HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 28: Screenwriters Adam McKay, left, and Charles Randolph winners of the Best Adapted Screenplay for ‘The Big Short,’ pose in the press room at the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Dan MacMedan/WireImage)

Adam McKay essentially reinvented himself from a writer, producer and director known largely for comedy (especially teaming with his production partner Will Ferrell) into a filmmaker of consequence with last year’s The Big Short. Rather than another slapstick comedy about an overgrown man-boy, McKay took on the complex story of the role credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations played in the economic collapse of 2008.

It’s difficult to imagine McKay going back to dumb comedies after that breakthrough (though hopefully he won’t deprive our culture of another memorable collaboration with Ferrell down the line). He also has membership in the Marvel clubhouse after writing Ant-Man and its upcoming sequel Ant-Man and The Wasp. Additionally, he’s attached to write and direct a movie about controversial blood-testing company Theranos that will star Jennifer Lawrence. But up next for McKay will be a rather serious subject: a movie about former vice president Dick Cheney.


As reported by Deadline’s Mike Fleming, the film will follow Cheney’s path from CEO at Halliburton to becoming the vice president under George W. Bush. During his eight years in office, Cheney was a strong advocate for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11 and was also responsible for the “enhanced interrogation” techniques that included waterboarding suspects with ties to international terrorism. Few people in recent political history have been as controversial. How many political figures have been likened to Darth Vader and embrace the comparison?

“I’ve always found Cheney fascinating,” McKay told Fleming. “Questions of what drove him, what his beliefs were; but once we started digging I was astounded at how much he had shaped modern America’s place in the world and how shocking the methods were by which he gained his power.”

Cheney has been portrayed on film once before, by Richard Dreyfuss in Oliver Stone’s 2008 W., which certainly steered into the perception of the vice president as a megalomanical figure who encouraged conflict in the Middle East to take control of the world’s oil, envisioning a potential global empire. McKay might be less overt in expressing his feelings about Cheney, but Stone’s depiction is a generally held perception of the man.

No word on what material McKay could be adapting for his script, such as Barton Gellman’s 2008 examination of Cheney titled Angler. With so much reported on the former vice president during his years in office and the eight years since, there is certainly a wealth of content for McKay to draw from.

Yet for all that’s been written and investigated regarding Cheney, he’s still a rather mysterious, shadowy figure. Though he may no longer be in the “undisclosed location” that he often reportedly occupied while vice president and presumably lives a quiet life as a civilian now, the general perception of him still seems to be in residing in some sort of lair out in Wyoming.

If McKay’s film can do anything to explain the motivations behind the man, that will be quite an accomplishment. But if he could explain how the housing bubble burst in informative and entertaining fashion, who’s to say he can’t do the same with Cheney?


About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.