AFI Fest rounded out its weeklong celebration of cinema Thursday with the closing night gala premiere of Paramount’s “The Big Short,” Adam McKay‘s dramatic expose on the housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s.
Stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Marisa Tomei walked the red carpet at Hollywood’s TCL’s Chinese Theatre, along with Ryan Gosling, who happened to also be feting his 35th birthday. (Co-star and Plan B’s Brad Pitt was not in attendance, having walked the red carpet one week earlier for the fest’s opening night premiere of “By the Sea.”)
Gosling, who plays an outsider in the world of high-finance in the film, told press that he did a tremendous amount of research for the film, based on the book “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” by Michael Lewis.
“Adam (McKay) kind of teamed us up with some specialists, we were all sort of sharing information,” he said. “Some of the guys dug so deep they could probably be traders now in their spare time if they wanted.”
“I really felt like the two guys that were super method were Bale and Carrell,” added McKay. “The guys did a lot of deep research that by the time they got onto set they really had their characters. Gosling sort of exists somewhere in-between the movie and the audience, so he was almost more like a writer in the sense that he and I would collaborate on how we would interpret stuff. Gosling was sort of the odd character, but everyone was super collaborative. It was a dream cast.”
What makes the film so “unique,” said Gosling, is that while its subject matter is bleak and depressing, there are funny and uplifting moments peppered throughout.
“The great quality of McKay is that he has this beautiful way of being outraged by something without losing his sense of humor about it,” says Gosling. “Usually people are so blinded by their anger that they can’t see what’s funny in the way that McKay is able to.”
For McKay, who made his mark as a director with broad comedies such as “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” and “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” and as the screenwriter of Marvel’s superhero flick “Ant-Man,” there’s no difference in his approach to material regardless of whether or not it’s a comedy or drama.
“It’s still about storytelling,” he said. “You have to have that engine at the center that is driving the whole thing. And when I say story I don’t necessarily mean a sequence of events — it’s the motional rolling that happens even with comedy. Years ago someone said even with ‘Airplane!’ you still care that they landed that plane. I think the thing that I’m not bad at is that I have a sense of that energy that rolls through a movie.”
Gosling, who called the film “one of the most socially relevant” ones he’s ever made, is hoping the movie will get people talking.
“There’s nothing else like this movie,” he said. “It’s really great to be part of a film that’s not only entertaining but one that educates and engages and can hopefully start a dialogue.”
Paramount opens “The Big Short” on Dec. 23.