The Big Short is based on real people and events, and it has touched a nerve with viewers.

Carell says this is partly because everyone was affected by what happened. "We all have personal stories that relate to that time," he says. "The minutiae of what went down, no. But when you start peeling away the layers of the fraud and the duplicity, it's incredibly terrifying."

Ryan Gosling also starsRyan Gosling also stars

Bale agrees that it's difficult to understand what happened, partly because banks seem to make everything sound so complicated. "Most businesses do that, don't they? Certainly lawyers with legalese," he says. "Even if you don't really have an idea about quite what happened, but maybe you are a bit indignant about it but not sure why, it spells it out very nicely, but very entertainingly and with great wit."

Both actors found it fascinating to play such colourful real-life characters. Bale loved playing a person he could meet before filming started. "There's a great freedom to that because you've got evidence," he says. "People are just so fascinating - their mannerisms and contradictions."

Carell also met the man he was playing. "I read up on him," he says, "and we had breakfast. He said he had better hair. That was his one comment. He was very, very proud of his hair. He's a very charming guy, incredibly smart, but he speaks his mind. There's no fear to him. At all."

And Carell goes on to note that the film's lively comical tone came through the improvised style of filmmaking. "It was a different kind of improvisation," he says, comparing it to his work on The Office. "Here, no one was searching for a joke, for a laugh. It was all character and story based. That's where the information that we had to bone up on came into play. You have to be on point with this kind of improvisation!"

Not that it made the actors even remotely interested becoming more active in financial markets.
"God, no," says Bale.
"Not at all," echoes Carell. "My money's in a mattress. I sleep on it every night."

Watch the trailer for The Big Short here: