Actor John Malkovich will probably get a standing ovation after his performance at Toronto's Elgin Theatre on Saturday night — but the problem is he may not know if the applause is for his performance on the stage, or on the street.

The highly acclaimed actor is in Toronto starring in The Giacomo Variations at the Elgin Theatre.

But Torontonians are just discovering that Malkovich helped to save a man's life on King Street East in the downtown core on Thursday night.

It happened in just a few seconds, said Jim Walpole, who is visiting Toronto after just completing a cross-Canada train trip.

He and his wife, who are from Ohio, had just finished eating at P.J. O'Brien's restaurant and were heading back to the King Edward Hotel when Walpole tripped and fell.

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John Malkovich is in Toronto starring in The Giacomo Variations at the Elgin Theatre. (Associated Press )

As he tumbled to the ground he slashed his throat on some scaffolding.

"The way he was spurting I thought it was the carotid [artery] or the jugular [vein]," said Marilyn Walpole, who is a retired nurse.

Marilyn, 79,  yelled for help and the 59-year-old Malkovich appeared and applied pressure to Walpole's throat to stop the bleeding.

Also helping out was Toronto restaurateur Ben Quinn — owner of P.J. O'Brien's where Jim and Marilyn had just had dinner.

"They were so helpful, so wonderful," Walpole recalled to CBC News.

Malkovich applied pressure to stop the bleeding, using his scarf to help stop the blood flow.

"I asked, 'What's your name?'  He said, 'John.'  And I didn't ask the last name 'cause I didn't figure I'd remember it anyhow,"  he said.

Malkovich "took over just like a doctor," Walpole said.

The hotel doorman called 911 and an ambulance appeared a few minutes later.

Quinn said after it was all over "Malkovich turned and thanked me. I thanked him. We couldn't shake hands, I was covered in blood.  He was just off, didn't want any attention. He's a gentleman and a compassionate person."

Walpole was taken to St. Michael's hospital where he received 10 stitches and was released.

The 77-year-old said he didn't recognize Malkovich and wasn't really sure if he's ever seen him in any films.

But Marilyn says that's going to change. 

"I'm going to watch all of them that I can," she said.