U.S. Markets closed

The Stars of ‘Too Big to Fail’: Lessons Learned

Aaron Task
Editor in Chief
Fin - Daily Ticker - US

The film version of Andrew Ross Sorkin's "Too Big to Fail" debuts on HBO Monday night. I saw an advanced screening of the film and had a chance to catch up with its stars at the New York premiere this week. (See: 'Too Big to Fail', the Movie: Why Andrew Ross Sorkin Is Worried About a Sequel)

In the accompanying video, James Woods, William Hurt, Bill Pullman, Cynthia Nixon, Ed Asner and other members of the stellar cast answer questions about "Too Big to Fail", including: What did you learn while making this film and why is it still relevant today?

James Woods ("Richard Fuld"): "I was like a lot of people — and I don't mean stupid — but ignorant of the complexities of this disaster. I didn't understand until I read the book and did the movie, how close we came to a massive cataclysm."

William Hurt ("Hank Paulson"): "A lot of people do not understand anything about [the crisis] at all, and they need to. Most of feel marginalized [and] outside of any understanding of how the big operation works."

Ed Anser ("Warren Buffett"): People need to see the film "to learn how their economy is run and how they have to serve as watchdogs just as much as the government. If we don't get some better government regulation, the yo-yo is going to drop again."

Cynthia Nixon ("Michele Davis"): "None of the conditions that led to this crisis have changed. If anything, they've set the stage for an even bigger crisis coming up."

The stellar cast, which also includes Paul Giamatti, Bill Crudup, Tony Shalhoub and Topher Grace, is ably directed by Curtis Hanson. The film really is "based on a true story" and Hanson rightfully understood there wasn't a need to add fictionalized drama; there's no love triangle or diversion into made up obstacles that had to be overcome, like childhood trauma or a disapproving parent.

Even though I knew the outcome, I found myself on the edge of my seat and think the film will appeal to both people who followed the crisis closely and those looking for some basic understanding. That alone is an impressive accomplishment and why I heartily recommend the film.

If I have any gripe with the film (and the book), is the view that there were no villains, just people trying to deal with extraordinary circumstances to the best of their abilities. Maybe the heat of the crisis wasn't the time to place blame, but we can't still pretend the events of 2008 were caused by a "100-year flood" rather than the result of conscious decisions made by people at the pinnacle of our society.

For an alternative view on the crisis and its aftermath, see:

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker. You can follow him on Twitter at @atask or email him at altask@yahoo.com