Before Christian Bale played Dick Cheney in ‘Vice,’ he almost played George W. Bush in ‘W’

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.

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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HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 10: (L-R) Actress Sibi Blazic, guest and ctor Christian Bale attend The World Premiere of Lucasfilm's highly anticipated, first-ever, standalone Star Wars adventure, 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' at the Pantages Theatre on December 10, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Marc Flores/Getty Images for Disney)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 28: Christian Bale and Sibi Blazic are seen on October 28, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by BG004/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 11: Actor Christian Bale (L) and Sibi Blazic attend the 'The Promise' premiere during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Isaiah Trickey/FilmMagic)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 11: Irish Director Jim Sheridan, producer Mike Medavoy and actor Christian Bale at the The Promise TIFF party hosted by GREY GOOSE Vodka and Soho House Toronto on September 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka )
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 01: Actor Christian Bale and wife Sibi Blazic arrive at the premiere of Broad Green Pictures' 'Knight Of Cups' on March 1, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 01: (L-R) Teresa Palmer, Freida Pinto and Christian Bale arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of 'Knight Of Cups' held at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on March 1, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actor Christian Bale and wife Sibi Blazic attend the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)
Actor Christian Bale posing at the 68th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 06: (L-R) Actors Steve Carell, Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling speak onstage at the 68th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on February 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for DGA)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30: Screen Actors Guild President Ken Howard and Christian Bale attend the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 30, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images for Screen Actors Guild Foundation)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30: Actor Christian Bale and Sibi Blazic attend the 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 30, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for People Magazine)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 17: (L-R) Actors Christian Bale, Amy Schumer and director Adam McKay attend the 21st Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 17, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Critics' Choice Awards)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 17: Actor Christian Bale, winner of Best Actor in a Comedy for 'The Big Short,' speaks onstage during the 21st Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 17, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 10: Actor Christian Bale, left, and Sibi Blazic attend the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 10: Actor Christian Bale attends the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 08: Actor Christian Bale and wife Sibi Blazic arrive at the 16th Annual AFI Awards on January 8, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
(L-R) Actor Christian Bale and wife Sibi Blazic arrive at the 27th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival at Palm Springs Convention Center on January 02, 2016 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)
PALM SPRINGS, CA - JANUARY 02:Actor Christian Bale arrives at the 27th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala at Palm Springs Convention Center on January 2, 2016 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
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