On Feb. 24, winners will be crowned at the 91st Academy Awards. But before the red carpet is rolled out and envelopes are opened, Entertainment Weekly has inside intel on the 2019 nominees. Keep checking back at this week for spotlights on contenders in all the major categories.

Sam Rockwell
Starring In: Vice
Age: 50
Oscar past: 1 nomination, 1 win
Role call: The 43rd president of the United States and unwitting Dick Cheney foot soldier George W. Bush

George W. Bush has been ripe fodder for actors and comedians for nearly 20 years, but in Adam McKay’s Vice, Sam Rockwell imbues the former president with something new. Rockwell’s Bush is sort of a Texan frat boy-turned-mark, whose path to the presidency presents an opportunity for Dick Cheney (Christian Bale).

To prepare for the role, Rockwell watched takes by his predecessors — including Josh Brolin, Steve Bridges, and Will Ferrell (who served as a producer on Vice) — before immersing himself in recordings and footage of the actual 43rd president. “Oddly, for such little screen time [in Vice], it felt like a lead role because when I was away, I had to listen to [Bush] and that was weird,” Rockwell says. “It’s a very small part, but I had to stay in it.”

Mission accomplished.

Related content:

Vice (2018 movie)
Adam McKay’s film, starring Christian Bale as Cheney, is slick, wildly meta, and occasionally too-clever.
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