With the success of The Blind Side and Moneyball, Hollywood loves Michael Lewis’ books, but how do you turn a highly engaging but very deep dive into the housing market crisis, credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligation into a movie? “You have to break the fourth wall, you have to play with the form of the movie,” The Big Short director Adam McKay told me onstage at The Contenders Presented By Deadline last month.

contenders-sold-outAfter showing six-minute exclusive clip from the upcoming Paramount pic to a full DGA Theatre audience of AMPAS and key guild members, McKay told the crowd that the film about the outsiders who saw the economic crisis of 2008 coming was a passion project for him and its stars. When those actors include Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt, whose Plan B produced The Big Short, that passion has some strong star power and chops. “At the end of the day, I thought this was a character story,” added McKay. “If I, the guy who did Step Brothers, can get this, then I think we all can,” the seasoned director noted of the details and fine print behind the Great Recession.

Click on the video above to watch more of my conversation with McKay as part of the Paramount panel. The Big Short opens in limited release December 11 and goes wide on December 23.