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Adam McKay Had a Heart Attack and His ‘Vice’ Star Christian Bale Saved His Life

McKay even put a picture of his heart attack into the finished "Vice" theatrical cut.

Christian Bale, "Vice"

Christian Bale in “Vice”

Greig Fraser/Annapurna Pictures

Adam McKay owes his life to Christian Bale. The “Vice” writer-director revealed to Deadline he suffered a heart attack shortly after principal photography finished on his Dick Cheney biographical drama.

“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 said. “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 during a workout with his trainer he got tingly hands and his stomach started going queasy. Bale stars as Cheney in McKay’s movie and had to perform several heart attack scenes as part of the script. Bale researched heart attack symptoms to properly act these moments, and that’s the main reason McKay realized he was having a heart attack in the first place.

“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?’” McKay said.
“He says, ‘No, no. One of the more common ways is that you get really queasy and your stomach hurts.’

When McKay’s stomach started feeling queasy that day with his trainer, he remembered Bale’s research. “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,” McKay said. “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.”

Adam McKay and Christian Bale

Adam McKay and Christian Bale

Eric Charbonneau/Shutterstock

McKay called Bale several days after to tell him about what happened. “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.”

Bale and McKay previously worked together on “The Big Short,” which won McKay an Oscar for writing and earned Bale a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. McKay told Deadline he found a way to put his heart attack in their new movie. The image of McKay’s blocked heart is seen on screen during one sequence in which Cheney becomes stressed over the invasion of Iraq. “Vice” has earned strong early buzz from awards voters who have even to early screenings of the comedy-drama.

Annapurna Pictures will release “Vice” in theaters on Christmas.

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