Richard Gere Arbitrage

Richard Gere Arbitrage


Arbitrage

Cast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling, Tim Roth, Nate Parker
Director: Nicholas Jarecki
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rated: MA
Running Time: 100 minutes

Synopsis: A taut and alluring suspense thriller about love, loyalty, and high finance, Arbitrage stars Golden Globe winner Richard Gere (Chicago), academy award® winner Susan Sarandon (Thelma and Louise) and academy award® nominee Tim Roth (Rob Roy).

On the eve of his 60th birthday, New York hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is the portrait of success in American business and family life. But behind the gilded walls of his mansion, Miller is in over his head, desperately trying to complete the sale of his trading empire to a major bank before the depths of his fraud are revealed. Struggling to conceal his duplicity from loyal wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) and brilliant daughter and heir-apparent Brooke (Brit Marling), Miller's also balancing an affair with French art-dealer Julie Côte (Laetitia Casta).

Just as he's about to unload his troubled empire, an unexpected bloody error forces him to juggle family, business, and crime with the aid of Jimmy Grant (Nate Parker), a face from Miller's past. One wrong turn ignites the suspicions of NYPD Detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth), who will stop at nothing in his pursuits. Running on borrowed time, Miller is forced to confront the limits of even his own moral duplicity. Will he make it out before the bubble bursts?

Release Date: 27th September, 2012


About the Production

Arbitrage, the feature directorial debut of writer Nicholas Jarecki, is a taut and alluring suspense thriller about love, loyalty, and high finance. When we first meet New York hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller (Richard Gere) on the eve of his 60th birthday, he appears the very portrait of success in American business and family life. But behind the gilded walls of his mansion, Miller is in over his head, desperately trying to complete the sale of his trading empire to a major bank before the depths of his fraud are revealed. Struggling to conceal his duplicity from loyal wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) and brilliant daughter and heir-apparent Brooke (Brit Marling), Miller's also balancing an affair with French art-dealer Julie Côte (Laetitia Casta). Just as he's about to unload his troubled empire, an unexpected bloody error forces him to juggle family, business, and crime with the aid of Jimmy Grant (Nate Parker), a face from Miller's past. One wrong turn ignites the suspicions of NYPD Detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth), who will stop at nothing in his pursuits. Running on borrowed time, Miller is forced to confront the limits of even his own moral duplicity. Will he make it out before the bubble bursts?

Arbitrage is written and directed by Nicholas Jarecki and stars Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Laetitia Casta and Nate Parker. Stuart Margolin, Chris Eigeman and Bruce Altman co-star and Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter appears as James Mayfield. Laura Bickford, Kevin Turen, Justin Nappi and Robert Salerno produced the project, with Brian Young, Mohammed Al Turki, Lisa Wilson, Stanislaw Tyczynski, Lauren Versel, Maria Teresa Areda and Ron Curtis serving as executive producers. The Arbitrage creative team includes director of photography Yorick Le Saux (I Am Love, Carlos), production designer Beth Mickle (Drive), editor Douglas Crise (Bavel) costume designer Joe Aulisi (Charlie's Angels, Taking Woodstock) and composer Cliff Martinez (Drive, Contagion).

The Genesis of Arbitrage
"Will you give up the power you love to hang on to your last shred of humanity?"


Graduating at age 19 from NYU Film School, Nicholas Jarecki began his career as an author with Breaking In: How 20 Film Directors Got Their Start, a bestseller that introduced him to the subject of his debut film, a documentary called The Outsider, in which he followed one of the legendary writer/directors from his book, James Toback. He then began to think about a subject for his feature film debut; a natural place to turn was the financial world. As a successful business owner and the son of two commodities traders, it was a world he knew well, a world which was in 2009 coming under intense public scrutiny. He began reading everything he could find about the ongoing financial crisis. Most intriguing to Nicholas Jarecki was The Great Hangover, a collection of essays from Vanity Fair which analysed the economic crash. "The book got into the personal lives of the players who were involved," says Nicholas Jarecki. "At the same time that I read these articles, my friend Kevin Turen called me and said 'we've been trying to make a movie for two years - you aren't the kind of guy who can wait, we need to go now- just write something!' We started discussing concepts we could make for no money and he said I should write a script set in one house where something goes terribly wrong. I said I hated those kinds of movies and he said stop procrastinating and just write something! So we started to work"

