The Big Short, based on the 2010 book “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” by Michael Lewis, is an American biographical comedy-drama film directed by Adam McKay and written by McKay and Charles Randolph. Jared Vennett is the main character in the movie.
The film consists of three separate but concurrent stories, loosely connected by their action in the years leading to the financial crisis of 2007-2008 which was triggered by the United States housing bubble. It focuses on four men who predicted this collapse and therefore made the risky decision of betting against the market and hence profit amazing sums when the collapse, in fact, did occur.
Hedge fund manager Michael Burry deems that the U.S. housing market is unstable due to the high-risk subprime loans and proposes a credit default swap market that allowed him to bet against the market. Deutsche Bank salesman Jared Vennett is one of the first to understand Burry’s analysis using his quantitative analyst to verify that Burry is most likely correct and decides to enter the market by selling the swaps to Mark Baum and collecting commissions and fees by doing so. Young investors Charlie Geller and Jamie Shipley by mistake discover a prospectus by Vennett, convincing them to invest in the swaps as it fits their strategy of buying cheap insurance with big potential payouts.
Who played Jared Vennett?
Ryan Gosling played the role of Jared Vennett in the film. His physical transformation into this character includes a wig and a paler than usual skin tone and has been a source of amusement for the media. The character of Jared is actually based on a real person, Greg Lippmann.
In the film, Vennett is portrayed as an egotistical and highly vain person and serves as a narrator throughout the movie. Lippmann agreed to his story’s involvement in the movie but asked the director to change his name as his character in the movie is portrayed as less than lovable. Gosling met with Lippmann to get a feel for the character of Jared and understand his mannerisms and language.
Gosling told Vulture, “He [Lippmann] was very helpful, in a way, in the sort of helping me to understand as much as is possible the sort of financial lay of the land at the time. He understood the character was loosely based on him, and his purpose in the film was to educate the audience on the overall story. And he was helpful in sort of adding flavor to the character so that he wasn’t just a narrator…”. In a 2010 interview, Lippmann told Observer that he was keen to go back to living his life without being famous. “I look forward to being anonymous again,” he said. Given that Lippmann clearly respects his privacy, one could say that it was diplomatic of him to be involved with the film production to the extent that he was.
In real life, Greg Lippmann, while working as global head of asset-backed security trading at Deutsche Bank, helped devise the mechanism that was used to bet against subprime mortgage debt until he left in April 2010 and was succeeded by Pius Sprenger. In February 2010, he announced that he would be joining a hedge fund started by Fred Brettschneider, formerly Deutsche Bank’s head of global markets. Although Lippmann stayed out of the spotlight, he certainly isn’t out of the game. The finance magnate co-founded an asset management firm called LibreMax Partners which specialized in structured products with Brettschneider and is its Chief Investment Officer and Portfolio Manager.
The US housing market has since recovered, however, and LibreMax’s holdings of residential mortgage securities have shrunk from about 80 percent of its portfolio to 20 percent. LibreMax has been investing in commercial mortgage securities, collateralized loan obligations, and student-loan investments. In recent times, Lippmann is less anxious to find the next big short because they are rare and many trades that appear to have understated asymmetric risk, turn out to be unprofitable.
On screen, Gosling’s version of Lippmann is simultaneously intolerable as well as humorous and witty, often breaking the fourth wall and addressing the validity and stupidity of certain scenes to the audience. Michael Burry played by Christian Bale is the sole character in the film whose name as well as the character wasn’t changed from its real-life counterpart. He embodies his character’s steadfast tenacity like a second skin.
Much like Bale’s depiction, the real Burry was known for walking around his office shoeless, listening to speed metal and wearing crummy T-shirts for weeks at a time. He is introverted, lost an eye as the child, suffers from Asperger’s and his interest in the stock market started as early as second grade. Steve Carell as Mark Baum (based on Steve Eisman), gives a career-defining performance filled with anguish, vulnerability, and humor. In the book, Eisman lost a young child but Eisman didn’t want it in the film so McKay replaced it with the loss of Mark Baum’s brother who committed suicide due to the extreme pressures of the finance world. The real Eisman came to the set and advised Carell on how to act out the true-to-form characterization. A number of the other characters, while still based on the real-life people, had components of their personalities modified for the film.
Ultimately, The Big Short expresses a great deal of complexity, not only in the actions of the film characters but also in the emotional contradiction that surrounded what they did. The 2015 movie has an average rating of 7.8 on IMDB rated by more than 200,000 users in the movie database. You can let your comments roll down about the movie if you have watched already.