Oscar nominee Adam McKay talks the making of 'Vice'

McKay appears on "Popcorn With Peter Travers" and talks about the making of his new film, "Vice."
19:59 | 02/08/19

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Transcript for Oscar nominee Adam McKay talks the making of 'Vice'
Hi everybody I'm Peter Travers this is popcorn where we tell you what's happening at the movies. And it's a terrific movie out right now. Called vice. Which I loved which you might have different opinions about but I don't care because. I'm here with Adam McKay who wrote directed and produced. What did you do. Started it you get it does I have to all the products all the waves although wardrobe so that wasn't Christian Bale leukemia did you ever that was made. That was me it was a four Europe ever to host could do it. So congratulations anyway and all of your Golden Globe nominations. Q4 aces guys. And I know you like most people do. What the big short. You would the anchorman guy you're the guy that made us laugh. Without having any kind of left that might stick in our throats. We cannot what happened. Invites went did this happen when was this transformation and you where you said I'm gonna do something more. Guy that we we have a lot of fun man will fare on we've got to do you anchorman and step Brothers holiday unites all those movies. And the world kept getting crazier. And crazier and crazier and and then I collided with a great book Michael lewis' big short. Apps like this is a movie it couldn't getter off my brain. And so I got lucky eventually. We rarely get financing Florida got a cast for eight. And it was really bonds in the movie where you didn't have to worry about having a laugh with every two and he and I liked having that room with it so it was enjoyable. Not to say that won't work with Will Ferrell get which I definitely will expect to hear because I thought maybe you would just say I'm sorry have moved on. News I don't know no other way should tellem that just soups and now now. But he's already plagued yes though you know all he's done that onstage as definitive WDBO Fiat. And so now say Iraq was taken as part. That he can see come up and saying. And now is good and I cannot imagine that you've got a cast of thousands and news. He was you know he was so great because Rockwell did a totally different kind of W bush and. A lot of people like why not cast will in it but I thought it's so famous. It'll draw your focus in that direction no will was incredibly supportive. And he's huge for them Sam Rockwell's. That was great except for a little quiet. But that's okay use pencils in the corner in the quarter. Are so Dick Cheney why. Why did you say it I have this thing in mind that movie needs to be written and directed by me about this. Most powerful wall vice president's you know I really felt like you know we all know that he was powerful vice president we all know about W bush. And the more credit I was just astounded by how much this guy changed history and and even been down that so I. Not only. Six. Having you know I'll let you put your own valued there blood and that I was amazed how we did it. It was like this bureaucratic. Detail he sold every little in Europe governments and and then finally I was just fast and public who is this guy like I think we all know what shot a guy in the face an opening and and you know what else your war. Things like that but how did he do it is and the more I kept digging into a house is fascinated by it and then I got very lucky. Christian Bale was on board. Well yes and Christine that's just show up on this Wednesday to act out being locked out of the evening. Not sure of the exact amount it was definitely north of forty he definitely put on some way he deftly transforms. We definitely and make up he deftly. You know use in chronic movements that he picked up I mean. It was one of the most breathtaking performances riders. When you laugh. In the you do it a lot in this movie and there's that other time we can't laugh at all because. History is being changed that move we can turn we can toss around and praise what is it. The unitary executive the years which basically comes down in history and in your movie to. The Cheney idea. If the president does it and it's a time of national emergency if legal. Say that's true. I may be wrong I think is this a little bit it was date this bush Cheney thing a little bit of praise than to the gentlemen we and White House. I hope it's not upgrade could be seem to like it could it definitely could be it we were. Shocked how much lined up with what was going on now. I mean you know our idea was that we're living in these times that are so ridiculous. And almost beyond comedy but at the same time so tragic so we tried to combine both we try to have a movie that was. Tragic heartbreaking. But also served. And and and sort of falling over itself kind of like the times that we live in now. We just felt like you know what is the genre of the time we live in right now what is. It I mean if you could tell me I'd appreciate it it's certainly not straight comedy it's certainly not straight drama it's kind of this absurd it is. Cartoonish. Tragedy. Way the closest I could go out flat the tragedy budget which. We the oh yeah. Because when I talk to people about by some people will say. We don't McKay did. He's only human side and somebody else will say he's been route he's been horrible to this guy that changed history and a good. And the movie can't actually whole. A little bit of both arguments that I know any of that that Cheney. It