Brow Beat

Michael Shannon and Ramin Bahrani on Creating the Gordon Gekko of Real Estate

Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon in 99 Homes.

Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon in 99 Homes.

Still from 99 Homes

Check out all Slate’s interviews from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

In 99 Homes, the new thriller from acclaimed director Ramin Bahrani (Chop Shop, Man Push Cart, Goodbye Solo), Michael Shannon portrays a real estate shark who preys on the victims of the 2007 to 2009 housing crisis, including a construction worker (Andrew Garfield) and his mother (Laura Dern).

One of the sources Bahrani drew upon for Shannon’s character was Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko, the devilish creation with whom Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas meant to villainize greedy traders but unwittingly inspired a generation of new ones. All this week, Brow Beat is doing interviews from the Sundance Film Festival, and we asked Bahrani and Shannon how they created such a frightening and fully realized character without glamorizing him.

Interview booked by Raquel Bruno. Executive produced by Ayana Morali.