Nicholas Jarecki's began to think about the twenty-thousand square foot townhouses in his native New York City. "I thought about a man who lives in those mansions-what kind of guy is he? What does he do? Well if he lives in there, then I knew he had to be rich. And with money comes problems. What if he was once a good man, but as he grew richer, his life became more complicated and corrupt, since his money lets him live outside the boundaries of conventional morality. Now, who does he answer to when things go wrong and his world crashes around him (as it did for everyone in 2009)? And what will he do to protect himself and his family? That's how the character of Robert Miller was born."

Nicholas Jarecki grew up in New York surrounded by entrepreneurs and financial traders. "I am fascinated by business. I've had my own company so I have the technical knowledge, and I learned about markets from my parents," he explains.

The director's New York City upbringing also gave him a familiarity with the diverse residents of the town, economically high and low. At the same time that he conceived the character of Robert Miller, Nicholas Jarecki also created Jimmy Grant, a young black man who has a complicated history with Robert. Jimmy Grant became a central character in the film and serves as Miller's moral counterpoint and co-conspirator.

Writing the screenplay for Arbitage took Nicholas Jarecki nine months to complete and the project morphed from its original low-budget form into a thriller that would also delve deeply into the moral dilemmas facing a powerful and successful businessman. Producer Kevin Turen was intricately involved in the fine-tuning and research stage of the script's development. Together they would meet at Nicholas Jarecki's house and act scenes out, to get different ideas. "We'd invite friends by and start reciting lines, asking, 'What if Robert does this? Then what would he do next?' I know they thought I was nuts, but actually I had this great group of friends who listened to me and let me play with ideas. I loved that process."

Nicholas Jarecki 's passion for the material attracted a strong and diverse producing team. During the development phase, Bret Easton Ellis (who had written a couple scripts with Nicholas Jarecki) introduced him to Laura Bickford (Traffic), a producer with extensive experience who had worked with some of Nicholas Jarecki's favourite directors.

"I was very passionate about the script. I'm always looking for movies that are entertaining, but also take you into a world you may not have seen. Arbitage takes you on a great ride into a world that isn't often filmed that realistically," notes Laura Bickford.

"When I first met Laura Bickford I didn't know we would make a film together. But as the script got further along, I invited her to join us," says Nicholas Jarecki. "She brought a wealth of know-how about getting a film made and how to create a great team behind it."

Around Thanksgiving 2010, the filmmakers' April 2011 start date fell apart when they lost their entire financing. "We had two months to raise millions of dollars or watch the movie go up in smoke. Laura Bickford kept saying 'We have to keep going, it's a strong script and we will find the money, cast and team to bring it to life'. She had a certainty everything would work out and she was right," notes Nicholas Jarecki.

It was around this time that the team met Justin Nappi, a young producer who assembled significant capital in a matter of weeks. Justin Nappi loved the script and came on board immediately after meeting Nicholas Jarecki and Kevin Turen in Los Angeles. "We had a kinship from that first night and we have remained close friends," notes Justin Nappi. "The timeliness of the subject matter and authenticity of the world immediately drew me to the material," he continues. "Justin Nappi has a dedication to film -- he believed in the project and championed it from the start," Nicholas Jarecki says of the first-time producer.

The director was also looking for a producer to put the project together physically. Laura Bickford introduced him to New York filmmaker Bob Salerno (21 Grams, Single Man). Robert Salerno was familiar with Nicholas Jarecki 's work as a documentary filmmaker and was confident of his talent, but what most impressed him was his knowledge of the world he was portraying. "I thought it would be interesting for Nicholas Jarecki to tell this story because he has a special insight into the financial world and the characters who populate it. He's obsessed with conveying the fine details of their personality and the authenticity of the world they inhabit," says Robert Salerno.

