Jeremy Strong of ‘The Big Short,’ Acting and Chewing Gum at the Same Time


Photo

Jeremy Strong

Credit
Amy Dickerson for The New York Times

On his first day of filming on “The Big Short,” about the buildup to the financial collapse of 2008, Jeremy Strong sought some finishing touches for his role. Right up until shooting a scene in which his character, Vincent Daniel, confronts a Standard & Poor’s executive, Mr. Strong was texting with Mr. Daniel, a real-life financial research specialist.

“I was asking him, ‘How would you put her in the hot seat?’” said Mr. Strong, a soft-spoken, full-immersion actor, who channeled hours of hanging out with Mr. Daniel into a portrait of a bristling Wall Street skeptic who saw fault lines in the credit default swap market.

Born in Boston, the Yale-educated Mr. Strong made his Broadway debut in 2008 in a Roundabout Theater Company production of “A Man for All Seasons.” He specializes in films inspired by true events. He was the president’s private secretary in “Lincoln,” a freedom marcher in “Selma,” a C.I.A. analyst in “Zero Dark Thirty” and Lee Harvey Oswald in “Parkland.”

“I’ve always wanted to be part of stories about social justice — urgent, meaningful, substantial dramas,” Mr. Strong, 37, said during an interview in a hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. “It’s strange, but if I asked the universe for anything, it would be for parts in these films.” Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Q. Names were changed in “The Big Short,” but not for your character, Vinny Daniel. Did that affect your performance?

A. You feel a huge sense of responsibility when you’re playing a real person. I think your real task is that you’re there to serve the filmmaker. But me? I felt like I was also there to serve Vinny. [Scrolls through iPhone.] This is Vinny. I carry his picture around with me.

How much research did you do?

A lot. It was all a foreign language to me. I read a lot of books. I spent time on trading floors. I’m nothing like Vinny. I literally have 500 notes in my iPhone of things he’d say, like, “Has anyone cut the tape and looked into the loan level data?” At the time, I knew what that meant. Now it’s all gone back into the ether.

Your character chews gum in every scene.

There’s a scene where I don’t chew gum because we’re at dinner. Otherwise I chew it.

Who came up with this character detail?

[Before we started] I thought, “[Vinny] chews two pieces of Trident all the time.” So the day before we started shooting I went to Adam McKay [the director] and said, “I need to chew two pieces of gum in every scene and shave my head,” and he was like, “Great!”

Given that your co-stars included Steve Carell, Hamish Linklater and Rafe Spall, there must have been a lot of fun on the set.

I admire all these actors so much. But there was a day where people were cracking jokes and laughing, and I started to allow myself to have a good time. I immediately found it distracting and depleting. It was very charged for Vinny because he felt that something really bad was about to happen. He saw a tidal wave, and people were totally unaware. So I thought, These guys can all be in a comedy, but I need to feel like I’m in a global warming catastrophe documentary.

Did you get investment tips from Vinny Daniel?

That was never something I thought about. I’ve never had any money. I still don’t. But what we all learned is definitely alarming. They had a system and still do, as Michael Lewis [the author of the book the movie was adapted from] put it, of distilling toxic waste into artesian spring water. If we keep taking this level of egregious risk, then we’re just going to go right back over the precipice again.



Source link

About admin

Check Also

Holdover Films Chug Away at the Box Office as ‘Last Jedi’ Looms

Photo Dave Franco, left, and James Franco star in “The Disaster Artist,” which had strong ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *