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Adam McKay’s new financial-apocalypse comedy The Big Short — the subject of this week’s Vulture cover story — was produced by Brad Pitt, who also took a small role in the film to help ensure the production got properly funded. Here, Pitt talks about his sideline as a genuine prestige-movie mogul (with his company Plan B), what it means to team up with author Michael Lewis again, and his personal outrage in 2008.

Lately it seems like there are a lot of actors with production companies adapting books — you, Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon. Do things get competitive? For instance, your company, Plan B, recently outbid your pal George Clooney on Law of the Jungle.
In all fairness, he outbid me on Argo. But, yeah, it can get competitive. We do naturally have a lot of the same tastes and interests. With The Big Short, I think maybe we got the upper hand at auction because Michael Lewis and I got tight on Moneyball.

Plan B also has a really good track record of getting movies actually made. What’s your secret?
I was weaned on the films of the ’70s, and a lot of the films we make are inspired by those. But the plain truth of it all is that these kinds of movies are hard to make. The studios don’t want to make them because it doesn’t fit the business model anymore. It’s complicated material, it’s a gamble. They need some guarantee with marquee. So often I jump in and take a part first because I love the project, and I gotta get in to make sure it gets made. Then, when Steve Carell and Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling all jump in, I think it is a testament to the subject matter, and the story, and to Adam McKay’s script.

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