In addition to telling a story of a man caught in an ever-tightening trap of his own making, Arbitrage is also a timely reflection of the hubristic mindset that has driven the world into its current economic crisis. "There's a deep sense of reality in these characters - the shady moves they're making and how they make them, and that comes from Nicholas Jarecki's research and commitment to portraying the truth as he knows it," explains Kevin Turen. Says Robert Salerno, "It's interesting for an audience to get a glimpse into how that world works and watch a man like Miller manipulate the system." Adds Justin Nappi, "I was attracted to the moral ambiguity of all characters in this movie. Rarely do you see that in movies these days."

Nicholas Jarecki's script attracted an outstanding cast led by Richard Gere. "Richard Gere is such a talented actor with an accomplished body of work and he comes to any project with substance and significance. In this role, he puts on the suit and immediately embodies this character, but as he told Nicholas Jarecki from their first meeting, he wanted to explore the dark side underneath that glossy exterior. He has the same focus, charisma, passion and drive as Miller, and we get a sense of who Robert is just by the way Richard Gere carries himself. And of course everybody knows" says Laura Bickford, "that Richard Gere has the best 'walk' in the business."

The film went into production a year to the day the script was completed. "It was an aggressive turnaround," admits Robert Salerno. "But Nicholas Jarecki is driven and he does not give up. He's relentless, but he is open and he listens -- he knows the parameters of what he has to do and from there he just plows forward."

Who is Robert Miller?
Richard Gere plays a charming, sophisticated billionaire. He's also a conflicted man, living outside conventional morality, who uses his wealth to make his own rules. He enjoys a graceful loving wife and a beautiful young mistress, he's good to his daughter and son, he's charitable, he's duplicitous -- he has everything he wants and more. "Miller wears his entitlement like he wears his suit -- easily, fitted, and well," notes Laura Bickford. "It's this sense of entitlement you get throughout the film - because he is such a great benefactor, he can do as he pleases."

For many years, Miller succeeds in every respect, building his family, his wealth and his empire. He then suddenly becomes a product of the market that crashed in 2008. He's a man on borrowed time because he's crossed over the limits of what's acceptable. He was trusted with people's money and chose to make irresponsible gambles with it. "Miller's world starts to fall apart and as the delusion fades, the reality enters, very much like what happened to most guys on 'the street'," adds Nicholas Jarecki.

"Miller isn't necessarily the guy who built the best mousetrap, but he's arguably the best salesman because he's so charming and a hard worker," says Nicholas Jarecki. "But there's also something a little nefarious about him. He's not a rough-and-tumble street youth; he's a guy who pulls himself up from his bootstraps, makes his own identity."

The director never wanted to paint Miller as a villain. "He's a complicated man and I think we are all complicated," he suggests. "We all lie and cheat at times and we all do great things and selfless things. I believe altruism exists and its part of our DNA because we do things for others. So I think Robert is human but severely flawed and the film looks at whether he will ever give up the power he loves so much to preserve that one shred of humanity."

Laura Bickford admits that this is one of the things she found appealing about the script. "Miller's a guy we find charming and we're sympathetic to the fact that his mistakes might ruin his life, so we're never quite sure who's side we are on in the telling of this story. It's a very realistic moral corruption that can happen to people instead of a caricature of good and bad."

Justin Turen notes that Miller's decisions aren't always conventionally moral "but he thinks that it is more important to do the pragmatic thing given his love for his family and the obligations and responsibilities he feels for those around him. A lot of characters in this film are doing the wrong things for the right reasons-at least they see it that way."

"He loves his wife and children," Nicholas Jarecki concurs. "And he also loves the thrill of having a mistress and living at the top of the world. The real question is does he love himself more? And I think in the beginning we expect that he does."

Casting Robert Miller
Richard Gere is an eminently watchable icon -- one of the most charming people on screen and the director acknowledges he couldn't have found a better fit for Robert. "Richard Gere brings a real dynamism to the role. He's such an attractive person physically and spiritually that even though his character is pretty dark and challenging you are with him and you understand his actions," says Nicholas Jarecki.

