Claudette Barius
Josh Rottenberg
September 11, 2009 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Informant!

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
108 minutes
Wide Release Date
09/18/09
performer
Melanie Lynskey, Matt Damon, Scott Bakula
director
Steven Soderbergh
distributor
Warner Bros.
author
Scott Z. Burns
genre
Comedy, Drama

We gave it a B

STARRING Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Melanie Lynskey
WRITTEN BY Scott Z. Burns
DIRECTED BY Steven Soderbergh

Kurt Eichenwald’s 2000 book, The Informant — a nonfiction account of an Archer Daniels Midland executive who helped the FBI expose a price-fixing scheme at the agribusiness giant — reads like a straight corporate thriller, but director Steven Soderbergh viewed the strange saga of Mark Whitacre, who developed superspy delusions while also secretly bilking ADM out of millions of dollars, as raw material for an absurdist twist on movies like The Insider. ”I started laughing incredulously at how this story kept turning,” he says. ”I thought, ‘How do you make this serious?”’ To cast the flawed, mentally unstable whistle-blower, Soderbergh called on Matt Damon, with whom he’d worked on the Ocean’s series. The role required Damon to pack on 30 pounds and sport a goofy mustache, but he was more than game. ”It takes a certain amount of security to do that, but for Matt it was a nice change,” Soderbergh says. ”I started eating like crazy and drinking dark beer. I definitely got doughy,” says Damon. ”Between meals on set, I’d eat a No. 1 Value Meal at McDonald’s and then Doritos on top of it. It was absolute heaven.”

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