is young when he was drinking. GAAP you know he's out there what was on the line you know working on yeah he flunked out of utility became a lineman for the county's news drinking and Campbell song. I mean that's it. And that it got do you is he was messing up his life was completely change. Condit sat up straight if you wanna look at the First Act of Dick Cheney's life is she the whip Smart. Really of dishes strong strong woman from Wyoming's. Get your act together and that's what changed him. But you know we didn't train human eyes we really felt like the idea of just seen character and saying he's. Our hero. What does it accomplish I I I really believe that we all can do the best we can. And it's how that road gets twisty and Ernie that's the story. I think the humanity. In character he's done he's from my point. Really mean things. Makes it scarier. A totally agree it's just if some yes if you say. This is bad guy. Did you just go bad guys gonna do bad things yup. Things in this movie couldn't go they can see saw it we can see him loving his two daughters and then in the scene that I can't ever get out of here. And one of the daughters is running for office. And basically the other daughters a lesbian. And Cheney except that the fact that she was. But when it came to his other daughter running for election he would do that very much like it got father not about. You can bury her it's okay you need to be elected. Yeah it's heartbreaking I I really felt like in the beginning he was a guy we would have known and maybe how to laugh whiz. And I feel like through the seventies and eighties they were people we can understand. But that power just works people in and I think ultimately that's what this movie's about it's about a portrait of power. Well you've been do it. You know big short is is a portrait Alfredsson to yeah yet although much more of a free floating chaotic power that's about the power like greed in the stock market. Kind of irrational exuberance in this case it was a family sort crafted around power. Are you just power obsessive animus that it and so that you had this fascination out of that. I've been I'm thinking even at anchorman in this these things that there's control this step Brothers. Really want to have the upper hand on each other all that this issue. We found this. That is all about you were you not getting out of us back I'm sad. 10 lead cut to need taking the garbage out last Thursday night when my wife is yelling at me. And dynamic clean up for our dog and a lot of lives about power and control right but when he gets back. Out of control it it can change the world no question about that because other lives are affected by. And you know we up we can say this that this that Dick Cheney. Basically took power from George W. Bush and that I'll take care of all these pesky things you don't wanna Bob yeah. Wait till you get the reaction from to have via. On this movies you invited them to experience a little curious what do you think that it's funny there are still some people out there that it. Know though George W. Bush was the president like it was the president. But Cheney Plato you know and there's still people defensive. About that office. I would guess he would love it right it's not the most flattering portrait for theft. I actually think hotly Cheney might like it I think Cheney might be okay with it. Except for maybe the very ending but otherwise it's pretty accurate it shows what he did when he was in office people come up to you they well and they are in this day. What are you really think it changes. I'm gonna say see my movie being caught. Yeah the end they won't have definitive answer they've blocked. Will with the default does any scare you. It scares the crap Hamas one of the most powerful guys yet come down the pike in America there's no doubt. He changed the scope of global socio economic history I mean he's an incredibly powerful guy. But I do you see some humidity I mean there is a part of me that feels a little sad for him. By the end what he gave away with his family when he gave way would this country. I'm not sure that was never his intention in the beginning but once again that's why I see a portrait of power because I think our urges to lose the mind. Was the worst of them. I think win 9/11 he would you had a guy that was already obsessed about power. But it suddenly weaponized that point it became like apparently. 9/11 mixed Wii is his obsession power. I think it's when he really became scary guy in my opinion. That's when he became a danger to the world into our country. RT the keys that. Fly fishing motif and in them Pete do because I had an uncle that taught me fishing and he didn't talk now overturn this and my uncle would say he gotta lay in the weeds you gotta wait for the right time for it to happen which is exactly what he did. It's perfect he was just lay in in the weeds and when he saw its opportunity seized. And it's about patience it's about you know being quiet it's about seeing what's happening. You know there was a quote from Lynne Cheney where she said if you want to understand my husband them to know one thing he's applied pressure. It was so obvious we chose not to open the movie was because it was just like gave away the whole movie. But she basically told us like this is a patient guy who looks at T tail. Who could weeks where is. Limit Don Rumsfeld were more more over in their desire for ambition but the thing we've seen with Cheney too good these series of heart attacks you know. This attack and I heard this and have to