The director was first introduced to Richard Gere through his agent Andrew Finkelstein who was familiar with the project and was following its progress. Nicholas Jarecki was flattered that Richard Gere wanted to read the material. "He was an actor I always had in mind for the role. He really has the slickness, confidence and humanity to bring to that world -- to be that cipher, that double man."

When Richard Gere was told about the project, he reveals he was nervous about working with a first-time director. "The good news was my agent said it was a great script; the bad news was that it was with a first-time director. But when I read it and found it was a really terrific screenplay with a wonderful character, I became intrigued." Richard Gere also found the film's themes compelling. "It was this feeling I got from it about the ethics of our time -- what are the boundaries of acceptable behaviours? Not just in business or politics, but personally? So I was immediately engaged in the story and that was the entrance."

"Robert Miller is incredibly charming, almost like Bill Clinton, and that's part of the manipulation; the ability to control every situation and not because of one's power, but it's also force of personality, force of intelligence and with that the ability to read people in situations. He's got 400 plates in the air and he's trained his arms to juggle every one of them," continues Richard Gere.

The film's star also empathises with his character and understands where he comes from. "From one point of view what he does is highly illegal and immoral and from another point of view, it's quite creative maneuvering to get himself back on his feet and save his company and his family."

Nicholas Jarecki admits he was surprised when Richard Gere's agent came back within 48 hours to set up a meeting. They met at the Bedford Post Inn in upstate New York. "At the time I couldn't believe I was sitting in this remote place, about to meet Richard Gere, an actor I had loved since I was a kid at the movie theatre," recalls the director. "He was punctual to the minute, and once we began talking, before we knew it we were already running around the restaurant rehearsing."

The meeting took over three hours and during that time Richard Gere became more relaxed about working with him. "I discovered that Nicholas Jarecki's parents had been deeply involved in the world of commodities and hedge funds and how much he knows about the textures of money in this world and the lifestyles that go with it. He's kind of a street guy in a sense with an enormous amount of energy but there's also an emotional richness in what he's written."

"I remember we got to talking about Robert's mistress," Nicholas Jarecki recalls. "For both of us it was really important that this relationship worked. Richard Gere had an idea for one of the scenes between them and said 'let's stand up -- how about we do it like this?' We yelled at each other in character, then he grabbed my arm and pushed me up against the wall, staring deeply into my eyes. I said, 'I would kiss you right now.' The moment held a second, and then we burst into laughter. Right then I knew it was gonna work," he laughs. "Later I heard Richard Gere told me one of the producers that he thought I was a little crazy, but added, 'Hopefully it's the good crazy, the kind that will make our movie good so let's take a chance together.'" From that point forward, they remained constantly in touch reworking the film's story as Robert Miller came to life.

Casting the Women Around Robert Miller
One of the most important components of the film's casting was putting together the women around Miller: his wife Ellen, daughter Brooke, and mistress Julie. For Ellen, the role was always written for Susan Sarandon, "who possesses everything I want in a wife -- brilliance, beauty, and heart," says Nicholas Jarecki. "I also needed someone who could have shared humble beginnings with Robert and Susan Sarandon was able to play that perfectly."

"Susan Sarandon has a great depth and vulnerability as well as strength that she brings to everything she does," adds Richard Gere. "The part wouldn't work unless the audience feels her pain at having made certain decisions in her 30-year marriage. Both of these people have to face the reality that their choices took them where they are now."

Susan Sarandon was actually on board the project from the beginning and "stuck with it through the ups and downs when we were putting the film together," Nicholas Jarecki adds. "Her commitment to the project was incredible." Notes Susan Sarandon, "I'll always give somebody a shot who has a vision and enthusiasm for that vision and Nicholas Jarecki definitely had that."

It's not the first time that Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon have played husband and wife together and the two are great friends. "We are like two old hookers, Susan Sarandon and I," Richard Gere laughs. "We've known each other forever." The chemistry was very exciting for Nicholas Jarecki who watched them in rehearsals and immediately felt like they had been married for 30 years. "They had a fantastic dynamic," he recalls.

