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Trading on Twitter with Shia LaBeouf

May 15, 2010

There is something slightly surreal about talking with an up-and-comingShia Hollywood star about the intricacies of trading on Wall Street. In an interview with Shia LaBeouf for his role in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”, that’s exactly what happened.

The 23-year-old, most famous for the successful “Transformers” franchise, plays Jake Moore, an idealistic and successful financial trader who comes up against Michael Douglas’s ruthless Gordon Gekko and an equally formidable Bretton James (played by Josh Brolin) in Stone’s update of his 1987 hit “Wall Street”.

To research his role, LaBeouf met financial titans like George Soros and Warren Buffett, but also dealers just starting out in the cut-throat world of banking and investment, in order to be ready for the part.

“I think just out of necessity for the film and for my confidence, you know, just to be able to look Brolin in the eye and feel like I wasn’t going to melt, I had to feel like I was really trading and he was acting,” he said in the seaside cabins at the exclusive Hotel du Cap just outside Cannes. He quickly earned a reputation among other members of the cast for his knack with numbers after making quick profits on a reasonably small outlay as part of his training. Douglas said LaBeouf increased his initial investment 10-fold.

The actor himself was too modest to specify the amount he earned: ”I am not a financial genius by any means, I’m an actor who’s in the slot for 6 months. But the people I was surrounded by, because of the fact that they loved Douglas so much, and he is their Superman and I was their conduit to him, they weren’t going to let me down in terms of their picks. If you had a bad pick then you’re not meeting Superman, chief. That, coupled with the fact that when we started making the movie the financial markets were on a  straight shot to the heavens, it really didn’t let up until last Thursday … I was with a good group of people and my timing was amazing.”

LaBeouf voiced sympathy for regulators trying to rein in the excesses of some market players, who are being blamed for the severity of the recent economic crisis and wild stock market fluctuations. He said that four people at a hedge fund he visited “went down” for insider trading and using Twitter to conduct their business.

“The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) hadn’t caught on to Twitter, right? So you’ve got these young guys my age who are literally sending info through Myspace and Twitter and Facebook and the sheriffs are antiquated, they just can’t catch on to it, it’s a mile a minute. If it’s not there, it’s Youtube. It’s a lot to monitor on top of the market and everything else they’ve got to monitor.”

You get the feeling that if his Hollywood career fails, LaBeouf could always earn a crust in the dealing rooms.

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