How Christian Bale Became Dick Cheney in Vice

Even Christian Bale wasn’t sure if casting him as the former vice president was going to work.

Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in Vice
Annapurna Pictures

One of the most stunning performances you’ll see on screen this season is Christian Bale as former Vice President Dick Cheney in director Adam McKay’s Vice. Whatever you may think of Cheney (he remains as unpopular as he was powerful), Bale finds the voice, the posture, the very embodiment of the man who many feel was the true commander-in-chief during the years of the Bush Administration.

But even Bale himself tells us in the interview below that he wasn’t entirely sure he could pull the role off. “It seemed unlikely for me to play Dick Cheney, so I knew we had a lot of work cut out for us,” he admits. “But it was a hell of a script, so I wanted the challenge.”

Further Reading: Christian Bale on the Time He Met Donald Trump

“With something like that, you don’t know when you start if it’s going to work,” he adds. “We knew we didn’t want an impersonation — Adam originated many of those famous impersonations when he was working at Saturday Night Live. We knew we didn’t want that, because they’re brilliant, but they’re good for 10 minutes. For two hours, you need the essence of the man.”

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Bale gained some 40 or more pounds for the role, continuing his tradition of either losing weight (The Machinist) or putting it on (American Hustle) as the part demands. But playing such a polarizing figure in modern American history required more than that — it necessitated the actor finding a way to unlock this famously enigmatic person for himself.

Vice also stars Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, Sam Rockwell as President George W. Bush, Steve Carell as Donald Rumseld and Tyler Perry as Colin Powell. The film opens on Christmas Day.

Don Kaye is a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist and associate editor of Den of Geek. Other current and past outlets include Syfy, United Stations Radio Networks, Fandango, MSN, RollingStone.com and many more. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @donkaye