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.”