Dick Cheney, Lynne Cheney, Cheney Amy Adams discussed on Fresh Air


This is WNYC ninety three point nine FM and AM eight twenty NPR news and the New York conversation. This is fresh air. I'm Terry gross. Let's get back to my interview with Adam McKay, he wrote and directed the new film vice which is about Dick Cheney and how he became one of the most powerful vice presidents in American history, it stars Christian bale is Cheney Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney and Sam Rockwell as George W Bush there each nominated for Golden Globes as as McKay for both his writing and directing McKay. Awesome made the comedies anchorman. Talladega nights and the big short. He's a former Saturday Night Live head writer, Christian bale is really fantastic in the movie as Cheney, particularly as the Bush era Cheney and some of it is the makeup and FedEx, but he gets the voice so well, and the breathing like you can always hear Cheney when he's breathing when he's inhaling before the next phrase, he's about to speak and he gets the pace. Thing and the breathing perfectly. Right. And also, you know Cheney. When he speaks. It comes out a little more on one side of his mouth and the other and Christian bale. Got that perfectly. Why did you think of him? I mean, physically he's the opposite type of Cheney. He's you know, he's he's got a very narrow face, or at least that's how I think of it as opposed to Cheney's much, you know, kind of rounder or more more square face Cheney's, heavier than bale bale had to put on a lot of weight for the role. Christian Bale's, Australian which I never remember when he's playing an American Welsh Welsh. Okay. Yes. Well, but I never remembered that he he's not like. A native American accent speaker? So why in the world did you think of him? I think you just said it I didn't really care about him. Looking exactly like him. I was more interested in the kind of psychological build of the character. And there are just very few actors like Christian bale and Amy Adams that can do that kind of work were they really build a character psychologically, and so it's not just mimicking gestures or mimicking motions. They know why that motion is happening. They know why that gesture is happening, and there's a psychological history to it. And there's an evolution to it. And man, I I've never seen anything like it with this movie as far as getting to watch Christian put this character together as everyone on set every day. He would walk on. There was like this quiet reverence for what he was doing and the depth to which bell went, wow. I'll never forget the first day where his weight gain mixed with the make a mixed with all the psychological work mixed with all the character work when it all came together. I just literally the Harris stood up on my arms. I've never experienced anything like it. So in your film. There was supposed to be a musical number. Sure would have been really funny when I read that that was supposed to be in. There got really kind of angry be edited it out. And I I really want to see it. Okay. So it'll be a DVD extra. But how long am I going to have to wait for that? But so tell us something about the production number. What would you can sing it? You can seeing some of the lyrics was so good. It was so good. We have Britney Howard from the Alabama shakes. We have the choreographer of Hamilton. Christian bale corral. It was basically Don Rumsfeld teaching Cheney neither a borrower norlander be except, you know, always a bar always borrow borough. Be and. Yeah. It was amazing. It just tone wise, and story wise did not work in that part of the film, and we tried and tried and tried it almost worked, and it definitely I've had a little Pang recently. A man maybe I should have just left that in there. But the good news is it will be out with the when the release of the movie happens, and streaming DVD and all that kind of stuff, and it really is tremendous. You should have called me because here's what you could have done. Okay. So you could have in the closing credits had them roll over that number. So it'd be kind of like an extra within the movie. Yeah. We actually did discuss that call me. But why did you why did you not do that? Because it felt weird. It felt like you're going way backwards in the movie it felt like you're like, oh now we're back to him as a young, man. Like it didn't quite work. My daughter and her friends were so pissed they're like how could you cut that? I may have made a mistake I will openly admit that. I may have made a mistake on that one. But it boy it did not quite feel right? We tried and tried. That was probably our biggest cut in the movie. I mean, the nice thing is most of the other stuff stayed in. But that was a tough one. So making vice was a very eventful period for you. You had a heart attack before the movie was finished. Thank goodness you survived and seemed to be in good shape. Now. What point of the movie were you in when you realize you're having a heart attack? We had just finished filming. I think we'd raft for about a week. And it's that period where the editor is putting together the rough assembly of the movie Hank Corwin was working on its you kind of have this little week and a half two week break. And I have a company with will Ferrell Keri Sanchez, productions were always working on TV and movies. So I was doing a little bit of work producing. And I just realized I was not in the best shape. I've put on weight during the movie, I was foolish enough to continue smoking. Not a ton. But I was about a half a pack a day below half a pack a day, and it just I didn't feel good. My doctor was warning me. And I was working out my trainer and in the middle of my hands started tingling