In 2001, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), having served his time for securities fraud, money laundering and racketeering, steps outside the gates of a Federal Correctional Facility a changed man. No longer the king of Wall Street, Gekko is unshaven, his hair unkempt. No one is there to meet him, not even his daughter Winnie, from whom he is estranged, nor any of his Wall Street colleagues, who have kept busy during his absence amassing ever-larger fortunes. After eight years inside, Gekko is now alone, and an outsider.
In 2008 Jake Moore (Shia LaBeouf), a smart young proprietary trader, is making millions at the venerable Keller Zabel Investments, run by Louis Zabel (Frank Langella), Jake's mentor. Jake's girlfriend, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), meanwhile, is supportive of his drive - fueled by an idealism she finds lacking in her father Gordon - to invest in green energy.
A wave of rumors that Keller Zabel is stuck with billions in toxic debt causes the company's stock price to suddenly nose-dive, and Louis Zabel is forced to fight for his company's life at a meeting of the Federal Reserve. When the government refuses a bail-out, Bretton James (Josh Brolin), a partner at the powerful investment bank, Churchill Schwartz, arranges a takeover of Keller Zabel for a fraction of its worth.
Now deeply in debt himself, his employment at risk, and suffering the loss of his mentor, Jake attends a lecture at Fordham University given by Gordon Gekko, who is promoting his new book, Is Greed Good? Gekko's speech describes how greed is no longer just good - it's legal - and how a malignancy in the financial system, with its rampant speculation and leveraged debt, will doom the U.S. economy.
Unbeknownst to Winnie, Jake seeks out Gekko and offers to help facilitate a rapprochement with his daughter, while Gekko offers Jake information as to why Louis Zabel was betrayed by his fellow bankers. An alliance is thus formed in order for Jake to avenge Keller Zabel's fall, and to help Gekko rebuild a relationship with Winnie. But has Gekko truly shed his reptilian skin?
WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS is a story of money at all costs, and the people who will do anything to gain entrée into that most exclusive club of great wealth and power. At the same time, it tells the story of a man's desperate attempts to reconnect with his daughter - a connection threatened by his equally determined efforts to re-gain admission into a world that has left him behind.
The triumvirate team from the first WALL STREET movie: director Oliver Stone, producer Edward R. Pressman and actor, Michael Douglas reunited 22 years later in New York City to film the sequel, WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS.
The film's director, three-time Academy Award winner Oliver Stone, is one of today's most honored and successful filmmakers. For Stone, returning to the world he captured so memorably in 1987's "Wall Street" was not only timely but an opportunity to explore something new. "I think this film is a hell of an entertaining tale and it's fun," he says. "I don't think I would have enjoyed working on WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS if it hadn't been a wholly original story. Twenty-two years later makes a huge difference. It was very fresh to me."
Michael Douglas is back in his Oscar-winning role as Gordon Gekko whose iconic "Greed is good" mantra and daring corporate raids made him a rock star of financial titans. Douglas' distinguished work as a motion picture actor and producer was recently recognized by the American Film Institute with its Life Achievement Award.
One of today's most popular young stars, Shia LaBeouf toplined the summer blockbuster "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Josh Brolin, a recent Academy Award nominee for his work in "Milk," portrays Bretton James, a ruthless Wall Street kingpin looking to mentor LaBeouf's Jake Moore character. Frank Langella, an Oscar nominee for his performance as Richard Nixon in "Frost/Nixon," is Louis Zabel, Jake's boss, whose ill fortune propels Jake on a journey of discovery; Carey Mulligan, who won acclaim and an Oscar nomination for her starring role in the independent drama "An Education," portrays Winnie Gekko, Gordon's estranged daughter and Jake's fiancée; and Susan Sarandon, Oscar winner for "Dead Man Walking" and a four-time nominee, is Jake's mother Sylvia, who seeks help from Jake when her real estate business is derailed.
The Edward R. Pressman Production is written by Allan Loeb and Stephen Schiff, based on characters created by Stanley Weiser & Oliver Stone.
After the success of Stone's Academy Award-winning film, "Platoon," a searing story about the Vietnam War, Oliver Stone chose as his next project a story about the battlefield of American business. Released in 1987, "Wall Street" was the story of Bud Fox, a young stockbroker played by Charlie Sheen, who, in his drive to succeed in the world of finance, becomes corrupted by a powerful and brilliant corporate raider, Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas.