Susan Sarandon delivers a sly performance where the audience is never sure if she is complicit in her husband's fraud; whether she's naïve or turning a blind eye about his mistress and business dealings. "All of these questions come up as you watch her," says Laura Bickford. "She's brilliant at the nuances that keep you on your toes wondering what she's thinking and what's going on."

Susan Sarandon explains, "I think that Ellen is in love with her husband to a certain extent. Robert is charismatic and smart and kind of playful and obviously very charming, and I think they have been through a lot. They do love each other in a very comfortable kind of way but I think this last incident that he's involved in has the potential to push her over the line."

"Ellen loves her husband and is willing to stick with him through a lot. Susan portrays that resilience like nobody else," adds the director. "She's a conflicted character like all of the people in this film; everyone's got tough decisions to make!"

Many of the decisions Ellen has made have been to preserve her family, in particular her daughter Brooke. A lot of the film's tension comes from this character especially when she learns her father has betrayed her and their relationship begins to crumble.

The filmmakers needed a gifted actress who had life and vibrancy for the role. "I wanted her to be not only brilliant, but exceptionally beautiful so it was clear she had many choices, that she could have done anything," explains Nicholas Jarecki. "She is part of the empire because she believes in her father, their way of life and what they are doing. But she also had to be brilliant to be believable as a hedge-fund manager and because she has a great role in the story of unmasking the truth."

Nicholas Jarecki had been meeting with many actresses when Kevin Turen introduced him to Another Earth, the film Brit Marling had co-written, produced and starred in at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Nicholas Jarecki was impressed with her remarkable achievement. "I had so much respect for her that she had written and produced her own movie together with a group of friends, starred in that movie and taken it to Sundance and got it sold and out to the world. That's no easy feat," the director recalls. At the same time, Nicholas Jarecki discovered that Brit Marling had studied economics at Georgetown and worked as an investment analyst at Goldman Sachs before giving it all up to make movies. Says Nicholas Jarecki, "Apart from her talent and dedication, her true-life story really sealed the deal-she was Brooke!"

Richard Gere was also very taken by her performance. "She's just wonderful in it, very moving, very touching and very real. There's a really delicate quality to her that's not really actable that you can't make an actor do; they either have that quality or they don't and she definitely has it."

When Brit Marling first read the screenplay, she found it was a race to the end. "That's what a really great thriller does. It shows you a character right away that you are intrigued by and that's Robert Miller. He's very complex, not easy to understand and from the word go you are racing through this story wanting to find out what's going to happen to him." She also liked the story's slant that it was Robert's daughter and not his son who will take over the family business.

On their father/daughter relationship, Brit Marling explains that for Brooke, working with her father was her way of building a relationship with him. "She's naturally much better in this world than her brother so she and her father have formed a deep, close bond over work, which he doesn't even share with his wife."

Brit Marling and Nicholas Jarecki met for the first time on Skype. "She was terrific and came into it knowing the business world which very few actors would have been exposed to," the director points out. In turn, Brit Marling was incredibly excited about the project. "I loved the way Nicholas Jarecki saw the story, his passion and enthusiasm for making it. Within five minutes of talking, he asked me to come to New York and meet with him and Richard Gere. I left the following day."

From that very first meeting, Brit Marling felt lucky to be working with Richard Gere. "Richard Gere is always present so that if for a moment you are thrust outside of the illusion you are trying to create, you just look at him and he sucks you right back into the story."

Brit Marling compares watching Miller's world crumble to "watching a cashmere sweater pull apart thread by thread. It starts out that Robert has this really picturesque life: the jet, the beautiful home, the perfect family, then right away you're inside the rotting interior of that perfect red apple." At the same time she empathises with him and that's what she finds interesting. "He's not a bad person, but his morality unravels and when you start making compromises, after a short time you are suddenly really far off from the person you want to be."

Brit Marling describes her character as very fierce with a gentle side. "Brooke's ambitious and she's very smart, but she's also deeply romantic. The way she sees her father and the way she sees the world is under the veil of innocence and youth. She really wants to believe that her father is good and that everybody is doing the right thing and then of course that vision of things starts to crumble."

