Oscars: 10 Things to Know About Best Picture Nominee 'Vice'

5:48 PM 2/23/2019

by Alexandra Del Rosario

The political satire about George W. Bush's second-in-command nabbed a total of eight Oscar nominations.

'Vice'
'Vice'
Greig Fraser / Annapurna Pictures

Following former Vice President Dick Cheney's ascent to the highest ranks of Washington, Vice is one of the contenders for the 2019 Oscar Awards top category of best picture.

Overall, the film earned eight nominations, including best director for Adam McKay and best actor for Christian Bale.

Behind this multi-Oscar nominee are rounds of fact-checking, hours of prosthetics and...a dance scene?

Read on for 10 more things to know about Vice

  • Adam McKay Almost Held Off on Making the Film Following Donald Trump's Presidential Victory

    Tibrina Hobson/Getty

    Following the 2016 victory of one highly controversial political figure in President Donald Trump, Vice director Adam McKay hesitated on continuing his portrayal of another one. 

    Before his picture hit theaters this past Christmas, Adam McKay spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the making of his second Oscar-nominated work. He recounted his reactions to the results of the 2016 election as he also discussed how the final tally of that night affected the confidence in his project — but how it urged him to continue. 

    "I had this moment, 'Should we go ahead with this?' and then we discussed it and said, 'It's actually more relevant. This is the story of how we got here,'" he told THR. "In the filming and the editing of it, it was eerie how much it kept lining up with the [present] world."

  • Bale or Bust: The Film's Key Figures Didn't Want to Make the Movie Without Christian Bale

    Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

    Producer Jeremy Kliener told THR that McKay considered Bale the only person fit to lead his film as Dick Cheney. 

    "He was always Plan A and there was no Plan B, C or D. He was the guy while Adam was writing it," Kliener said. 

    McKay and Bale had previously worked together on The Big Short where, without the need for excessive weight transformations or prosthetics, the actor played infamous investor Michael Burry. The 2015 film permitted McKay, alongside Charles Randolph, to take home the 2016 Oscar for best adapted screenplay. 

  • The Film's Producers Wanted to Perfect Christian Bale's Makeup Before Moving Forward

    Courtesy of Annapurna Pictures; Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

    The films producers didn't want to make the film until Christian Bale was attached, but even after the star signed onto Vice, the team didn't want to take another step until another things were attached — like prosthetics onto their leading man. 

    "The first big puzzle piece ... was about makeup," Vice producer Kevin Messick told THR. "We couldn't make the movie until we had it, until I think the weekend before we started rolling." 

    According to Messick, makeup tests for the film started as early as March 17, 2017, nearly a year and a half before the movie hit theaters. The multiple makeup tests took place in a storage facility located in the San Fernando Valley during the summer. Apparently during those days, Bale would arrive at the facility somewhere around around 2 a.m. and 3 a.m., hours before the rest of the crew would arrive. 

  • Amy Adams' First Ever Golden Globes Double-Nomination

    George Pimentel/WireImage

    In Sharp Objects, Amy Adams played an alcoholic journalist who must report on the mysterious chain of murders in her small hometown. In Vice, the actress plays former second lady Lynne Cheney.

    Though she played two completely different characters, Adams' performances both received nominations for the 2019 Golden Globes, making for the actress' first-ever Golden Globe double nomination. 

    When she spoke with THR, Adams said that her leading role in McKay's comedy helped her escape the dark world of Camille Preaker from the HBO award-winning series.

    “I credit working on Vice for helping pull me out of [Sharp Objects'] Camille. If I hadn't had something to focus on that felt so different, I might have had a different transition out of that character," she said. 

    Despite her double nomination, Adams went home without a single Golden Globe. For the night's best performance by an actress in a supporting role, Regina King took home the award and Patricia Arquette received the Golden Globe for best performance by an actress in a limited series. 

  • The Film Originally Had A Song-and-Dance Number

    Matt Kennedy/Annapurna Pictures

    During his time in office, Dick Cheney constantly faced accusations regarding the violent 9/11 attacks and criticism for his "enhanced interrogation" tactics, all of which are no dancing — or singing — matter. But when it came to depicting Cheney's first steps in the nation's capitol, Adam McKay found ways to incorporate music and dance into his satire. 

    The film's editor Hank Corwin spoke to THR  about the movie's original song-and-dance number. 

    The "surreal interlude [resembling] a full-blown musical out of the '40s," Corwin said, took place in the congressional cafeteria, as former U.S. Congressman Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell) guided a young Cheney through the ways of Washington. 

    McKay recruited the talents of If Beale Street Could Talk composer Nicholas Britell and Tony Award-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler to bring his musical vision to life. According to Corwin, the scene also included Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard and scores of dancers on set.

    Ultimately, the scene got the ax due to its slowing-down effect on the film, Corwin said. 

