A lot has been said about the dark side of method acting and the long-term costs of actors putting your body through the sort of extreme transformations that names like Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Daniel Day-Lewis put themselves through in the name of their art. There are grim reports of medical conditions resulting from extreme weight loss or gain or injuries with life-changing impact: all of this from simply playing pretend.
But what about those unreported incidents where method can change lives for the better? What if Daniel Day-Lewis now carves a mean roast because of the time he played Bill The Butcher Cutting? What if Tom Hanks is now really good at volleyball because of Castaway? What if Christian Bale learned the real signs of heart-attacks and legitimately saved director Adam McKay from having one himself thanks to his commitment to performance?
Only one of those things is definitely true (though the others may also be, who knows?) and remarkably it's the last one about Bale.
While making definite Oscar contender Vice for Adam McKay, Bale's preparation for a scene in which Dick Cheney has a heart-attack led to McKay taking precautionary measures when he believed he was having a heart-attack and it saved him from lasting damage or even death.
Talking to Deadline, McKay explained that he was in poor physical shape during Vice,'s production and vowed to get fit afterwards including working with a trainer. During a session, he began to feel ill and it was Bale's preparation for the scene that helped McKay identify the early signs of a heart-attack that ultimately saved him:
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.
So there really is a positive to method acting, then.
It's not necessarily going to impact whether he wins Best Actor when the Oscars come around again (he's probably a hard favourite anyway), but it'd be nice if someone acknowledged it...