Adam McKay usually directs comedies like “Step Brothers” and “Anchorman,” but this year, he decided to stray from that genre to work on “The Big Short” because he simply loved Michael Lewis‘ book so much.
“There have always been things that I’ve been really interested in, and I’ve always just been a giant fan of film,” McKay told TheWrap. “When I read this book, it just seemed to combine all those elements perfectly in the sense that … I felt like ‘The Big Short’ was so immediately hot and about now and it still hadn’t been resolved when I read it.”
McKay was nominated for an Academy Award in the category Best Director for “The Big Short” on Thursday. The film, starring Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling, chronicles a group of men who predicted the housing bubble collapse in the mid-2000s and decided to take on the big banks. On what’s ordinarily a dense and complicated topic, McKay praised Lewis for making the subject matter easy for readers to understand. In a way, he credits the author for how well the movie turned out.
“The more seemingly boring the subject that’s actually loaded with meaning, that’s the best stuff, and I had never read anything like this,” he added about the book. “When you read the book, you think it’s going to be dry, you think it’s going to be about nothing, and what Lewis really shows you is that these ideas, first off, aren’t as complicated as we think, and that they are actually the language of power.”
The characters in the movie are betting against the U.S. economy and banking on the failure of the big banks. When asked how McKay actually made the characters likable in the film, he said that the mentality of the real-life people on which the movie is based helped make the film appealing because they “didn’t know that’s where it was going — they believed in the market.”
And although they profited in the end, with some characters having made millions of dollars, the collapse of the housing bubble “still chewed them up.”