LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Oliver Stone returns to the Cannes Film Festival with “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” an update on a milieu he first explored in 1987.
Much has changed since “Wall Street,” and not just the brick-sized cell phones. Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko is out of prison, he has a new fresh-scrubbed protege in Shia LaBeouf, and America’s financial titans have blown out the Greed Is Good ethos so far that the Reagan years look like a Quaker lemonade stand.
Q. DID MICHAEL DOUGLAS TAKE ANY PERSUADING TO STEP BACK INTO THAT ROLE?
A. On the contrary, it was him and (producer) Ed Pressman who were leading the charge with Fox. If anything, I had some doubts.
Q. WAS THERE ANY WORRY THAT THINGS WERE MOVING SO FAST — AND THERE WAS A NEW WALL STREET SCANDAL EVERY WEEK — THAT THIS MOVIE WOULD SEEM DATED BY THE TIME IT CAME OUT?
A. Yes, absolutely. I did a lot of research, met with a lot of people, got some very good insights from people like (former New York state attorney general and governor) Eliot Spitzer — who is back in the news — but he was one of the earliest investigators of these cases. You remember, he was the guy who originally got the biggest settlement out of (insurer) AIG back in 2006.
Q. AND WHEN YOU WERE DOING THAT RESEARCH AND FILMING ON LOCATION DID YOU FIELD MUCH STATIC FROM PEOPLE WHO KNEW WHAT YOU WERE DOING?
A. The conservative banks would not deal with us, no. They would not let us in. Goldman sealed their floors to us. We did get pictures of the inside of it for production design reasons. They were very arrogant.
Our biggest break came when the Royal Bank of Canada called back, and they were extremely gracious, they said, “By all means, we’d love you to shoot here.” The Royal Bank of Canada was one of the few banks that behaved impeccably in this period and made a profit and continued on. And everyone applauded Canada’s behavior because they had different rules. Europe was going down, the whole world was affected. But here was the Royal Bank of Canada — unlike the Royal Bank of Scotland, which was a disaster — the Royal Bank of Canada was impeccable!
That was a wonderful break for us, because it was a classy looking bank and gave us the right feeling that we needed for Goldman — I don’t want to say Goldman, I want to say “from The Bank” in the film. Don’t pinpoint me.
Q. DO YOU EXPECT MUCH GRIEF? THIS SEEMS LIKE ANOTHER MEATBALL FOR OP-ED PAGES.
A. We didn’t set out to make this a tract.
Q. NO, BUT YOU AND THE MATERIAL COMBINED ARE A BIT OF A LIGHTNING ROD. YOU’VE GOTTA EXPECT SOME FLARE-UP.
A. Yeah. Yeah. But I’m not trying to ... you know, Michael Moore made a very strong documentary (“Capitalism: A Love Story”). But it’s not that at all. We’re really here to tell a story that would last through time like the original. I think we got our hands around a story: relationships between father and daughter and the new man in her life — there’s a triangle there. There’s an interesting story with Frank Langella and Josh Brolin. An interesting sidebar with Susan Sarandon. So, like the original, we based this on solid relationships, and in fact I think we developed some of these relationships to a more mature and deeper place than they were in 1987.
Q. HAVE YOU MOVED YOUR OWN MONEY OR INVESTMENTS AROUND BECAUSE OF THE BEHAVIOR OF THE LAST FEW YEARS?
A. Oh, yeah, like everyone else I took a hit in 2008, yeah. I couldn’t escape it because it was almost a comprehensive hit. I mean, the system is out of control. The solution has got to be regulation but there are other issues at stake. The nature of banking has changed. Banking when I did the film in 1987 was not this business it has become. It was boring. At least there were decent rates of return. Now there’s no interest rate, they’re just raking it in. This is a crazy system.
Q. DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE REVISITING WALL STREET IN ANOTHER 22 YEARS?
A. Why not? We left it open at the end in a way on which we can hang a “Wall Street 3.” We’ll have Gekko back and maybe Josh Brolin, too.