January 22, 2016 / 4:38 PM / 3 years ago

McKay seeks to keep financial misdeeds topical in 'The Big Short'

LONDON (Reuters) - As turmoil in world markets revives memories of the 2007-2009 financial crisis, “The Big Short” director Adam McKay says he wanted to tackle the misdeeds of Wall Street in an entertaining but hard-hitting way, to ensure they are not forgotten.

Director Adam McKay accepts the award for Best Comedy for "The Big Short" at the 21st Annual Critics' Choice Awards in Santa Monica, California January 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The movie, which has earned five Oscar nominations including best film and best director, is based on the best-selling book by Michael Lewis “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine”.

It stars Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt as outsiders who foresaw the credit and housing crisis that led to massive job losses and recession.

“I felt like it was time once again to kind of talk about these issues,” McKay told Reuters in an interview.

“I mean everyone tried to act like the collapse was over with, we swept everything under the carpet, did a little bit of reform, we’re done, and to me, it felt like a conversation we should be having always, or at least for the next 10 years.”

McKay, who says he knew people affected by the crisis, calls the film “a tragedy even though there is comedy in it”.

He is known for comedies like “Anchorman” and “Talladega Nights” starring funnyman Will Ferrell. That entertaining background is evident in “The Big Short”, namely scenes with celebrities as themselves explaining financial terminology.

“One of the ideas was a question of just what would happen if that celebrity culture actually told you things you needed to hear,” McKay said of the concept.

The film follows the men as they become aware of the looming mortgage meltdown and bet against the American housing market, highlighting the financial misdeeds that led to the crisis.

“What it really shows you is that these banks are built to make profits ... And much like a shark, they’re gonna always swim towards where the injured fish is and we just have to be aware of that,” McKay said.

“Until we change the laws that underpin these banks and corporate structures, nothing’s gonna change ... I wanted people to be a little angry, a little worried, and just to kind of give everyone a heads up like, this is still in play, this isn’t just something that ends and you move on.” 

However McKay believes change is feasible.

“The idea of the banks setting their own rules will not work,” he said. “The only question is do we feel pain to come to that point of change or do we do it before the pain comes.” 

(This story has been refiled to edit lead)

Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Catherine Evans

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