Vice, the Dick Cheney biopic starring Christian Bale as Cheney, has been (predictably) divisive in the States. But, off the back of a bunch of exciting Oscar nominations, it’s headed for UK cinemas tomorrow, when we’ll be able to make up our own minds.
But, forget the current controversy. We sat down with Adam McKay last week and discovered that he’s already thinking about his next project. McKay’s been rumoured for Guardians 3 for a while, but what he’d really like to do with Marvel is a Silver Surfer movie.
“I think you could make one of the most visually amazing movies ever made if you did Silver Surfer,” McKay tells Yahoo Movies UK. “The origin story of Norrin Radd, the planet, Galactus, there’s a love story at the root of it…”
Would he try to convince his Vice lead, Christian Bale to star? “How insane would that be? That’s a great idea.”
“There’s something in the Silver Surfer idea that could be really cool, there might be a way to do a movie like that with a global warming bottom to it, where you could hit that theme. So I’m also thinking about that as well, it doesn’t have to be directly about global warming, it could be in something that has it as a part of it.
“Silver Surfer wouldn’t be hard to do that with, because he leaves his planet, and there’s a lot of stuff about planets in there – and with your genius Christian Bale idea, maybe that’ll happen.”
But first, Vice – we went on a deep dive with McKay about the backlash against the movie, Bale’s Satanic inspiration, and how the director would approach Trump.
Yahoo Movies UK: I loved the movie, there were moments that reminded me of Tarkovsky…
Adam McKay: Thank you so much, I love Tarkovsky – of course. I don’t know if you’ve heard about the reception we’ve had in the States, but we make a lot of movies, and it’s always nice when someone loves it, and on this one, it’s particularly enjoyable to hear someone say that they absolutely love the movie, because we’ve had people in the States say they absolutely hated the movie. And then we’ve had people say they absolutely love the movie as well.
I find that really interesting, because the backlash seems to have come from the right and the left, which makes me think you’ve made a balanced film!
I knew it was going to come from the right, but I was really surprised by the amount of flak we got from the left. It surprised me.
I think there’s a couple of things at work. I think some people wanted it to be a magazine piece, a traditional, clean story. And the fact we didn’t do that, they felt that we mucked it up. They felt we were showing off, they felt we didn’t need to do that and, on a basic level, some people just don’t like that style, so that played into it.
Then you had the academics, saying ‘How did you not put XY or Z in there?’ It’s a film. It’s a portrait of Dick Cheney, the books are for having XY and Z. We actually got a lot in here. We took some hard shots from some pretty serious scholars. James Mann went after us pretty hard.
Then I think there’s a lot of people who are pretty territorial about history. ‘How dare you, Hollywood boy? We’re the ones who are in charge of this.’ Which I get.
And then some people thought we were too nice to him.
Well – I do think there’s stuff for the left to enjoy, and there’s stuff for the right to enjoy, actually. There were moments where I felt for Dick Cheney, which I never would have expected…
I didn’t either [laughs].
So that might be part of it?
Some people were mad about that, yeah. ‘We made him too human.’ I said ‘The whole point was to make him human.’ The whole point was ‘How does someone become like this?’
My interpretation of his history, and this is the thing that rankled some of the journalists and political theorists, was the movie I modelled it after was Sid & Nancy by Alex Cox.
They’re power-addicts, it is an addiction. For those that group of scholars and journalists, that’s too simplistic. But I hate to break it to you, but it’s real – people get addicted to power, and that’s what I found with the Cheneys, I didn’t find an ideology, I just found a constant desire to move and expand.
And that’s a really interesting comparison in terms of how it affects his health…
Yeah! Sid was a goofball who met Nancy Spungen, and – I don’t why – but he falls in love with her. We’re all watching the movie going ‘Well, why does he fall in love with her?’ But he does! He falls head over heels in love with her, and she’s a junkie. So what are you going to do when you fall in love with a junkie? You’re going to have some junk!
So they both became junkies together and I really think that’s Dick Cheney, I think Dick Cheney met Lynne Vincent, who was a rocket ship, brilliant, ambitious, and if you’re going to be with her, you’d better get on board, and he did – he ended up becoming the master of all of them.
You had talks at Marvel about Guardians 3, where are you with that?
There were never actually talks at Marvel, I don’t know where that came from. There might have been a call to my agent. The thing I did say I’d like to do is Silver Surfer, that is true. I think you could make one of the most visually amazing movies ever made if you did Silver Surfer, the origin story of Norrin Radd, on the planet, Galactus, there’s a love story at the root of it…
So I did say that, and I do know Kevin Feige pretty well, and someone else asked him about it, and he’s a fan of mine, so he said ‘Oh, that could be cool’ so that generated.
That is true, and I was showing interest in Silver Surfer, but Guardians 3 may have been a call to an agent or something. But I love Kevin and I love Marvel, we’re always kicking around stuff and I did a big rewrite on Ant-Man, so I’d love to work with them again.
Would you try to convince Christian Bale to be Norrin Radd? I mean, he trusts you…
How insane would that be? That’s a great idea.