On her financial background, Brit Marling agrees this experience was really useful. "It definitely brought a lot to the table just understanding the way that world works, the obsession with markets, information, staying on top of things and predicting trends." However she still wanted to do additional research and also spent time following a woman who works at a hedge fund. "That was really amazing because hedge funds are primarily a male-dominated space. I wanted to see how she carried herself and operated in that world."

In the end Julie Côte, Robert's mistress, was the most difficult role to cast. "We needed an erotic charge and danger," explains Nicholas Jarecki. The filmmakers looked at close to 70 actresses for the part. "We wanted someone who had a real life and a job that you believe in so it's not a total tragedy that she's being supported by Robert," says Laura Bickford. "She also had to be the right age and the right blend of beauty and sensuality."

In the end, the suggestion of Laetitia Casta came from the film's cinematographer Yorick Le Saux, who alerted the director to the fact that Laetitia Casta had reinvented herself outside of the fashion world as a serious dramatic actress.

Nicholas Jarecki was already familiar with her work as a fashion model. "She's one of the great beauties of this world, but she's also emerged as a gifted actor, someone who's taken chances with real filmmakers like Tsai Ming-Liang and in movies like Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life in which she starred as Bridget Bardot. Laetitia Casta is someone that a man who has everything could really, irrationally, risk everything for. That's what we needed for this role to work."

"There's definitely something about Julie that represents a life-changing possibility," adds Richard Gere. "She's very real, not just a pretty girl or an affair so that the decision he makes that night leads to a disaster he has to deal with for the rest of the movie." This is fundamentally what attracted Laetitia Casta to the material. "I wasn't just playing a pretty lover. It was much more interesting than that so I was happy to take the role and also the chance of working with a first-time director in a foreign country."

Casting the Men Around Robert Miller
When Miller is brought under the suspicion of the NYPD, it's Detective Michael Bryer who relentlessly pursues him. Tim Roth is one of the director's favourite actors of all time. "Tim Roth performance as Mr. Orange in Reservoir Dogs made me want to make movies and I had to try not to talk too much about it," he laughs. "Tim Roth plays Robert's antagonist so I needed someone with the power, intelligence and viciousness that would make you believe he's a real threat to Robert. Tim brought those qualities in spades."

Tim Roth had just completed another season of Lie To Me and was ready for something different. "The idea of doing an American character again was appealing and it was very tidily and dryly written which I liked."

"Tim Roth brought a particular fury to the part and really made a lasting impression with his character, a cop pursuing justice who is also corrupt - because he's also flawed," explains Nicholas Jarecki. "I think that's what these characters share in common. Nobody's perfect and nobody gets away clean."

Detective Bryer knows Robert is guilty of his crimes but there's nothing he can do about it -- and his greatest fear is that Robert walks away free. "Bryer isn't impressed by his wealth -- he's pissed off by it. He thinks guys like Miller are crooks so it's just like dealing with a crook who's got the wherewithal to get away with it if he can buy his way out of a situation," the actor explains. "He's seen these rich guys get away with things and he's reached the point where he's not gonna let that happen again."

Nicholas Jarecki always had a very specific idea in mind for Jimmy Grant, something in his head he couldn't get past, to the point that the producers wondered if this person really existed. They looked at every young African American actor they could find, viewing around 60 tapes. In the end they met with ten people. "I kept thinking, its 3am in the morning, who can you call who you can trust?" says the director. "It's a very complex part. They know each other and have shared a past experience that has deep resonance and now they are very much in each other's lives again in a pressure cooker situation where Jimmy goes on the line for Robert. What kind of guy would do that in this terrible circumstance?"

Richard Gere's agent introduced Nicholas Jarecki to Nate Parker whose work he was already a fan of from The Secret Life of Bees and The Great Debaters. "Andrew rang me and said 'Nate's doing this.' I told him 'I love Nate, but I have so many ideas in my head right now.' But Andrew kept calling, each time in a low but forceful tone, simply repeating, 'Yeah, yeah, I know you have your process, but Nate's doing this' insisting he was the only man for the part. As soon as I actually met Nate, I realised that somehow without knowing it, I had written the script for him all along. You really believe in Jimmy and hope for him when you watch this character because you have faith in him and that's what Nate brings to the role. As Brit Marling once said to me, 'Nate radiates integrity.'"

What excited Nate Parker about the project was the screenplay and the way his character was written. "I read a lot of scripts with parts for African American men and only two out of 40 are actually representing us in a way that's positive." Nate Parker also felt very connected to Jimmy. "I grew up in Norfolk, Virginia in the Projects Tower Park with cement floors and perforated steel stairs so I know that environment. I know the difficulties you face every day just getting out of bed."

To prepare for his role, Nate Parker spent time with a kid from a program he works with in Brooklyn for underserved communities who reminded him of Jimmy. "We just talked and talked about Brooklyn and the streets -- what's going on here? What are the struggles of the lifestyle? He was as a really great help to get me there."

Richard Gere was impressed with Nate Parker's performance. "One of my earlier films was with Denzel Washington and I remember coming home one night and saying to my agent -- hey, I just worked with this terrific actor - Denzel Washington, who of course became one of our great leading men and I think Nate has that in him. He's his own person obviously but he's got that potential inside him. He's wonderful."

When Nate Parker first met Richard Gere he welcomed the young actor with a hug and said, "I'm so glad you are here," instantly putting him at ease. "For someone who's an up-and-coming actor, Richard Gere's a legend. He's been one of the best for decades and to have him receive me in that way instantly made me open up in rehearsals and gave me the confidence to talk to him about the scenes and how I felt."

The rehearsal process was one of the true luxuries of Arbitrage; that the director and actors were able to have nearly a full month's rehearsal before filming began. "Richard was the most committed partner I could have hoped for in a lead actor," notes Nicholas Jarecki. "He said to me early on, 'you know I like to be there from the time the first assistant's desk is rolled in.' True to his word he came to my apartment every day for a month and we met with every actor in the film." The actors gathered around Nicholas Jarecki's laptop rewriting scenes and dialogue, typing out pages and acting out scenes over and over faster than the new pages could come out of the printer, something they could never have achieved on set.

"Nicholas Jarecki really prepared himself more than any other director I have seen," Laura Bickford comments. "The rehearsal period cemented his relationship with the actors. It gave him a solid foundation for shooting and brought a whole other layer to this thriller."

As part of their research, Nicholas Jarecki, Brit Marling and Richard Gere toured the New York stock exchange and lunched with powerful corporate-raiders, meeting all sorts of traders and hedge fund operators. "What Richard Gere kept asking them was about their wives, their personal lives, not just business. Their support and honesty about who they were became a great asset." The cast and Nicholas Jarecki also continued to work through the Vanity Fair articles, underlining passages, making notes and discussing them in terms of the screenplay and their character's motives.

Nicholas Jarecki insisted on a fun and open environment for rehearsals. "We weren't trying to execute something I had already written. We were trying to discover things in the process, to explore themes and characters and make the dialogue better. That passion carried through to the set and once we got there we were free to take even more chances."

By the time the filmmakers were in production, they still hadn't cast the role of Mayfield, a name the audience keeps hearing throughout the movie. Says Nicholas Jarecki, "It's the Orson Welles part -- you're hearing about him the whole movie and then -- boom, in he comes. So I knew we needed someone truly powerful and believable." It was Laura Bickford's idea to cast Graydon Carter, the Editor-In-Chief of Vanity Fair and an old friend. "Graydon Carter is the one person I know who has been consistently writing and commissioning the best writing about the financial crisis. To cast him as the head of a bank in the forefront of Robert's crime seemed authentic -- no stunt casting!"

Although he always knew the role would be a great cameo opportunity, Nicholas Jarecki never could have predicted it would be Graydon Carter, "particularly because he's responsible for the incredible financial writing that inspired our movie," says Nicholas Jarecki. "The filmmakers had been looking for an actor who could bring bravado, credibility and power to that part and although he isn't a trained actor," the director insists, "Graydon Carter has the stature, grace, and intelligence to carry off that role."




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