George Clooney is having an epically bad day. And it’s up to Julia Roberts to save him. That’s the deceptively simple set-up of the upcoming Jodie Foster-helmed financial thriller Money Monster.
As you can see in the exclusive first trailer above, the plot follows Clooney’s Lee Gates, an amped-up Wall Street wizard (think CNBC’s Jim Cramer) whose TV show gets hijacked by a disgruntled viewer, Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell). The man invested in one of Gates’s stock tips that turned out to be a big bust.
“This poor guy Kyle put the only amount of money he has in one stock and loses everything in nine minutes,” Foster tells Yahoo Movies. After suiting Lee in a bomb-laced vest at gunpoint, Kyle demands to find out what happened to his money. “It’s really hard to explain to somebody what happened to their money,” says Foster. “It takes an hour and a half of tense time to tell him what happened,” she adds, arguing that certain financial systems are complicated by design. “It is rigged for the elite who understand the system. It’s specifically intended that the casual stockholder does not have the benefit of the best choices.”
Julia Roberts in ‘Money Monster’
Through what Foster refers to as “the miracle of filmmaking,” Roberts — who plays Lee’s producer Patty Fenn — and Clooney filmed their parts at entirely different times. It was a much different scenario than prior films in which they’ve co-starred, including two Ocean’s movies and the 2002 thriller Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which Clooney also directed. “It’s a feat of magic on her part,” Foster says of the difficulty of Roberts’s role.
Filmed in New York City, the production required several street closures for shots in and around Wall Street. But the logistics of it, says Foster, were not the most challenging aspects of making the movie. “We had a thousand extras at one point, SWAT guys, a helicopter, a G5 [jet] landing! [But] the hardest part of the movie is the part that was shot in room that’s about four feet by 10 feet: the control room with Julia Roberts.” It’s where, Foster says, she filmed roughly three quarters of the movie, and where Roberts acted opposite no one. “She was staring at monitors that either had green on them or that had prerecorded material that she had to match her dialogue to.”
George Clooney and Jodie Foster on the set of ‘Money Monster’
As for the suicide vest-wear Clooney wore throughout filming, it didn’t present a huge hurdle. But, reveals Foster, he needed to put it on himself. “One of the things that’s interesting about George is he doesn’t really want anyone to touch him,” she says. “He doesn’t really want anybody to apply a microphone or button his shirt or tuck in his pants. He does his vest himself [laughs]. Nobody touches the vest.”
Other than that one quirk, Clooney was pretty casual on set. “One of the things I love about George is that he’s not vain,” says Foster. “He carries a backpack, wears sloppy jeans, and wears his Casamigos [the tequila company he runs with pal Rande Gerber] T-shirt everyday. He’s that guy who everyone loves because he’s just a guy who likes to play basketball and talk to the crew.”
Clooney in a scene from the film
If the trailer for Money Monster resembles such 1970s Sidney Lumet thrillers Network and Dog Day Afternoon, it wasn’t intentional, says Foster, although she considers herself fan. “He’s really the greatest — my favorite filmmaker. And yes, the circumstances are definitely the same.” Like the aforementioned Lumet films, Money Monster is set in virtual real time around a single event. “It has that tone of something that’s deadly real, yet, there’s a hint of satire in it,” she says. “Though we have a little less satire than Lumet in Network, for example.”
Foster, who has starred in other hostage-themed movies, including Panic Room and Inside Man, says she’s drawn to “the claustrophobia of characters that are stuck with each other in a really dire, dramatic situation.”
“It’s where your deepest, darkest shames evolve and play out in three acts,” explains Foster. “That’s something that’s very strong in the movie and that appealed to me: watching these two men, who you start out thinking that they’re one thing, and then you watch them change through the course of meeting each other and engaging with each other.”
This is Foster’s fourth time in the director’s chair on a feature film, but the Oscar-winning multi-hyphenate star tells Yahoo she plans to direct much more from here on out. "I don’t think I’m going to stop now,“ she says. "It’s a big priority for me.”
Money Monster opens in theaters nationwide May 13.
(Photos: Sony Pictures Entertainment/TriStar Pictures)