and my stomach felt queasy. Well, those aren't normally symptoms you think of with a heart attack, usually think of pain in the chest and the arm and so I told my trainer on fine. I'm fine. I'm just tired. This is just weird and he left and as soon as he left I remembered the heart attack seem we shot with bail when he was running for congress in Wyoming in the late seventies and bail, it asked me said, how do you want to do the heart attack? Do you want it to be a pain in the arm? The chassis goes. I could also do the queasy stomach. That's really common. And I remember asking like, what do you mean? I've never heard that before queasy stomach, and he goes, oh, yeah. It's very common. And so that moment just flash back to me while I was sitting on the couch, and I went holy. The Lord and I ran upstairs and ran upstairs, you're having heart attacks. So you run upstairs. Yeah. I mean. Maybe run is not the right bold. Stagger. Yeah. That's a better word. Careened? I got upstairs, and I just down for baby aspirin and called nine one one. And God bless nine one one within three minutes they were there, and they had me at the hospital another three minutes after that. And the doctor was like why did you take those baby aspirin like I think he knew usually the queasy stomach thing. People don't react to that one. And I said, oh, my lead actor in our movie told me out, heart attack works and the doctor said because you acted so quickly. You've no damage to your heart. Your nails. And then he said not only that you have an extra strong heart. So he said the only dumping you're doing a smoking. So he said if you stop smoking, there's no reason you shouldn't live to be one hundred years old. So I have stopped smoking. That is the good news. And and my heart is as good as new, but man, what a scary experience. So I called Christian bale week later. And I said either you or Dick Cheney just saved my life. Did the doctor think the baby aspirin helped? Oh, yeah. For sure. What they give you. And when I got in the ambulance, they gave me more. I mean, the aspirin thins the blood which allows it to get around the blockage. It's it's definitely one of the moves you want. It's not going to save your life. You still have to go to the hospital, but it mitigates damage. There's no doubt about it. Did you at any point your life was in danger? It's funny. You're going through an experience like that. It's such a roller coaster. You don't even really think in terms like that. It's just moment by moment feeling by feeling and there were a couple moments that got very intense where I thought oh, and I remember the one doctor saying when I was in the hospital because I started to feel better. And then all of a sudden, I did not feel better. And I remember hearing a doctor going he's having a hard event right now. And I thought oh man, I could really die in this moment. And the craziest thing was they took me they call it a cath lab, which I had never heard of before the catheter lab, and they take you in there. And that's where your heart. Doctor comes in your cardiologists. And this was a guy named Dr Henry is one of the best in the world. Thank god. And they get to work on you. And they're you know, they're going to clear out that blockage. And they did and they were amazing, and then towards the end I was on drugs, obviously. And for some reason, I thought it was very important that everyone at the table. No that I just done a movie about Dick Cheney. How ironic this is that I'm on a table having a heart attack. And of course, no one cares. But I saw sort of mumbled it. I was like this is weird. Just in a movie about Dick Cheney, and everyone ignored me as they should have except one voice to my right. Just after a beaches said Cheney great American. Of your movie. I went. You know, it's in my mind. I was like I don't want to argue with this guy think these people just saved my life. So I just went I, sir. It's complicated. For anybody who doesn't know Cheney had I think like eight heart attacks and heart transplant. So the whole heart connection is is very very relevant. Yeah. It's pretty crazy. I mean at one point he had it basically a little EKG or little jump starter in his heart. So when he would have a heart attack. It would give his heart kick to keep it alive and had like a little computer in it. And I guess a couple years after he had it put in they were worried that terrorists could crack the computer code on his heart computer that he had in there. So they actually took that out at one point. But yeah, I think he had five heart attacks. But. Well, no, no, no. If you transplant if you count the device they put in. I mean, you might be right. It might be that high. It's kind of hard to calculate but during the nineteen seventies when he was working in the Ford administration the youngest chief of staff in history, he was smoking three packs of cigarettes a day inning a dozen donuts every day. So. Clearly, not treating his heart that well. Well, let's take a break here. And then we'll talk some more. If you're just joining us. My guest is Adam McKay who wrote and directed the new film vice about Dick Cheney, and he also wrote and directed anchorman and Talladega nights and the movie the big short, which is about what led to the financial meltdown of two thousand eight will be right back. This is fresh air. Support for WNYC comes from the New York review of books a journal of ideas. The current issue includes David eight bell on liberalism Francisco Cantu on the Mexican border and Kathleen shine on Gary staying guard on newsstands and at NY books dot com. You're listening to fresh air on ninety three point nine FM and WNYC dot org. 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