Christian Bale, a method-actor extraordinaire whose remarkable physical transformations for roles have now become second nature in his career, has finally allowed us to see the scope of his latest transformation for Vice. And yes, we’re going to linger on the word “transformation” a bit longer, because the man he chose to portray was … former Vice President Dick Cheney, a man who’s decades older than Bale and has the gait—and the gut—to prove it.
As Vice‘s first trailer shows us, the ethos of the film will revolve around how Cheney, despite his second-in-command status, was still perceived as the most powerful man in the world under the reign of George W. Bush’s presidency (played by a chicken wing–eating Sam Rockwell). He managed to work his way into just about every important White House department you can imagine, much to the meh attitude of Bush and the skepticism of Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell). Whether he’s decent at those jobs, though, is another story entirely. “Well George, I’m a CEO at a large company. I have been secretary of defense and I’ve been White House chief of staff. A White House vice presidency is a mostly symbolic job,” Bale monologues in a pitch-perfect Chenian droll. “However, if we came to a different understanding, I can handle more mundane jobs. Overseeing bureaucracy, military, energy, and foreign policy.”
Bale joked that he enjoyed daily pie-eating feasts to gain a significant amount of weight to play Cheney, but Vice‘s director, Adam McKay, was more methodological in his thoughts when it came to Bale’s commitment as an actor. “What Christian Bale really does is he psychologically breaks someone apart and puts them back together again,” he explained to Deadline earlier this year. “I’ve never seen someone work so hard at it, and it is hard on him, but really amazing to watch. The second I thought of doing the movie, I knew right away, the most exciting person to play him is Christian.”
Vice will be out on December 25, for a very neoconservative Christmas.