To research his role in Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, Shia LaBeouf spent a good deal of time at John Thomas Financial, an Encino branch of Charles Schwab and Goldman Sachs. It was there he learned how to stick $20,000 in an online brokerage account and turn it into $450,00-ish in a matter of months, wow the shit out of Lloyd Blankfein in the 47th round of interviews, and insider tips for passing Level I of the CFA. You know what he never did? Ask any of the guys he was shadowing about their feelings. Same goes for Penn Badgely, who spent some time on the Citi trading floor to prep for his role as a junior analyst in Margin Call (where he learned that “young traders sport ‘nice clothes that were not terribly tailored’ and that that the term ‘bucks’ means millions”). That’s because these two whippersnappers only care about the surface. They’re not interested in drilling down to the person underneath that suit and the fifties still stuck to your ass from the weekend. One guy who is? Kevin Spacey. He cares, deeply.

“I am trying to humanize bankers,” said Kevin Spacey, the Academy Award-winning actor, who plays a senior trader in Margin Call. “Everyone talks about facts, figures and debt. I was more interested in what they were feeling.”

Some of his deepest insights, he said, came from conversations with senior Wall Street bankers and traders. During the discussions, he asked: “What was it like to be at a friend’s wedding, or a bar, when you knew that the whole house of cards was about to collapse?”

“I listened with some degree of surprise about the weight of having knowledge that others don’t, how that shifted relationships — what guys couldn’t even tell their wives at the height of the turmoil,” Mr. Spacey said. Many of the traders, he discovered, were angry about some decisions that helped assure the survival of their firm but also destroyed longstanding bonds of trust between them, their clients and their colleagues.

Some of Spacey’s empathy may come from the fact that he, too, knows what it’s like to destroy the trust of a client and colleague and lose, if not billions, thousands of dollars in one fell swoop. Of course, it’s not all feelings that’ll go into making this flick. It’s important that the actors truly know their trade, so if anyone thinks they can get Demi Moore up to speed (she accepted the role of chief risk officer right before shooting started, leaving “less time for extensive research), the help would be greatly appreciated.

Kevin Spacey Film Explores Humanity On Wall Street [NYT]

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Comments (46)

  1. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    Kevin Spacey is as queer as a 3$ bill…

    — The Gay Banker

  2. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    Mockery aside, I like that.

  3. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    Being a telepathic octopus is the new killing it
    -guy who thinks the MBS (Mussel Backed Security) is going to be the hottest financial product in 2014.

  4. Posted by guest | July 12, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    bankers, traders, same diff no diff.

  5. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    Hey Kev, you’re wasting your time, these guys are about as sensitive as a toilet seat.

  6. Posted by guest | July 12, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    2nd @5, “to humanize bankers” entirely the wrong approach.

  7. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    I thought Penn Badgley was a chick?

  8. Posted by american bandersnatch | July 12, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    it’s a cookbook!!!

  9. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    @1 You must mean a $1 or $5 bill.

    -AIG Quant

  10. Posted by HAM05 | July 12, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    Maybe you feel bad for this lamp? This is crazy; lamps don’t have feelings.

  11. Posted by WePrintMoney | July 12, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    Kevin Spacey should stick to being Kaiser Soze

  12. Posted by InfiniteGuest | July 12, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    @8 (american bandersnatch) I was thinking the same thing.

  13. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    Whenever I talked to senior Wall Street bankers and traders they always expected a blowjob later.

    –Chloe, FIT undegrad, Fashion meets Finance 2009

  14. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    My name is Lester Burnham. This is my house; this is my street; this is my life. I am 42 years old; in less than a year the housing bubble will burst. Of course I don’t know that yet, and in a way, I’m already dead.

  15. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    @11 whoa, whoa, whoa, are youz telling me that he actually WAS kaiser soze? that changes the whole way I look at that movie now. I thought it was Stevie Baldwin.
    – chris multisonti

  16. Posted by JerseyShorePatrol | July 12, 2010 at 1:08 PM


  17. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    God damn I am horny today.

  18. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    Sharing your feelings is the new killin it.

    -CFA Level I Candidate (Certified Feelings Announcer)

  19. Posted by lloyd, lloyd null and void | July 12, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    Spacey still doesn’t approach Shia’s douchiness

  20. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    He felt me alright. Right there.