"In making 'Wall Street,' I really wanted to see the war at home, so to speak, the war in the financial jungle of New York, which is my hometown," Stone says. In fact, Stone's father was a stockbroker in New York, so the filmmaker was already well acquainted with the Street when he directed the film.
Given Michael Douglas' iconic link to the character that Stone created with Stanley Weiser, his co-screenwriter on "Wall Street," it may come as a surprise that Douglas' casting as Gekko was unexpected. Stone explains: "Michael had never done a Gekko-type role at that time. He had played mostly romantic or comedic leads, and in 'Wall Street' he was interpreting a character that was frankly, downright nasty."
In 'Wall Street' Gekko gives a speech at a stockholders' meeting in which he extols greed as a positive force in American capitalism. "Greed - for lack of a better word - is good," proclaimed Gekko. "Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms--greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge--has marked the upward surge of mankind."
The speech is one of the memorable in film history and to this day, "Greed…is good" remains an oft-quoted line in the media's incessant coverage of the current financial crisis. Douglas's performance as Gordon Gekko earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor, while the character of Gekko has endured and become part of American culture and one of the cinema's great villains. Over two decades later - and after reprising Gekko for WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS - Douglas marvels at the character's continuing impact. "Of all the parts I've played, Gekko is the one people approach me about the most," he says. "They get a kick out of Gekko - which was always a surprise to me because he was a true villain!"
But then, reasons Douglas, "Wall Street is theater. People love stories about power; people are seduced by power. So I think that's a reason Gekko and the film 'Wall Street' have endured all these years."
"Gordon Gekko, through innumerable references in newspapers and magazine articles, has become an iconic character," says producer Edward Pressman, who produced "Wall Street," one of several films he would make with Oliver Stone. "'Wall Street' created the idea of the culture of that financial capital, so it actually affected the people who work there to behave and dress in a certain way."
Indeed, Gekko's charisma and take-no-prisoners approach to deal-making and wealth accumulation unexpectedly made him a hero to many. Not only did young men on Wall Street adopt Gekko's trademark slicked-back hair and suspenders, but they took his famous "Greed is good" mantra to heart.
"The film's popularity grew over the years," adds Stone, who was initially surprised by the way audiences embraced Gekko. "I made 'Wall Street' as a morality tale, and I think it was misunderstood by many. It's still amazing the number of people who came up to me over the years and said, 'I took on a career on Wall Street because of your movie.' Many of them are now in their 30s, 40s and were doing quite well on the Street -- as honest traders, I should add."
But even Stone couldn't envision the events that would make the Gordon Gekkos of the world look like small-timers - and ultimately lead to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. After completing "Wall Street," Stone went on to direct many more seminal films, such as "Born on the Fourth of July," "Natural Born Killers," "JFK," and most recently, "W," while the masters of finance became richer and richer. "What shocked me was this exponentially-growing accumulation of wealth kept going, into the 1990s and 2000s," says Stone. "The numbers grew and grew, so the millions of dollars became billions of dollars. And the greed of Gordon Gekko was swamped by the greed of the banks.
"By 2008, no more Gordon Gekkos were possible," he continues. "That character, that kind of buccaneer, was now gone, replaced by institutions that had once formerly been regulated. In the past, a bank was a bank, and an insurance company was an insurance company. In 2008, that all changed. The firewalls between these functions were destroyed by the deregulation of the 1980s and 90s."
As these real-life Wall Street developments unfolded, work began on a story and screenplay that would catch up with Gekko years after the events of "Wall Street." Stone was not involved in the film's development at that point, and it wasn't until early 2009, when he read screenwriter Allan Loeb's script for WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS that he considered tackling a new film about the characters and world he had brought to life with "Wall Street."
"Allan Loeb had experience in finance, and he took an approach which encapsulated the last year of Wall Street and the world economy," says producer Ed Pressman. "It was on the basis of that script that Oliver returned to the project because when he read Allan's draft he saw how relevant and exciting the film could be."
"The crash happened in 2008 and that made it suddenly very interesting, because you saw all the flaws in the system," explains Stone. "WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS is really a reckoning with what happened."
Adds Michael Douglas: "This is an even more interesting time to explore this world, than the period of the original 'Wall Street.' And Eric Kopeloff, who produced Stone's "W" and came aboard to produce WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS with Ed Pressman once Stone committed to the project, points out that, "If there was any time to reprise this, a story of Wall Street, now would be the time."
Allan Loeb, a licensed broker/dealer, and self-proclaimed "finance junkie," had been hired by Pressman to write on WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS in late 2008 (after award-winning critic and screenwriter Stephen Schiff had contributed several drafts), and thus did most of his research during the height of that year's economic meltdown. "I was meeting with big, big names of finance at the height of the crash," Loeb remembers. "A lot of these Wall Street guys were going through spiritual moments, so it was interesting to talk to them then."
For his research Loeb met with executives at hedge funds and major banks, and spent a lot of time with a former trader at one of the nation's largest firms. But what unnerved Loeb most was the prospect of pitching the story to "Gordon Gekko" himself - Michael Douglas. Douglas had expressed interest in reprising his award-wining role as Gekko, but only with the right story.
"I had this moment when I felt like [young "Wall Street" protagonist] Bud Fox because I was going to meet the great Gordon Gekko, if you will, and pitch him his own story," Loeb recalls. "It was a bit nerve-wracking to go pitch Michael Douglas, whom I'd never met and who's larger than life and is a wonderful actor."
Loeb's and Schiff's script for WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS not only illustrates what happened to the American economy in late 2008, but also tells a compelling dramatic story, in which Gekko is a changed man after years in prison and an even longer stint as an outsider on Wall Street. Impressed with the script, Douglas signed on.
The story begins when Gekko emerges from Federal prison in 2001, after serving eight years. While away, his wife has divorced him, his son has died, and his one remaining family member, his daughter Winnie, won't speak to him. She blames Gekko for the disintegration of their family. "As high-powered as Gekko was in the first picture, that's how low he starts in this one," says Michael Douglas.
"Gekko is humbled," says Loeb. "He lost his family, and just as important for Gordon, he went into prison as a player. He was a major player in a big game, and he was the guy. He may have gone into prison with, say, 50 million dollars, and he got out of prison in the early 2000's with nothing in a world that's changed. Gordon was out of the game and he was irrelevant. And that to him was the most humbling thing."
Gekko's imprisonment taught him many lessons, says Douglas. "He's had a lot of time to think. He can see much more clearly. He's bearish on what's been transpiring in the world of finance. Gekko is able to look at the problems objectively and he can see how screwed we are."
When Gekko is released from prison, he is determined to reestablish his position as a Wall Street power broker. But he's looking for more than re-accumulating vast sums of money; "Gekko wants to be acknowledged," Douglas explains. "It's one of the reasons he's written a book."
Gekko is equally resolute to win back the love of his daughter Winnie - to put together the family that he himself was responsible for tearing apart. The dichotomy of Gekko's ambitions versus his commitment to reconnecting with his daughter provides some of the film's most dramatic and emotional moments.
To attain both of these goals, Gekko joins forces with Jake Moore, who is engaged to Winnie. Jake personifies the brilliant technologically savvy individuals who by 2008 were making millions before they turned thirty. Gekko uses Jake to gain access to Winnie - and Jake seeks Gekko's advice in gaining the upper hand over Bretton James, a ruthless investment banker whom Jake holds responsible for his mentor and firm's destruction.
CASTING WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS
To play the role of Jake, Oliver Stone cast Shia LaBeouf, star of the hugely successful "Transformers" films, as well as the recent "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," and the thriller "Disturbia." "He reminds me of a young Tom Cruise [with whom Stone worked on "Born on the Fourth of July"]," says Stone of LaBeouf -- "The same drive, work ethic, and energy." Read more
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
On September 9, 2009 filming on WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS began in a TV studio in midtown Manhattan with scenes of "talking heads" on a financial news network, the only day in a twelve-week schedule when the picture would not be shooting on location in the New York City area. Executive producer Celia Costas, who had served as locations manager on "Wall Street," notes a marked difference between filming in the city in the 1980s and in 2009. "In the mid 1980s shooting a movie in New York was an unusual activity," she explains. "Every aspect was like reinventing the wheel. Shooting 'Wall Street's' lunch scene at 21 Club was challenging and shooting in the board room of what was then the A T & T Building on Madison Avenue was unprecedented."
While much of the original "Wall Street" was shot on location, the key set of the trading floor at Bud Fox's firm had to be built. "We got twenty-five thousand square feet of finished office space and essentially created our own trading facility in that space," Costas remembers. "No one would let you into a trading facility." Read more
OLIVER STONE (Director), born in New York, September 15, 1946, has directed "W." ('08), "World Trade Center" ('06), "Alexander" ('04), "Any Given Sunday" ('99), "U-Turn" ('97), "Nixon" ('95), "Natural Born Killers" ('94), "Heaven and Earth" ('93), "JFK" ('91), "The Doors" ('91), "Born On The Fourth Of July" ('89), "Talk Radio" ('88), "Wall Street" ('87), "Platoon" ('86), "Salvador" ('86), "The Hand" ('81) and "Seizure" ('73). He's written or co-written all of the above, with the exception of "U-Turn," "World Trade Center" and "W."
