Former Vice President Dick Cheney has a reputation for secrecy, but for a new documentary coming out this Friday, he gave an unprecedented level of access to filmmaker RJ Cutler. The documentary, The World According to Dick Cheney, chronicles Cheney's four-decade-long career.
Cutler says he's not sure what ultimately convinced the former vice president to agree to the documentary, but it seems that he may have been partially convinced by the planned name for the documentary.
"What I offered him was the opportunity to be the central driving voice of a film told his story and that was my goal, to put his voice at the center of the film," Cutler tells Politics Confidential. "I told him that I was planning to call the documentary The World According to Dick Cheney, and he liked that."
Cutler has covered many political figures over the course of his film-making career and is perhaps best known for his documentary based on former President Bill Clinton The War Room. When asked to share his greatest insight from making this documentary, Cutler responds that "it's all illuminating" because the former vice president was candid in his interviews.
"He spoke very honestly about his whole career and then of course about the policies that he championed and the ways in which he made sure that they were enacted in the wake of September 11, and this is, as you know, not a man who's in retreat. Dick Cheney is somebody who believes every bit today as ever before that these policies were the ones that were right for America," says Cutler.
While Cheney is the driving voice throughout the documentary, there are also interviews with Cheney's closest confidants, including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his former chief of staff David Addington, in addition to journalists and scholars who have studied Cheney. A major takeaway from these interviews, Cutler says, is that September 11 was a major turning point in Cheney's life--and his politics.
"We found the conclusion mostly to be that Vice President Cheney's turning point was September 11, that in the wake September 11, he became obsessed even with the idea of making sure that America was never attacked again on its own soil and he sees himself as having succeeded in that goal," Cutler says.
Cutler spent a total of five days with Cheney in making the documentary; the first four days were filled with intensive interviews, and on the fifth day, the former vice president invited him and his crew to go fly fishing with him for the first time after his heart transplant. While Cutler says Cheney receives a fair portrayal in the documentary, he does have one regret.
"We didn't do him right in the film in this way and that is he caught a 20 inch fish when we fly fishing and we didn't include that in the film and he deserved better than that," Cutler jokingly notes.
To hear more about the creation of Cutler's documentary, and to gain more insight into the controversial former vice president, check out this episode of Politics Confidential.
ABC's Eric Wray, Alexandra Dukakis, and Betsy Klein contributed to this episode.