LONDON (Reuters) - Director Oliver Stone turns his sights on the U.S. banking system later this year in the sequel to “Wall Street,” his examination of 1980s excess, with Michael Douglas reprising his Oscar-winning role as Gordon Gekko.
While in the 1987 film Stone cast the unscrupulous corporate raider Gekko as the bad guy, it is the big banks which are the villains of “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” to be unveiled at the Cannes film festival later this month.
“The original ‘87 movie was about these bandits (like Gekko) who came into the system,” the three-time Oscar winner told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“It wasn’t about the system itself, it did not question the banks. The investment banks were not playing the same role back then,” he added.
According to Stone, in the real world Gekko’s role was taken on by hedge fund managers and then by investment banks, something he opposes.
“Banks used to be boring, and there’s something to be said very strongly for keeping them that way,” said Stone, who has a reputation for tackling tough themes from the Vietnam war to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the 9/11 attacks.
He referred to the so-called “Volcker rule” proposal in the United States which aims to limit proprietary trading by banks.
“(This) is what our movie is a lot about, trading for themselves, for profits for themselves, and not for their clients. They (the banks) have lost their agentary function which was their original purpose,” said Stone.
While addressing serious issues, Stone stressed that Wall Street 2 was chiefly a piece of entertainment.
“I wouldn’t have headed into this thing unless I could have made it exciting,” he explained.
“I think one of the things I’ve been able to do over the years is take arcane subject matter ... and make it accessible and entertaining and the kind of movie where you want to know what happens next and which is suspenseful.”
Hitting theatres on September 24, the movie stars Shia LaBeouf as Jake Moore, a successful trader who is in a relationship with Winnie (Carey Mulligan), Gekko’s daughter.
Frank Langella plays Moore’s mentor whose investment bank is stuck with billions of dollars in toxic debt, and Josh Brolin portrays Bretton James, who seeks to take over the business for a fraction of its worth.
Gekko is out of jail, where he served time for securities fraud, and promoting his new book “Is Greed Good?” while at the same time seeking a rapprochement with his daughter.
Stone said he was not interested at first when he heard that Douglas and producer Edward Pressman were keen to return to Wall Street in 2006.
“I was lukewarm to the idea because I wasn’t that interested in the celebrity culture of wealth. There was a draft written and it didn’t work out for me.”
But after the financial crash of 2008, the project became more attractive, particularly with the sub-plot of Gekko’s relationship with his daughter thrown in.
Stone said he believed that the movie, from News Corp unit Twentieth Century Fox, would not have been made were it not for the success of the original Wall Street.
“It was still that name that drove it. It’s ironic to say that we created ... a sort of franchise, but it does help enormously around the world.”
Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato