Nobody except Adam McKay, the former Saturday Night Live head writer turned director of such unserious movies as Anchorman and Step Brothers, who in March 2014 persuaded Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company, Regency and Paramount to let him bring the book to the screen. McKay, 47, co-wrote the script (with Charles Randolph), tackling head-on the complexities of the subject matter and bringing a satirical edge to the material — a funny, angry, Michael Moore-style piece of advocacy in which the entire American financial system is the villain, complete with characters talking incredulously to the audience and actress Margot Robbie explaining subprime mortgages while sipping champagne nude in a bathtub. With Steve Carell on board as investor Steve Eisman (whose name is changed in the film), Christian Bale as neurologist turned hedge fund manager Dr. Michael Burry and Ryan Gosling as a composite character based on Deutsche Bank trader Greg Lippmann, the $28 million film came together in January (Pitt took a small role as an angel investor, and Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo, Finn Wittrock and many others round out a deep cast). In one of the faster turnaround times for a studio movie, The Big Short was ready for its well-received premiere Nov. 12, ahead of a Dec. 11 release and a spot in this season’s awards race.
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