He's also written or co-written "Midnight Express" ('78), "Scarface" ('83), "Conan The Barbarian" ('82), "Year Of The Dragon" ('85), "Evita" ('96), and "8 Million Ways To Die" ('86).
Stone has directed four documentaries -- "Looking for Fidel" ('04), "Comandante" ('03), "Persona Non Grata" ('03) and "South of the Border" ('09), and the upcoming 10-part/10-hour Showtime documentary series, "Secret History of the United States" ('10).
He's produced or co-produced: "The People vs. Larry Flynt" ('96), "The Joy Luck Club" ('93), "Reversal of Fortune" ('90), "Savior" ('98), "Freeway" ('96), "South Central" ('98), "Zebrahead" ('92), "Blue Steel" ('90), and the ABC mini-series "Wild Palms" ('93). An Emmy was given to him and his co-producer for the HBO film "Indictment: The McMartin Trial," and he was nominated for the documentary "The Last Days of Kennedy and King."
Stone has won Oscars for directing "Born on the Fourth Of July" and "Platoon," and for writing "Midnight Express." He was nominated for director ("JFK") and co-writer ("Nixon"). He's also received three Golden Globes for directing ("Platoon," "Born On The Fourth Of July" and "JFK"), and one for writing ("Midnight Express").
Stone wrote a novel, published in 1997 by St. Martin's Press, entitled A Child's Night Dream, based on Stone's experiences as a young man. He is also a contributor of some 200 pages of essays on movies, culture, politics and history to the book "Oliver Stone's USA," edited by Robert Brent Toplin and published by the University Press of Kansas (2000).
Prior to his film career, Stone worked as a schoolteacher in Vietnam, a Merchant Marine sailor, taxi driver, messenger, production assistant and sales representative. He served in the U.S. Army Infantry in Vietnam in 1967-68. He was wounded twice and decorated with the Bronze Star for Valor. After returning from Vietnam he completed his undergraduate studies at New York University Film School in 1971.
ALLAN LOEB (Screenwriter) has quickly become one of the most prolific and sought-after writers in Hollywood. Loeb's first produced screenplay was the acclaimed "Things We Lost in the Fire," starring Halle Berry, Benicio del Toro and David Duchovny. Since then, Loeb wrote the hit film "21," starring Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, and Jim Sturgess, as well as the upcoming romantic comedy "The Baster," starring Jennifer Aniston, which Loeb also produced. For television, Loeb was creator, writer and producer on the critically acclaimed "New Amsterdam," as well as executive producer of "The Beast," starring Patrick Swayze. Loeb worked at the Chicago Board of Trade until 1992, when he gave it up to move to Los Angeles and write screenplays. Loeb took a screenwriting class at UCLA Extension and started writing script after script, selling his first project, "The Second Time Around," to DreamWorks in 1997. Loeb then spent several years in Hollywood as a struggling writer, earning Guild minimum for scripts that were all put into turnaround. He was thinking about leaving the business in 2004, but instead went to New York to write "The Only Living Boy in New York," which is currently in pre-production.
STEPHEN SCHIFF (Screenwriter) is a noted journalist and screenwriter. His screenplay credits include an adaptation of Vladimir Nabakov's novel Lolita, directed by Adrian Lyne, and released in 1995. Schiff then wrote or co-wrote the films "The Deep End of the Ocean," starring Michelle Pfeiffer, and "True Crime," starring and directed by Clint Eastwood.
Before turning his attentions to screenwriting, Schiff was a film critic at The Boston Phoenix, where his work was honored with a Pulitzer Prize nomination for criticism. Later, he was a critic-at-large at Vanity Fair, a staff writer at The New Yorker, a film critic on NPR's "Fresh Air," and a correspondent on CBS-TV's newsmagazine "West 57th." Schiff has profiled some of the world's best known novelists, artists and filmmakers, including V.S. Naipaul, Martin Scorsese, Steven Sondheim, Muriel Spark and Oliver Stone, and is now working on a biography of Norman Mailer, to be published by Henry Holt and Company.
THE ART OF SEQUELS