The action-hero wonder boy has left the past behind him and moved on from the late night car wrecks and Hollywood club hopping, choosing instead to focus on his career – and it’s paying off.
Shia gives an intense performance as a stock-possessed trader in the upcoming Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and says to prepare for the role he learned everything there is to know about the world of finance and stock training – something that’s become his favorite past-time. “I trade in my boxers now. I’m up early for the markets. I’m real-time all day long,” he tells GQ’s Adam Sachs. And it seems he’s pretty good, Shia says his online Schwab Active Trading account had grown to close to $450,000!
Shia says learning the ropes on the Wall Street trading floors was quite an eye-opener, "I thought my life was pretty wild. I'm Richie Rich. I land in New York, secretly thinking I'm like the coolest guy in the world. I've been on the cover of GQ! But then I met these guys, and it's humbling. It's the most sex-drugs-and-rock-'n'-roll atmosphere that exists on the planet. I was hanging out with some wild human beings."
And on getting past the stereotypes of Wall Street traders, "It's easy to villainize these guys with the big paychecks," he says. "But they're not all bad. I'm a pretty left-wing character, and I come from whatever collar is lower than blue. But meeting these guys really opened my mind a lot. I've never seen people with more drive and determination in my life."
Shia keeps pretty mum on the subject of his co-star and girlfriend Carey Milligan, "I never really had anything in my life that was off-limits," he says. "But with this, just out of respect, I just don't want to f**k around. She's an unbelievably thought-provoking actress, the most talented actress I've ever met in my life, by leaps and bounds. Neither one of us are fame whores. It works out. It's not like we're the premiere couple; we're not the red-carpet king and queen."
But he’s more talkative about his co-star Michael Douglas, Shia says, "Michael Douglas was an open wound on the set. That dude is in pain. He was emotional putty on the set. A struggling man. We filmed a struggling man."…Stone and Douglas wrestled all the time on-set, says Shia. "That is their process. They f***ing go at it like rams, all day long, every day. They know that they feed off each other in a way that they don't get with anybody else, but they hated each other."
On his widely publicized car crash, Shia says, “I’d be watching the news, and they’d play my car crash, and every once in a while Kim Kardashian’s sister would jump on TV and preach to me from the red carpet about how to live my f***ing life. And I’m so upset, man. I’m so angry. Because this accident was not caused by me. I got hit. I had a green. This f***er ran a red light. And he flipped my truck, and he shoveled it on my hand. And my fingers are in the street… They’re off, they’re under the truck door, man. This is fake, dude,’ he says, lifting his newly reconstructed hand. ‘This is hip bone and the skin that was left over.’”