“People suffered as they did and yet no one was held accountable and nothing seemed to change,” says ‘The Big Short’ producer-actor.
A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
On the afternoon of Nov. 23, The Big Short is premiering in New York, just a cab ride away from the epicenter of the financial meltdown of the mid-2000s. The film’s Brad Pitt is livid that greed continues unfettered and justice is elusive. “It’s disgusting. It makes me angry,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter of the Wall Street-generated housing and credit bubble that left millions without a home due to foreclosure. “What I liked about the film is that it tries to explain to people how they got screwed.” Pitt, who also produced the $28 million film through his Plan B Entertainment, hopes the film spurs the public to question exactly how this happened. In a wide-ranging conversation, Pitt talks about why he opted for a small role, how comedy director Adam McKay won the job and whether or not he blames President Obama for the lack of accountability.
How did you become involved as a producer?
Well we got the book. We’re sitting on this great book by Michael Lewis, and it was a subject that I really wanted to take on — still wondering, questioning, angered by the fact that this whole collapse happened and people suffered as they did, and yet no one was held accountable and nothing seemed to change. And it’s true nothing has really changed. So we were lucky to win Michael’s book and we set about developing the script, so we started with Charles Randolph, and we got a really smart, insightful script but still, this kind of material is very, very difficult to get made these days. So I had met Adam McKay a few years prior. We were looking, talking about doing a film about Lee Atwater that he had developed. And I walked away completely charmed by him and absolutely impressed with his knowledge of global affairs and his wit. And my partners had been talking to him at the same time about something, and it just made sense. It just felt like the perfect [fit] if we could get Adam on. It would be the perfect kind of balance and delivery system for this kind of material. And it’s fair to say once it went through Adam’s filter, we really felt like we had our script, we had our story.