands and my stomach starts going queasy. And right in that moment 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,” McKay went on.

“I 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. After asking again and again for 10 minutes if I was really alright, we just started laughing.”

Former vice president of the United States Dick Cheney (Credit: MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Former vice president of the United States Dick Cheney (Credit: MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images)

Cheney, who smoked three packets of cigarettes a day for 20 years, has suffered five heart attacks, and underwent a heart transplant in 2012.

McKay added that he even put his heart attack in the movie.

“So my cameo in the movie is my actual heart attack,” he added. “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.”

Vice, which also stars Amy Adams, Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell, and explores Cheney’s pivotal role in George W. Bush’s administration, is getting serious buzz ahead of its release.

It lands in the UK on January 25, 2019.

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