Wall Street scams get personal in Richard Gere's "Arbitrage"

Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:07am EDT
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In the new film drama "Arbitrage," Richard Gere brings shady Wall Street dealings to the big screen as a hedge fund titan trying to cover up huge losses from a risky copper investment.

The scheming recalls real-life scandals and high-flying bankers who made headlines and brought populist scorn to Wall Street during the recent financial crisis. While the public may be hungry to watch the downfall of a greedy banker, Gere's character in the movie that opens in U.S. theaters on Friday isn't an all-around bad guy.

Fictional billionaire Robert Miller "is not an evil person," insists the 63-year-old star of "Pretty Woman" and "Chicago." But, Gere admits, the chief executive officer does "spend his life believing his own hubris" and, along the way, "makes very bad decisions."

Despite Miller's illegal misdeeds and immense wealth, audiences see a humanness they relate to, Gere said. "I've been delighted by how many people came up to me and said they felt bad because they identified with him so much and wanted him to get out of his problems," the actor told Reuters.

Writer and director Nicholas Jarecki, who grew up in the world of high finance as the son of two New York commodities traders, said the character of Miller sprung from the 2008 financial crisis.

"Guys were being so vilified at that moment," Jarecki said, and he wanted to explore how they made decisions within a system that tempts people with great rewards but bears immense risk. He describes "Arbitrage" as "the classic tragic tale of a good man gone wrong."


The charming and ever-confident Miller in "Arbitrage" basks in the spoils of his success - a fancy Manhattan home, beautiful wife (Susan Sarandon), loving children, young French mistress, and more money than a person needs.   Continued...

Cast member Richard Gere poses at the premiere of the film "Arbitrage" at the Eccles theatre during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 21, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni