Golden Globes: ‘Vice’ Producer On Dick Cheney Biopic & HBO Drama ‘Succession’

A day after the state funeral of President George H.W. Bush, the Dick Cheney biopic Vice leads all films with six nominations for the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards. It was a jarring backdrop but Vice has lived on the edge of history throughout its journey to the screen, according to producer Kevin Messick.

“I think in a strange way there’s been different historical flashpoints from the past that have occurred during the writing of the film, then the production of the film and now as the film is about to release,” he said. “It’s interesting to have history play out and connect back to the film.”

Messick said his response to the juxtaposition was a simple wish: “Our hope is it just adds to the conversation of what the film is exploring,”

Annapurna Pictures’ Vice was nominated for Best Actor (Christian Bale), Director and Screenplay (both Adam McKay), Motion Picture Comedy or Musical, Supporting Actor (for Sam Rockwell, who plays George W. Bush) and Supporting Actress (for Amy Adams, who plays Cheney’s wife, Lynne).

A fairly savage portrait of Cheney, the film produced by Gary Sanchez Productions and Plan B Entertainment opens wide in theaters on Christmas Day, making it a “polarizing express” as a holiday release. It won’t sit well with conservative pundits that Rockwell got nominated just a day after his real-life character struggled through grief to eulogize his late father for a national audience.

The churn of events has been a lot for Messick to take in. He pointed out that the project never was an endeavor for the squeamish.

“The biggest challenge we had was simply making a film about Dick Cheney, period,” Messick said. “Only with the unique storytelling ability of Adam McKay would any of this ever be possible. He’s really carving out new territory in terms of storytelling as a filmmaker. I think he put that in effect with The Big Short and upped the game even more with Vice. It was a fun challenge to take on.”

Messick also was celebrating Thursday for the nomination earned by his dark HBO family saga Succession (for co-star Kieran Culkin as Supporting Actor), which soon will be ramping up production on its Season 2.

The film and series are conjoined in their birth. McKay still was finishing the screenplay for Vice in New York when he started directing the pilot for Succession. The script was finished and sent to Bale by the time the pilot wrapped production.

Messick said watching McKay’s surging success has been a producing privilege, especially when the vantage point makes him privy to the strong reactions elicited by the film’s deft craft.

The loudest opinions about Vice are being expressed by people who haven’t seen it and probably never will. Does that frustrate Messick or has he resigned himself to the fact?

“It’s a good question but a tricky one to answer,’ he said. “You hope the conversation about the film takes place among those who have seen it. We’ve absolutely seen there’s a healthy debate after the film that will carry audiences in a good way to the parking lot to their cars or the discussions they have at home. That’s a good thing.”

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