    "It was very painful [to cut it]," he said.

  • Director Adam McKay Found Inspiration in a 2008 Italian Film

    'Il Divo' director Paolo Sorrentino
    'Il Divo' director Paolo Sorrentino
    Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images

    Though McKay's Oscar-nominated work concerns itself with key figures in modern-day American politics, he drew inspiration from a similar film made overseas.

    Paolo Sorrentino's 2008 Il Divo, McKay told THR, informed the way he'd approach his biopic. Similarly, Sorrentino's award-winning film also revolves around one of Italy's most controversial figures, Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti. 

    McKay said Sorrentino's biopic presented itself "with all the style and swagger of Pulp Fiction or an Arctic Monkeys song." The film's use of slo-mo, graphics and other techniques led McKay to realize that political stories don't need to follow certain guidelines. 

    "I immediately felt a sense of permission that bordered on inspiration. There are no rules that a political story must be austere, I realized. No rules that it can’t directly address the audience," he said. "I had played with this style in my previous movie, but after seeing Sorrentino’s movie I was more certain than ever on how to proceed."

     

  • Christian Bale's Complicated Yet Convincing Transformation as Dick Cheney

    Matt Kennedy/Annapurna Pictures

    Undergoing major physical transformation by means of strict diets and workouts is nothing new to Christian Bale. Prosthetics, however — that's another story. 

    The Vice star worked with Oscar-winning special effects makeup artist Greg Cannom to transform into the notorious politician. For his first time wearing prosthetics, Bale had to sit through somewhere between three to four hours of application and makeup, Cannom told THR.

    In addition to 40 pounds gained specifically for the role, Bale wore a wrap-around prosthetic that covered his neck, cheeks and chin. The actor also sported prosthetics to make his nose seem more like Cheney's. 

    The transformation, however, did not just stop there. The actor shaved his head and sported a wig that made his head look wider at the top. He also took it upon himself to constantly exercise his neck for a more Cheney-like one, producer Kevin Messick said. 

    Messick said that Bale started using a "crazy neck machine contraption" to bulk up. After his full transformation, the producer recalled mistaking Bale for a fishing instructor who had wandered onto the film set. Messick said he remembers thinking, "Who is that?," upon seeing the transformed actor. 

    Throughout the film, Bale plays Cheney at different stages of his life, ranging from a young up-and-comer to the harshly criticized political figure. 

  • The Film's Crew Axed a Nine-Minute Scene of Dick and Lynne Cheney

    Matt Kennedy / Annapurna Pictures

    While the illustrious song-and-dance scene met its demise before making it to the film's final cut, it wasn't alone. Left behind in the film's extra material is a nine-minute long scene of a young Dick and Lynne Cheney in Wyoming. 

    Hank Corwin told THR that the scene would have further emphasized Lynne's role in helping Dick achieve his level of notoriety. 

    "It's Adam's thesis that Dick Cheney wouldn't have become Dick Cheney without Lynne Cheney [played by Amy Adams, who, like Christian Bale, is Oscar-nominated for the film], and we wanted to show how strong she is," he said. 

    Like the musical scene, however, this intimate take of the former second couple also weighed down the beginning of the film. 

  • Amy Adams Drew Inspiration for her Lynne Cheney Impersonation From Her Own Grandmother

    Annapurna Pictures

    Though the hopeful Oscar nominee based her performance in Vice on former second lady Lynne Cheney, Amy Adams found inspiration for her character in yet another woman closer to her heart.

    The actress sat down with Seth Meyers to discuss her character in the comedy when she stopped in for an episode of NBC's Late Night With Seth Meyers

    "As I started researching her, there was something in her voice and something that sort of started to remind me of my grandmother," Adams said. 

    The actress continued by saying that her grandmother, who is from Utah, was raised on a farm and gave off a pioneering spirit.

    "My grandma, she was tough. She told it how it was. There was no sugarcoating it," Adams said of her grandmother. 

  • The Film Underwent Rigorous Rounds of Fact-Checking

    Matt Kennedy / Annapurna Pictures

    Fact-checking is just but normal when it comes to creating a biopic. Filmmakers can do their general research on their subject, or they, like McKay, can go above and beyond to ensure some semblance for truth. For the Vice director, this meant bringing on board a team of lawyers, professional fact-checkers and journalists

    One of the journalists involved in the accuracy-driven process was Ron Suskind, a Wall Street Journal reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner. Suskind, who also published The One Percent Doctrine that examined the Bush administration's foreign policy, received an early cut of McKay's film and eventually gave it his blessing to move forward. 

    McKay also worked with screenwriter and former journalist Jason George to learn more about Cheney and how he can accurately depict his private side. George conducted off-the-record interviews with 10 people within Cheney's circle and McKay used the information gathered in his film.