He would be perfect!
[Thinks] That’s a great idea. You just got me extra excited. Well, if it happens, you’re getting tickets to the premiere and an associate producer credit [laughs].
The dream! And talking about Christian Bale, he’s an amazing and interesting guy, I’ve interviewed him and he’s just so fascinating…
There’s no-one like him.
No-one like him, exactly. He thanked Satan at the Golden Globes, you can see the twinkle in his eye when he does it, but do you think that could hurt his Oscar chances, or do you think Hollywood’s fine with Satanists?
[laughs] Christian’s Christian, he can get away with that. He was clearly joking, as you said, he had a twinkle in his eye. He’s just an amazing character. He enjoys the award show stuff, but he’s not that into it. I don’t think it’ll hurt him for the Oscars. Who knows what’s going to happen at the Oscars, there’s some other really great actors, but whatever’s going to happen is going to happen.
It’s a fascinating year, I think Vice will be up for Best Editing, the editing in this film is amazing…
I couldn’t agree with you more, and I think the score is incredible. I won’t shut up about the editing or the score, I totally agree with you. The editing is next-level and the score is next-level. Forget me and the actors, and the movie, I don’t see how anyone beats editing.
It goes to show you that the type of style we did is divisive, some people like it, some people don’t, but it floors me whenever I watch it. That guy Hank Corwin has a hand like no other editor.
That shot of the fish that goes into the explosion…
Oh! Oh! Love that!
Vice has a mid-credit scene that seems to throw shade at The Fast & The Furious…
Can I officially answer this right now?
[Shouts] I’m not throwing shade at The Fast & The Furious! I know Dwayne Johnson, and Neal Moritz! I made Talladega Nights and Step Brothers! The point of it was supposed to be that politics are so fricking crazy, we just go watch movies and see entertainment, that’s all it was supposed to be.
Fast & The Furious are the most fun movies, I would never throw shade at them. But people were like ‘How dare you!’ And I was like ‘No! That’s not what it is!’ It was never my intention. But what happens in America is, and I do it too, shit is so crazy that when I come home, rather than putting on the news, I’ll put Forensic Files and zone out, and I know you guys have it here too. That’s what I was trying to show ‘F*** it, let’s just go and see Fast & Furious.’
I know you’ve take you’d take Trump over Bush, but are you tempted to do a Trump movie? Serving McDonalds at the White House feels like it’s straight out of a comedy film, like Coming To America but with a rich guy instead of an African Prince. It’s hard to satirise, I guess…
For the record, someone asked me who I’d take between the two, and I should have said neither. I do think that to this point, [George W] Bush and Cheney did far more damage, but Trump isn’t done yet, obviously.
If I was going to do a Trump movie, for real, I would do it animated. Not kid-animation, I mean detailed, like Charles Burns, maybe. I would do an animated movie, I actually think that would be really cool. I might do an animated movie about Fred Trump, his dad. That would be kind of incredible, wouldn’t it?
Are you worried that Vice could give Trump ideas, because it boils down quite a lot of complex stuff into understandable terms. The line about how much power a war president has terrified me…
They’ve already been playing that game. When we were editing, they got [Brett] Kavanaugh through who’s a big unitary executive guy, this new AG is unitary executive. [Mitch] McConnell and those guys know about it, they’ve got four unitary executives on the Supreme Court, if they get a fifth we’ve got a dictator as a President, it’s officially there. That’s the biggest game being played. If Ruth Bader Ginsburg goes down, we’ve may have a dictator.
Never in my life have I been worried that anything I would do, or anything anyone else would do, would give Donald Trump ideas, because I don’t think that process is possible. And I mean that, I don’t think he’s a guy who’s capable of hearing stuff and having ideas. But McConnell is wiley, he’s the guy – he’s as close as we have to a Chaney right now is McConnell. Thank God there’s no Chaney behind Trump. For a while I thought it might be [Steve] Bannon, but no.
What subject or person would you like to tackle next?
Global warming, that’s the big one. I’m trying to find a way to crack it. I just don’t want to do a typical dystopian thing. There’s got to be a way to crack that subject. People aren’t connecting with it, and it’s the biggest story in human history. It scares the crap out of me, it’s coming way faster than we thought… I kind of think it’s the only thing.
I have two ideas that I’m kicking around, I might do them both, that’s how important I think it is. Man, I’ve got to crack it in a way that you or I would buy a ticket. That’s how I do these movies, ‘Would I buy a ticket to go and see it?’ And I’ve got to come up with that idea that’s ‘I would go and see that.’ It’s a tough one, man. It scares the shit out of me.
So that’s the next one. Although, I gotta say, there’s something in the Silver Surfer idea that could be really cool, there might be a way to do a movie like that with a global warming bottom to it, where you could hit that theme. So I’m also thinking about that as well, it doesn’t have to be directly about global warming, it could be in something that has it as a part of it. Silver Surfer wouldn’t be hard to do that with, because he leaves his planet, and there’s a lot of stuff about planets in there – and with your genius Christian Bale idea, maybe that’ll happen.
Vice is in UK cinemas on January 25.