The Real Reason Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Christian Bale And Brad Pitt Look So Ugly In The Big Short

Have you noticed yet that this year’s Oscar race, as is often the case, has a number of incredibly good looking A-listers going “ugly” for their awards-worthy roles? Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy are almost unrecognizable as vengeful frontiersman in The Revenant. Both Matt Damon and Chris Hemsworth shed the pounds for The Martian and In The Heart of the Sea, respectively. The Hateful Eight cast desperately needs a shower. And the men of The Big Short have embraced a very non-Wall Street look as they place a magnifying glass over the recent financial crisis. As it turns out, though, there is a very specific reason for this approach.

Pound for pound, Adam McKay’s The Big Short might have the year’s best-looking ensemble. I’d feel pretty comfortable walking down the red carpet with Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Karen Gillan, Max Greenfield, Finn Wittrock, Margot Robbie, Rafe Spall and Steve Carell in my corner. That’s a good-looking corner. And yet, McKay buries his cast under an array of bad wigs, questionable fashion options and exaggerated make up. Pitt and Bale are almost unrecognizable. When I interviewed McKay about The Big Short, I learned that these looks were created by design, for this reason:

The whole nature of this story, it’s about outsiders. It’s about guys who aren’t the well-dressed people. … These are the guys who don’t have the thousand dollar haircuts. These are the guys who don’t wear the six thousand dollar suits. These are the kind of shlubby, off-beat kind of guys who, when you’re in a room with them, don’t make eye contact, or in the case of [Steve] Carell’s character, are loud and boisterous. So, they couldn’t look like movie stars. If they did, it would literally undercut the entire movie, the whole point of it.So, that was a big thing with the movie. When I talked to these guys, I was like, you can’t... Christian Bale, no problem, he’s going to become the character. Carell was excited, but like, we all discussed, there has to be something off about your look. You can’t just be, you can’t look like Ryan Gosling walking around in a Wall Street movie. So, you know, we really worked hard on it.Our hair person, Adruitha [Lee], is pretty amazing and we just really tried to come up with these looks. The real guys’ hair is actually way more extreme than what we did. … So, yeah, they had to look off. They couldn’t be well-dressed. They couldn’t have perfect hair that looks like, you know, the guys from Goldman Sachs. So there was a clear delineation made from the guys from the big banks and the guys from the small little companies.

Working from the book by Michael Lewis (Moneyball), The Big Short introduces audiences to a small band of financial wizards who predicted the eventual collapse of our nation’s fragile housing market and, against the recommendations of practically everyone, bet against it. In the process, the movie shows how flawed the banking and finance system was in our country… as well as how broken it still remains.

Directed by Adam McKay, The Big Short stars Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Marisa Tomei, Finn Wittrock, Melissa Leo, Karen Gillan, Margot Robbie (in a brilliant cameo), Jeremy Strong, Rafe Spall, Max Greenfield and Brad Pitt. It will open in select theaters on December 11, before going wider on December 23. 

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.