  21. Posted by OptionsTrader | July 12, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    @17 SEC employee

    In other News what the fuck does Margin Calls have to do with what the movie is about – investment banking?

  22. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    @19 You have no idea.

    -Head of Craft Services, Disturbia

  23. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    @20 — show me on the doll.

  24. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 1:32 PM

    Ive said it before: The round of interviews commenter was absolutely g-damn hysterical, some of the best ive read

  25. Posted by Riley Escobar | July 12, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    Good work on the Glengarry Glen Ross quote.

    Always Be Closin’

  26. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    in Communist Russia, the…..just kidding, that on needs to be put to rest

  27. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    This movie is going to suck. It will be worse than a SCIFY network disaster movie. Who wants to watch these jerrrgovs talk on phones and cry over CNBC reports while bloomberging their buddies. Weak.

    I’ll bet a hundo that the ole “Punch out Dick Fuld on the Threadmill” makes the film…

    Hopefully, its Spacey punching out Demi Moore with his man-short.

  28. Posted by Mr. Market | July 12, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    @21 Margin calls have EVERYTHING to do with investment banking. When Citadel was getting margin called, how do you think they saved shop? Thats right, complete some major IB transactions to rev up the revenue jet engines

  29. Posted by OptionsTrader is a Fucking Weasel | July 12, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    I heard that the part of “OptionsTrader” was going to be played by Pedro Zamora from the Real World, San Francisco.

  30. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    @21 – It is obviously about an attempted leveraged buy-out of Associated Paper.

  31. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    i thought his movie swimming with sharks was about Wall Street

  32. Posted by OptionsTrader | July 12, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    @28 I guess, but investment banking isn’t primarily used to shore up the balance sheet due to losses in trading…The tradtional purpose of IB is to raise capital and complete M&A.

    Thus, why make a movie where the 24-hour issues occur in the IB office – why not on the trading floor? Or just rename the movie to ‘One Shitty Deal” if you want IB office scenarios.

    @29 I’m going to make a movie where dumb ass commentators continue to write nonsensical banter about my city in a childish attempt to undermine my stature as a business professional. I will have Glenn Beck play as you and Peewee Herman as the part of your abusive/sexual assaulting uncle.

  33. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    @32 FTW

  34. Posted by I'm a Dude | July 12, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    Hope he wears that sharp looking vest for the movie

  35. Posted by Sal Dominick | July 12, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    First of all, Spacey, you’re not gonna raise your voice to me. That’s first off. You cannot put me, you, or this firm in jeopardy by putting 100 million dollars in one idea. Right or wrong? You’re becoming a cowboy

  36. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    @32 Lighten up Nancy.

    – The guy who firmly believes Options Trader needs to be beaten with a pillowcase full of nickels

  37. Posted by SlayingIt | July 12, 2010 at 4:06 PM

    You see this watch? That watch costs more than you car. I made $970,000 last year. How much you make? You see pal, that’s who I am, and you’re nothing.

  38. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 4:17 PM

    Kevin Spacey’s vest is the new killing it

  39. Posted by Gozer | July 12, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    OT, you must be the coolest guy you’ve ever met

  40. Posted by Anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    Let’s push OptionsTrader to suicide like we did Kouwe

  41. Posted by anonymous | July 12, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    Will you go to lunch? Go to lunch. WILL you GO to LUNCH?

  42. Posted by tiger tim | August 9, 2010 at 3:33 AM

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    continues to BAULK any genuinely challenging,
    much less daring and revelatory, work in favor
    of pointless, routine, PC project work —like this.

    MEANWHILE, guilty of having made BILLIONS upon BILLIONS
    catering to the denial needs of history’s –MOST–
    awesomely genoicdal regime -bar none! ACROSS the Pacific
    -Hollywood AGAIN ‘mysteriously overlooked’ BOTH the
    20th anniversary of the Tiennamen Massacre AND the
    staggeringly relevant, eerily important 60th anniversary
    of the KOREAN WAR —this year.

    Are we begining to get the BIG picture?

    —It’s about time…

  43. Posted by Ocean_7uk | May 22, 2011 at 12:41 PM

     All traders are cunts!

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