Christian Bale said that due to the improvisational directing style of Adam McKay, he had to do more research for this film than any other film he's done. In order to ad-lib in character, Bale not only needed to have Dick Cheney's mannerisms and vernacular down, but he also had to know which policies, their instances, and abbreviations the Vice President would be aware of at any given moment in his life.
Christian Bale gained 45 pounds, shaved his head, bleached his eyebrows and exercised to thicken his neck for his role as Cheney. Bale said he achieved his hefty physique for the film by eating a lot of pies.
As Cheney has had well-documented heart problems for most of his adult life, Christian Bale had to study heart attack prevention as part of his method--his tips ended up saving Adam McKay's life, as he suffered a heart attack during post-production.
Director Adam McKay suffered a mild heart attack during post-production. He decided to include black-and-white footage of the procedure to insert the stent in his heart, considering this to be his cameo.
It was revealed that Amy Adams stayed in character during filming, especially keeping her character's distinct voice. She would even have political debates with the director while maintaining the voice. Adams revealed that it was the first time she stayed in character throughout filming.
Sam Rockwell's biggest physical concern was George W. Bush's "lip forward" method of speaking. He requested prosthetic in the mouth region, in addition to the entirely prosthetic nose he wore for the film.
Christian Bale was Adam McKay's only choice to play Dick Cheney. Having worked together on The Big Short (2015), McKay was impressed by Bale's ability to psychologically break a character apart and put them together again. McKay said, "The second I thought of doing the movie, I knew right away, the most exciting person to play him is Christian".
Daughter, son-in-law, and White House Advisors to President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, attended a showing of Vice, but left half way through the film. Their motives for leaving the film early are unknown.
The more Adam McKay plunged into Dick Cheney's political career, the more he realized that he had a lasting and considerable influence on contemporary American politics. His mission, in his eyes, was to write a scenario that goes beyond political beliefs and addresses universal themes.
While Christian Bale and makeup artist Greg Cannom were trying to develop the look of Dick Cheney, the actor focused on appropriating the character. According to executive producer Jeff Waxman, Bale studied Cheney by viewing every single one of his interventions and interviews.
For his research on the character of Dick Cheney, director Adam McKay has read Robert Caro's formidable biography of Robert Moses, "The Power Broker," a clever book on a man's rise to power and his struggle to stay there .
When Dick is discussing the possibility of running as Veep with his wife in their bathroom he rinses his mouth with Original Listerine (the yellow one). This is a clear nod to another of Bale's roles, namely The Machinist which features the same brand and variety on his sink in the opening scenes of the film when he is washing his hands obsessively. Both Vice and The Machinist feature major weight changes (gain for Vice and loss for The Machinist).
Like many Americans, Adam McKay knew little of the elusive - and seemingly impenetrable - Dick Cheney who was almost co-chairing George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009. And that, in turn, upset the course of the American history, if not forever, at least for decades to come.
Dick Cheney was an avid fly fisherman, a discipline that required great patience. A quality that has largely contributed to his methodical rise, both in politics and in the business community. However, none of this would have been useful without the encouragement and ambition of his wife, Lynne Vincent, his girlfriend since high school. After Cheney was fired from Yale and fined twice for drunken driving, his wife helped him recover.
At one point the narrator mentions that Donald Rumsfeld was part of a wrestling team during his youth. Steve Carell, who plays Rumsfeld, previously played John DuPont in Foxcatcher (2014), another real-life character who was a sponsor and coach of a wrestling team.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
According to Adam McKay, it was Christian Bale's idea for his character to break the fourth wall at the end of the film. McKay didn't initially want to have Cheney addressing the camera but once Bale pointed out that if there ever was a time to do so it would be in that scene, McKay agreed to film it not knowing whether he would include it in the final cut or not. Bale and McKay wrote the monologue together just a day before filming. In the end McKay was so impressed by Bale's performance in the scene and how it captured Cheney's essence that he decided to include it in the film and was thankful for Bale to have suggested it.
When Joseph C. Wilson's op-ed criticizing the Bush administration is released in the New York Times, Cheney tells Scooter Libby to "out" Wilson's wife Valerie Plame (an undercover CIA agent) in retaliation. Naomi Watts, who plays a news anchor in "Vice", portrayed Valerie Plame in Fair Game (2010).