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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

The Big Short

by director Adam McKay

I had read Michael Lewis’ bestselling book The Big Short about a year after it came out. After making the movie The Other Guys with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, I had taken an interest in the financial collapse of 2008. According to trusted friends The Big Short was the definitive book to read on the subject.

I picked it up at 9:30pm as my wife and I headed to bed and didn’t put it down until 6:00am the next morning. I knew instantly this was one of the most important (and entertaining) books of our time. I, however, was primarily known for doing broad, absurdist comedies like Anchorman and Step Brothers, so I let the excitement pass. Two years later my agent asked me what my dream project was. Before I had time to think I responded, "The Big Short." Luckily Brad Pitt’s company, Plan B, was open to letting me take a crack at the script. And that was it.

So why was I dying to make this movie? And why couldn’t I put the book down four years ago? Because The Big Short isn’t just about banking and financial fraud; it’s about outsiders who saw what we couldn’t see as we partied with the herd and mainstream perspective. The book is about greed, fear, overconfidence, excess and a lack of curiosity. But it’s also about brave and strange characters who did step away from the pack and ask questions. These characters needed to be portrayed by actors willing to transform—actors willing to be strange or obnoxious or shlubby.

Fortunately some of the best cinematic actors working today signed on for the project. Christian Bale plays Dr. Michael Burry, a former neurosurgeon with a glass eye who has one spectacular skill: he can analyze numbers. Steve Carrell added twenty pounds and transformed to become Mark Baum, a crusader and loud mouth who hates one thing: Wall Street BS. Ryan Gosling skillfully portrays Jarred Vennet, a slick big bank insider who thinks like an outsider. And a barely recognizable Brad Pitt becomes Ben Rickert, an end-times prepper who is lured back into the game by two young rookies played by John Magaro and Finn Wittrock.

I think the result is a movie that takes the viewer deeper into Wall Street than we’ve ever gone before. There’s no way any big bank wants audiences to know as much as this movie tells them. And it’s fun… and tragic….

If you don’t believe me, then take a short position. And then hold on.