Manhattan’s MOMA hosted the premiere of HBO’s “Too Big To Fail” last night, and the film’s stars chatted with Business Insider about the very real Wall Street players they played.
Long story short: they’re glad they don’t have their characters’ jobs.
But that doesn’t mean they sympathize with them.
BI: What about the real Dimon did you use to inform your performance as him?
BP: He's very charismatic. It was a great chance to play someone very intelligent, someone who's a clear thinker that you then see, through this process, being exposed. He's not used to sitting there being called out by the school teacher -- none of them were, really. And they just got pissed.
BI: They had to think of you first when they went to cast Buffett.
EA: Well, I didn't know they would -- but my impressions of him have always been favourable. For his mass of wealth, for the honesty he projects, for the fact that he thinks he should be taxed more than he is. He says yes and he says no -- he knows exactly how full of crap everybody is. And he does it all from his kitchen.
BI: In the film, as in life, maybe, it often falls to Michele to keep some perspective on the situation as it unfolds.
CN: I spent some time with her, and I think she felt it was up to her to lay out the big picture. That's really what she did. She had to say to them, 'Hey, we can't just dictate things here. Public opinion does matter.' And she had to say it as the only woman in the room.
BI: It must have felt good to play Flowers. You're basically the only person in the movie who gets to be the cock of the walk, who isn't crumpling.
MOK: I made a cold call to Flowers' office and he let me come by. He told me that this was the most exciting weekend of his entire career. The thing I wanted to do was just to have a lot of fun playing the only guy who gets to walk around going, 'You guys really fucking blew this, didn't you?'
BI: The movie really highlighted Geithner as a fitness buff -- you're running or playing tennis the whole time you're onscreen.
BC: Yeah. I did not know that about him before the movie. I think the guy has the capacity to do everything he does because he keeps himself in great shape. And I talked to a lot of his aides about how they had to make space in his schedule for that stuff. He has to do it. He needs it.
BI: What attracted you to this project?
CH: I knew nothing about finance beforehand. When they came to me with this idea, I thought, 'Who's going to care about a bunch of guys in suits?' But what made it interesting to me was the human story with Paulson, who found out the only way to deal with this crisis was to do something he was always against -- government intervention. And also the story of Dick Fuld, who just comes off as this obnoxious arsehole until his world starts falling apart.
BI: You got to meet with Mack before playing him. What was that like?
TS: We met a few weeks before we started filming. I went to his office -- Morgan Stanley, 48th floor. Just being there really helps you get an idea of the high, high stakes he was dealing with. But he was very open and personable, and I hope to be with him again after the film comes out. I hope he'll think I did him justice.
BI: Those scenes with so many Wall Street execs gathered around a table over the crucial crisis weekend are so tense. Did you maintain that vibe between takes?
AM: Frankly, these guys hate each other. Their egos are up in the solar system. So yes, when we were in that mood -- we kept our distance from each other on the set.
BI: You're not onscreen for too much time, but your Barney Frank is really fun. He has to be among the more enjoyable politicians to play.
DS: Absolutely. He's an intriguing person -- very smart, very candid. A fighter.
BI: He could definitely carry his own movie. If someone comes up with a script, would you play him again?
DS: Yes. Definitely. The answer is yes.
BI: In this film, it seems like you're always smack in the middle of the chaotic, pressure-cooker, hammering-it-out situations. Did Wilkinson give you a window into what that was like?
TG: Yeah. I had lunch with him and he said he just wasn't sleeping at all during that time. If they messed up, there were going to be bread lines. And the worrying didn't stop the day he left the job. He still worries now.
BI: We definitely didn't think of you when we thought of John Thain. What made you interested in the idea of playing him?
MM: Only that I didn't find him interesting at all.
BI: Did playing him make you sympathetic to him, at least?
MM: No. I mean, it's like tobacco -- you have to answer to shareholders with profit, and yet that profit might mean millions of people are worse off for it. Then you have to sleep at night. And I don't think John Thain has any trouble sleeping at night.
BI: Because of where the film picks up, Callan isn't around for long. What did you find interesting about the part, small as it is?
AC: I found her so fascinating -- she rose so quickly at a time when the company was really going under. It was almost like she was picked to be a smoke screen, a distraction, in a way. She was like the Sarah Palin of Lehman Brothers, and then she was gone. When I tried to find out what she's doing now, it was mostly, like, she's doing yoga on Long Island. I think she was just like, 'That's enough.'
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