Trading and finance have always been a subject of fascination for many people. Stories about Wall Street’s high-stakes dealings, huge investments, and incredible fortunes are some of the most popular themes in Hollywood movies. In fact, The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese’s highest-grossing film worldwide, which makes it a standout in his already-impressive filmography (Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, The Departed).
Ready to dive into memorable characters and thrilling plots? Here are the top five:
Jordan Belfort from The Wolf of Wall Street
Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, is based on a real-life person of the same name. Belfort rose to fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s as the founder of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont. The movie adaptation of his memoir has become an iconic film, which portrays wild parties, excessive spending, and over-the-top behavior.
It’s important to recognize that Belfort’s actions were wrong and harmful to many people. But somehow, the story has become a cultural touchstone, and Belfort himself became a larger-than-life figure.
Gordon Gekko from Wall Street
Gordon Gekko is the epitome of 1980s Wall Street culture, played by Michael Douglas. Gekko is a compelling character just because of his charisma and cunning but also his complexity. He’s not a one-dimensional villain but a multi-faceted person with strengths and weaknesses.
Another aspect of Gekko’s character that makes him particularly intriguing is his role as a mentor to the young and ambitious stockbroker Bud Fox. The dynamic between mentor and mentee adds an extra layer of complexity.
Bud Fox from Wall Street
If Gordon Gekko is the king of Wall Street, Bud Fox is his loyal protege. Fox, played by Charlie Sheen, is a young and ambitious stockbroker who dreams of making it big in the stock market. He’s just a regular guy with big dreams and a lot to prove, not a billionaire tycoon or a master manipulator.
Fox’s journey is about self-discovery and growth. He learns to navigate the murky waters of high finance and ultimately chooses his own path, which audiences find very compelling.
Louis Winthorpe III from Trading Places
Louis Winthorpe III (portrayed by Dan Aykroyd in the film) doesn’t start out at the bottom. In fact, his arc starts out at the very top and takes him on a wild ride.
Winthorpe’s story is a classic tale of redemption. He’s given a second chance, and together with a group of tricksters, they hatch a plan to take down the people who wronged him. The lesson people learn with him is that no matter how dire our circumstances may seem, it’s possible to overcome adversity and emerge stronger on the other side.
Will Emerson from Margin Call
As a senior trader at an investment bank, Will Emerson is responsible for making split-second decisions that can make or break the capital of his clients and his firm. On the one hand, he’s a ruthless and ambitious trader who’s willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. But on the other hand, he’s a man with a conscience.
Overall, this character, and a brilliant performance by Paul Bettany, is a reflection of the larger themes of the movie – dilemmas in the world of big finance.
The Wild, Brilliant Wolf of Wall Street, The New Yorker
Wall Street (1987 film), Wikipedia
My guilty pleasure: Trading Places, The Guardian
All That Glitters, The New Yorker