The Gulf Today - Time Out - - CONTENTS -

Chris­tian Bale had a choice to make. He’d been hem­ming and haw­ing about Adam McKay’s very un­con­ven­tional propo­si­tion that he play Dick Cheney in a biopic about the for­mer vice pres­i­dent of the United States, and his dead­line to de­cide was com­ing up.

“I thought it was go­ing to be im­pos­si­ble. I also didn’t want to do that much work,” Bale said re­cently in Bev­erly Hills. “I just thought, ‘this is go­ing to be a lot of work!’ Like, ‘Do you re­al­ize how di­fi­cult this is go­ing to be? I don’t re­ally want to do that.’”

But he started re­search­ing Cheney and do­ing some early makeup tests and re­al­ized he’d be­come ob­sessed. Sud­denly see­ing his name next to Cheney’s didn’t seem “so com­pletely crazy.” He had to say yes.

Be­sides, he laughed, “There’s al­ways at­trac­tion, I feel like, in end­ing a ca­reer in one go.” So Bale and, even­tu­ally, his fre­quent costar Amy Adams (“The Fighter,” “Amer­i­can Hus­tle”), de­cided to do the im­pos­si­ble and be­come the enig­matic Dick and Lynne Cheney for McKay’s “Vice.”

The charged polemic, which ar­rives in the­atres Christ­mas day, fol­lows the Cheneys from their in­aus­pi­cious ori­gins to Wash­ing­ton DC, where Dick Cheney would be­came one of the most pow­er­ful and in­flu­en­tial fig­ures in the coun­try.

To Bale, Cheney was some­one who thrived on serv­ing some­one, whether it be Don­ald Rums­feld or Ge­orge W. Bush, but that his irst loy­alty was to his wife. The ilm posits a Shake­spearean power dy­namic where Lynne is pulling strings be­hind the scenes.

“Lynne was the am­bi­tion and the driv­ing force,” Bale said. “Times be­ing as they were Lynne was not able to achieve all these goals that she wished she could achieve her­self. She needed a man to do that and so Dick be­came that ves­sel through which she achieved her own am­bi­tions.”

Adams too be­came fas­ci­nated by her char­ac­ter’s ini­tia­tive and in­tel­li­gence, and re­alised she needed to stop think­ing of her as merely “Dick Cheney’s wife.”

“My daugh­ter asked me what I was go­ing to play, and I said, ‘I’m play­ing Dick Cheney’s wife. And she was like, ‘Why are you al­ways play­ing a wife and a girl­friend?’ And I re­al­ized even I had as­signed her a po­si­tion that was in re­la­tion­ship to Dick Cheney and it changed the way that I view her,” Adams said. “I was like you know what, ‘No I’m play­ing Lynne Cheney. She’s mar­ried to Dick Cheney. She is his wife, but she has her own iden­tity.’”

Nei­ther met their real-life sub­ject, who they would be por­tray­ing over the course of four decades. Bale wanted to but was “warned away from try­ing to do that.” “It’s one of those deals where they say if you bump into some­body, well good, chat all you want, but if you reach out to some­body, it’s a dif­fer­ent le­gal thing that hap­pens with that,” he said.

But they had a lot of re­sources to help, in­clud­ing irst-hand ac­counts from peo­ple who knew them, and the in­ter­net. Bale’s phone is still full of videos and pho­tos of Cheney, right along­side those of his wife and kids.

“I haven’t been able to get rid of it yet,” said Bale, laugh­ing that he’s be­come fond of the mem­o­ries. Of course, learn­ing about Dick and Lynne Cheney is one thing, but Bale and Adams would also have to look like them as well for “Vice” to work.

For Bale, that meant yet an­other sig­ni­icant phys­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion that in­volved wear­ing fake teeth, gain­ing some 40 pounds, adding “a cou­ple of inches” to his neck and spend­ing about four hours in the make-up chair ev­ery day.

“It helps me get into char­ac­ter, but it doesn’t help me live a long life. Re­ally. I’ve re­ally got to stop do­ing it at some point,” Bale said.

He used to laugh at peo­ple who would just opt for an easy fat suit, in­stead of do­ing the work, un­til he re­al­ized that Gary Old­man had done just that for his Os­car-win­ning Win­ston Churchill trans­for­ma­tion for “Dark­est Hour.” But at that point he had al­ready gained 25 pounds and de­cided he might as well just keep go­ing. Adams, too gained some weight.

“I found it help­ful for just the grav­i­tas that Lynne had,” Adams said. “She felt very earthy to me.”

One thing Adams strug­gled with was the long hours in the make-up chair.

“One day I was so tired, I felt like I was on a boat and I was sit­ting there and we were work­ing late into the night and I said, ‘I don’t know how you do it, Chris­tian, I re­ally have so much ad­mi­ra­tion for you,’ and he was just like, ‘I don’t think about it,’” she said.

“It’s ex­actly what I needed to hear in that mo­ment.”

Although the film it­self may be po­lit­i­cal, both Bale and Adams would rather stay out of com­ment­ing on or mak­ing judg­ments about their char­ac­ters and their pol­i­tics.

“I didn’t ap­proach this with my own opin­ions. I don’t typ­i­cally head into any char­ac­ter I ap­proach by judg­ing them,” Adams said. “That kind of shuts me down in cre­at­ing the char­ac­ter.”

Bale added: “If you’re watch­ing us on the screen and you know Amy’s po­lit­i­cal stance on what Lynne was say­ing and my opin­ion and how much I dis­agree or agree re­ally kind of ru­ins the whole point.”

And per­haps the story is more com­pli­cated than party lines. Bale said, when you re­move the “enor­mously hor­rific things,” like the Iraq War and en­hanced in­ter­ro­ga­tion, you are, “Kind of left with a love story.”

“You get this in­cred­i­bly de­voted man who rec­og­nizes that he would not have been the per­son he be­came were it not for his wife. You get a man who con­trary to the times and what was pop­u­lar with his party, with­out any hes­i­ta­tion, em­braced his daugh­ter Mary when she came out. He didn’t give a damn what any­body else thought. But I think also that is largely a part of what makes this story, and any story in­ter­est­ing,” Bale said. “There is this de­sire so of­ten to make ev­ery­one into su­per­heroes, to be all vil­lain or all hero and no­body is ... So it’s try­ing to ind that bal­ance but hope­fully not putting any­thing of my­self into it.” “Does that make sense?” Bale added, “Or does it sound RE­ALLY pre­ten­tious?”

Cast mem­bers Sam Rock­well (left), Amy Adams, di­rec­tor Adam McKay, Chris­tian Bale and Steve Carell pose at the pre­miere.

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