ByNicholas Staniforth, writer at
Spewing film-related flim-flam and poppycock when necessary. Follow me @nickstaniforth
Nicholas Staniforth

Like the very story the film is based on, The Big Short is a gamble in every sense of the word. With Brad Pitt (who also serves as producer) and a top-notch cast known for delivering only the best, the movie's most unexpected factor is the man behind it all. He's the same genius who gave the world the catchy ditty "Boats 'N Hoes" and the eye-watering scent of Sex Panther. Now, director Adam McKay— of Step Brothers and Anchorman fame—has assembled the award-worthy talents of Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell along with Pitt to help with his first dramatic story focusing on one of the biggest financial crises in American history.

Written by The Blind Side and Moneyball author Michael Davies, The Big Short tells the true story of the housing bubble that burst in 2008 and profiles the men who were prepared to see it pop. Led by financial investing hawk Michael Burry (Bale), these tearaway traders bet against the banks that were sending their country into a downward spiral and cleared out the accounts with hefty figures in the process.

Even before the film's premiere, the common consensus is that The Big Short is a big success for McKay. An entertaining glance into the frantic and incomprehensible world of finance, The Big Short is only strengthened by the high-caliber group of talent that are just as rebellious as the ring leader they’re following. But, it didn’t take a simple film about financial decline and impressive money-making (well, okay not that simple) to make this cast go against the grain, they’ve been doing it for some time. In fact, that’s exactly why they were such great fits for all these career-defining roles. Check out why Brad, Bale and co. were such a smart investment.

Christian Bale IS Michael Burry

Michael Burry is the man that saw a bubble on the verge of exploding, after spending most of his financial career in a league of his own. It’s this very nature that makes him such a great fit for Christian Bale. In McKay’s movie, the former Dark Knight steps into Burry's shoes (or lack thereof) and becomes the man who witnessed banks taking their naive customers for a ride and making plenty of money from them in the process.

For the majority of the film, Burry is separated from the other key players in this particularly large game, which is a process fitting for an Oscar-winning actor that has proven to operate on another level of talent in any film he’s in. Delivering sterling performances ever since American Psycho, Bale has displayed levels of dedication that few have dared to replicate, but Burry is a rare exception with his powerhouse of a work ethic.

Describing himself as an "outsider" who "analyzes" any group he finds himself in, Burry certainly shares an impressive sense of intuition with his onscreen counterpart. Originally taking up financial investment banking as a hobby (because, why not?) while studying neurology in med school, Burry pushed himself to juggle stocks and surgery—until he fell asleep standing up during an operation. Talk about dedication! Of course, Bale’s no stranger to pushing his own limits (and his waistline) for roles in movies like The Machinist and American Hustle. Additionally, he powered through this one for an energetic drumming sequence (Burry’s a massive metal fan) with a rather nasty knee injury. We who rock salute you.

Ryan Gosling IS Jared Vennett

With the brains of the outfit drumming away at the discovery, our eyes and ears to the whole fiasco belong to Ryan Gosling as slick-haired, smooth-talking Jared Vennett. A character based on real-life financial tycoon Gregg Lippmann, Vennett is a rebellious gambling man just as Gosling has been in the past. For Lippmann, it was taking a huge bet on something only few others could see and putting his reputation on the line for it. For Gosling, it's his risk-taking roles in movies like Only God Forgives as well as his directorial debut with Lost River.

Known by many in his circle as "Bubble Boy," Lippmann was the broker who preached the gospel of Burry and kept at it until a meeting in an office finally got the results he needed. It wasn’t just the facts, of course, it was the charm and confidence that Lippmann had in spades, and Gosling replicates brilliantly in one particular scene. Explaining just where the money is going and how to get a hold of it with a Jenga tower, Gosling’s finesse and fast mouth bring Vennett to life.

Steve Carrell IS Mark Baum

Already having a relationship that stretches back to when Adam McKay put a grenade in his hand, former Channel 6 weatherman Steve Carell reunites with the director as The Big Short’s angriest good guy, Mark Baum. With this role, McKay got the best of both Steves; the good soul that we learned to love in the likes of The Office with an edge that has only grown sharper with the likes of The Way, Way Back and his Oscar-nominated role in Foxcatcher. It’s a character that we would question Carell taking on a decade ago, but now that we're older and wiser, he's clearly the perfect fit. Playing this tortured soul in the Wall Street trades, Baum was a role that spoke to Carell from the get-go, and one that those aforementioned character traits made the perfect match.

Balancing the good with the bad, Carell’s character is based on Steve Eisman, who dealt with over $1 billion and is an integral character to Lewis’s original book. Carell has always brought a heavy heart to the characters who are constantly worn down, and Baum is no different. He can see the cracks showing in the very business he’s in and wants to expose them as best he can. An underdog with a big bark, you can expect many LOUD NOISES coming from Baum’s office for most of McKay’s movie.

Brad Pitt IS Ben Rickett

While Gosling plays with Jenga blocks, Carell looks on perplexed, and Bale hammers the drums with a knee the size of a grapefruit, Brad Pitt lingers both in front of and behind the camera as the man who does everything. In addition to backing the project with his company, Plan B Productions, he also takes to the cinematic stage in a discreet role that sees him hanging back while the rest of the boys take charge.

Pitt’s Ben Rickett is an advisor to the operation that’s led by a group of young bloods who start seeing bubbles and go straight to the top with them. It’s not too different from being a producer, really: making connections, sealing deals and making sure that everything runs smoothly—definitely familiar territory. That is until stocks and shares enter the equation and Pitt goes to great lengths to study for the role and the arena in which he operates. The real Rickett is prepared for the worst, and it’s that perspective Pitt wanted to be on, to display the method to the madness which creates a wise, elder-like figure for those around him.

Of course, Pitt is just another piece to a complex but necessary story that is The Big Short. For once, funnyman McKay has gotten serious, and it’s without a doubt a truth that needs to be told.

Make sure to check out 'The Big Short' in theaters December 23rd!


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