Not too long ago, America experienced the scariest economic crisis that we’ve seen since The Great Depression. According to stateofworkingamerica.org, The Great Recession—which lasted from Dec. 2007 to June 2009—began with the bursting of an 8 trillion dollar housing bubble. In 2008 and 2009, the U.S. labor market lost 8.4 million jobs, or 6.1 percent of all payroll employment.
Paramount Pictures’ new film tells the story of this financial disaster through a unique point of view. The Big Short, opening everywhere on Dec. 23, tells the true story of four outsiders who saw what the big banks, media and government refused to: the global collapse of the economy.
Their daring investment leads them into the dark underbelly of modern banking where they must question everyone and everything. Based on the true story and best-selling book by Michael Lewis, the film stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Jeremy Strong, Rafe Spall and John Margaro.
“You read these words and you knew it was something special, you knew it was going to be important,” said John Margaro.
Margaro (Not Fade Away, Unbroken, Orange is the New Black) played the role of Charlie Geller. The actor had a lot of financial preparation in order to learn the language of the banking world. With help from the book and professionals, he was able to gain a basic understanding of such a complex topic.
“We had no real knowledge of this,” said Margaro. “We were in contact with the real versions of who we played and they were all very very helpful. The real Charlie was extremely helpful.”
Jeremy Strong (Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, The Good Wife), who played the role of Vinny Daniel, also benefited from getting to know the real Daniel and by using the book as a resource.
“I read the book, I didn’t know Michael Lewis, I didn’t know anything about any of this at all,” said Strong. “The book is really a great read.”
If you’re not an economics or accounting major, the movie can be complicated to follow in the beginning. However, as you get a grasp of what is actually happening, you get a good sense of the importance of what is going on.
“As Brad Pitt will continuously say, the movie finds a way to make this stuff sexy,” Strong said. “I was really blown away by the script and the depth of it.”
As the plot plays out, there are small interruptions where a key character (or even Selena Gomez at one point) will explain to you what some of the elaborate financial jargon actually means.
“It makes a really complex subject accessible and also entertaining,” said Strong.
With the country finally seeming to recover from the recession, there is still a lot of financial conflict that hits close to home. In July of 2013, Detroit filed for the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history, due to debt estimated at $18–20 billion.
“I was just driving over here and the man driving was telling me about GM and the bailout here and all these events were such a ricochet around the world because of globalization and in our country, this is kind of where the dominos started to fall,” said Strong.
This movie is definitely a different take on the recession than one we have probably seen before and it really attempts to make such a dreary topic entertaining in a way that the audience can not only understand what happened, but hopefully realize what kind of effect it on the U.S. and the world.
The Big Short is rated R.