ask you because you've suffered. A heart attack I was a mild one. Just after you finished shooting it's actually true story was two weeks after I finish filming. I was working now my trainer and I was like I'm not doing great health wise I stupidly smoked for years which is the worst thing you can do. And I was working now them and I got like ten believe hands kind of a source Dominic. And he was like you know are you okay and I said. I'm fine cause to believe stomach and chest pain arm pain you can go. And then when he left I remembered Christian Bale telling me one of the more common ways. When we were doing one of the Cheney heart attack scenes. He told me he wanted to do with a a queasy stomach it's one of the more common ways that it happens. And rape their and that moment I went oh my god I ran upstairs and I took like four baby aspirins. And I called 911. And then my doctor was like 12. It was like. Only lead actor. It all I'm the direct. And I wrote. He gave the actors a true story you're actually had an after. There isn't true story. And I called bill a week later that's it looked first and foremost I'm okay. There was no damage done the doctor actually told me said the cards you've got yours so quickly. There was no damage to your heart. And so I told bill that goat don't worry about me don't worry about me. But I think you say about life. Maybe. He just laughed bulges. What you were started ramping you're in the clear because. I doubt it I don't the war Dick Cheney's at which idiot it's in which case thank you mr. Cheney visited him yet that took plus com. Yet now I my particularly on. What. But you know you you had shows in this business this was quick to wheat with a tattered that you started with his right now. You're the improper group right yeah. Second city in Chicago the Ohio theater we started the upright citizens brigade who have. Come gigantic and out of all of that I got a job site alive that's where it started directing short films did you try to get a job on Saturday Night Live on camera talent. They did they had me audition. As an on camera talent. But I knew I don't do impressions and I don't care I'm basically one of those guys was like. Perilous to your wariness is ridiculous because he's an all time great but that school of comic in the sense of just usually myself. So I was Smart April Scripps would solos on stage and addition. OK job. But when I got offstage I also write and a week later got a call but you with a guy got up in the audience now. Yeah we do that sometime back that I would view. It's all everybody exactly yeah exactly. So I got to have the fun job where I was writing and directing but also yelling stuff and it. And then of course we will you are. Basically Funny or Die and your toward. Daughter pearl your dog she's great she's thirteen years old like Abbott she was like 58 when she Shahi is I am a grown lady now basically and she's doing great she's an eighth grade and dances and scenes and please vitally in and and doesn't rain will Farrow for rent. If she stilted it would be so grades. And quite amount oh my god you know it all was was that was that age where you would say stuff to issued repeated. That you would instantly forget it it's like that weird little two month period so. To this day she still gets kicked she was offered Jackie Chan movie which. Still the craziest thing I've ever and she was asked to be on Ellen DeGeneres is well. Blog and end by asking you this question about what you would say if you could. And you've got to Cheney on the phone look at what would you say what would you find anything you've had this opportunity. I would just say honestly between you me never repeated to anyone else I swear. Are there ever ever moments that you regret any. And what are those moments. We want that answer do you hear that mr. Cheney we have to have that that's the way to Canada will leave two tickets. At every theater in Washington DC. And I will leave two tickets to every Peter in Wyoming. And Virginia. For living ticked ago they ever want to go. With popcorn. Cynthia popcorn I'm not that can't do it. I can't popular other routes that aren't are but like Audi go to apply. All right well I know from the last time you were here we ended song where you do yes yes. So what have you prepared something for me I've not appear to song for the cheneys. So a gem rules solid general stomp it out afternoon delight was that kept Charlotte song an increment but. It took us a good news I think it's a love song. We're Dick and Lynne Cheney. Lou rich news rich. Muse sweep Lynn. May I were my and it cross your wrinkled sheet. And may you can use against my. Where that was going. With almost Shakespearean thoughts which the movie also almost. Horrified I think it was archive. Will be back out. I just how I think it would presenting it. That's right it would free island dragon. Haven't had you have a happy ending or it happened in Newton right art. My name is Richard Cheney and walked on down the two power. And I have oh. One of brilliant minds economy. Just be get it fixed it up and then there's no finished about if that would. You know bottles. That through stating that like to do you. He's too old that it and use all that power to invade Iraq. Because I love Lian. Viewed in. Actually that song is very revealing in. About strictly up. I'll thank. It. That took three tries but now I think I thought what. Thank you Adam McKay by playa haters that that.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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