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Subprime loans, collateralized debt obligation, interest rate swaps and tranches: This is the language of The Big Short, a movie that chronicles the crash of the American housing market that led to the 2008 financial crisis.
The film, based on a Michael Lewis book of the same name, follows a group of Wall Street-types who saw the crash coming and figured out how to capitalize on it. Adam McKay, known for his work in comedies like Talladega Nights and Step Brothers, directed the film that features an A-list cast including Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei and Ryan Gosling.
Gosling spoke to The Hollywood Reporter at the Hollywood premiere of the film, which closed the 2015 AFI Fest. The actor said that he learned a lot during the movie and feels that McKay made the movie informative without being condescending.
“Especially in a film that could become very preachy, it is unique. It is educational and it is heart breaking,” said Gosling. “I think there’s a tone in the movie that’s unique and unique to Adam, which is that he’s outraged by something but he hasn’t lost his sense of humor about it.”
McKay also spoke to THR about how he went about making the complex and multifaceted mortgage banking industry accessible to mainstream audiences.
“The second I realized I could talk to the audience — that changed the whole narrative of the script,” the director explained.
McKay used real life celebrities like Selena Gomez and Margot Robbie to explain more complex concepts to moviegoers. The Paramount film also features a fast-talking banker named Jared Vennett — played by a brunette Gosling — who serves as a narrator and takes audiences through the years leading up to the crash.
“The real guy connected a lot of people, so I saw him as the Charon leading us across the river Styx,” said McKay. “I told Ryan that he is our lizard person guiding us through this.”
Carell, who plays morally-conflicted hedge fund manager Mark Baum, says he prepped for the character by learning a whole new set of vocabulary.
“It is a different language,” he explains. “It’s very dense and there’s a lot to understand.”
When asked what he hopes audiences will take away from the film, the actor said, “I hope that it starts conversation. I hope people enjoy it, but I also hope it gets people talking about things.”
He added: “I think that what happened in 2008 is unconscionable. It’s scarier than people understand and certainly scarier then I understood it to be.”
Paramount will release The Big Short on Dec. 11.
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