Christian Bale stunningly transforms into former United States Vice President Dick Cheney in images from the set of Backseat, the new biopic from The Big Short director Adam McKay. Co-starring Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell and Tyler Perry, Backseat covers the life of Dick Cheney from his early days in the Nixon and Ford administrations, through his time as the head of Halliburton and finally onto his controversial tenure as VP under George W. Bush.
Christian Bale underwent a bit of a transformation in order to play the eccentric hedge fund manager Michael Burry in McKay’s The Big Short, garnering an Oscar nomination in the process, but to play Dick Cheney he is really going all-out in altering his physical appearance. As he did for his role as the corpulent Irving Rosenfeld in American Hustle, Bale increased his calorie intake in order to pack on pounds and adopt the less-than-fit physique of the former VP, proving again that Bale is one of our most insanely dedicated actors.
A new set of images posted to Imgur shows the result of Bale’s efforts to beef up and play Dick Cheney. One image shows Bale wearing a bald cap, glasses and suit complete with American Flag lapel pin for the full Cheney effect. Another shot shows Bale in a hospital gown, indicating that the movie will deal with the heart problems Cheney suffered while serving in the White House (he would go on to have a heart transplant after leaving office). More images show Bale as a younger Cheney with less of a portly physique and a nearly-full head of hair.
With Backseat, McKay continues his cinematic assessment of the first decade of the 21st Century. Having taken on the latter half of the decade and the financial meltdown that would help define the Obama administration in The Big Short, he’s now set his sights on the Bush administration, and particularly Dick Cheney’s role within it. Traditionally, the Vice Presidency was seen as a politically insignificant position, but Cheney changed all that by taking on unprecedented power as the second-in-command. In fact, many saw Cheney as a shadow president (or backseat president, hence the movie’s title) and his boss George W. Bush as a mere powerless figurehead.
Interesting casting choices abound in Backseat. In addition to Bale, there’s Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush, Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, Tyler Perry as Colin Powell and Steve Carell in what is sure to be a crazy performance as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the architect of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
After taking on the financial crisis in strange and weirdly entertaining fashion with The Big Short, McKay’s take on Bush and Cheney is sure to be a curveball, and will almost certainly be politically charged and highly controversial. Bale’s immersive, potentially health-compromising performance as Cheney is only one of the factors making Backseat a movie many people will be looking forward to.