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Before Christian Bale Played Dick Cheney in ‘Vice,’ He Almost Played George W. Bush in ‘W’

Exit Bale; enter Thanos

A decade before Christian Bale hypnotized “Vice” audiences with his portrayal of Vice President Dick Cheney, he almost played Cheney’s boss, President George W. Bush.

Some might say we have it backwards: “Vice” makes a strong case that Cheney, not Bush, was in charge. What’s beyond debate is how close Bale came to playing Bush in Oliver Stone’s 2008 film “W.”

Stone told MTV at the time of the film’s release that Bale spent months studying Bush’s mannerisms and vocal tics, but, as MTV put it, “ultimately backed out of the film at the last minute after he reportedly felt that the hair and makeup tests simply weren’t working.”

“Well frankly, Christian’s a very methodical actor,” Stone told MTV. “And he has to have the makeup thing work for him.”

Stone said he had no hard feelings toward Bale, whom he replaced with Josh Brolin, who turned in a very solid performance as George W. Bush. Playing the president of the free world was also good practice for playing Thanos, the most powerful entity in the universe, in “Avengers: Infinity War” and its upcoming sequel, “Avengers: Endgame.”

Things worked out well for Bale, too: In 2011, he won a best supporting actor Oscar for “The Fighter.” And he just won a best actor Golden Globe for playing Cheney, and in his acceptance speech thanked Satan “for giving me inspiration for playing this role.”

Sam Rockwell delivers an uncannily good vision of Bush in Adam McKay’s film, capturing both the nuances and too-casual approach to big decisions that clouded the Cheney presidency. Sorry: We mean the Bush presidency.

We came across the detail about Bale almost playing Bush while researching our latest “Shoot This Now” podcast which is about a Texas weight-loss mogul whose more than $100-million empire came crashing down.

We start talking about “Vice,” Adam McKay and Christian Bale around the 23-minute mark, and you listen on Apple or Spotify or right here:

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