Delightfully off-beat indie actor Hamish Linklater lends his skills to the deep bench of talent in Adam McKay’s financial meltdown expose, “The Big Short.” But before he could do that he had to try to understand the 2007 housing crisis, and the bizarre economic jargon that helped precipitate the collapse.
You’re dealing with some dense subject matter, but the movie keeps a sense of humor about it.
Yeah, yeah. If you want people to eat their veggies you should probably top it with a little hot fudge and a cherry on top. AndAdam McKayis a master sundae-maker, as we all know.
I’m trying to imagine broccoli with chocolate sauce on it.
Oh, it’s delicious! Oh my God, you haven’t had fondue until you’ve tried it with cauliflower, let me tell you. (laughs)
How do you handle improvisation when dealing with characters who have such a distinct vocabulary?
It’s tricky. You have to unfortunately do a little research so that you have a couple of terms to throw out there. But ultimately you’re not going to get a huge return on cracking wise about CDOs. It’s only funny up to a point, but mostly it’s just inside jokes.
What your own level of understanding of all of this going in?
I definitely went in a virgin and came out a whore as far as my understanding of what was going on. And when you do find out, you do feel totally corrupted, like you have gone into a bordello because it’s just awful. It’s so shocking. The fact that they come up with these terms like “collateralized debt obligation” to hide that they’re basically f—ing you bare — it’s a CDO instead of an FYB — so they’re good at their boring names over there.
What do you think of audiences coming out of this movie pissed off?
That’s good, that’s useful. That’s a good entertainment experience that galvanizes you. I have to say, almost everyone I know who has seen it, they come out like they’ve seen “Saw VII” or something like that. They’ve sweat so much, they feel really paranoid and really upset, and most people jump on the phone with their brokers, if they have them, or call their mothers.
What are your own memories of this crash?
I bought a house around that time, and I was like, “I’m pretty sure I can’t afford this.” And pretty soon it became apparent that I was right. I didn’t have enough money for the house, no matter how much my brokers and everybody told me I did.
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