'Arbitrage' star reaps dividends in career

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Brit Marling, star of the new DVD release "Arbitrage," graduated class valedictorian from Georgetown University with a bachelor's degree in economics. The global investment banking and securities firm Goldman Sachs was waiting with a job, which she declined.

Her decision to move to Los Angeles to invest in an acting career originally didn't add up because she was offered roles as the victim or the girlfriend. Instead of investing time in those parts, Ms. Marling wrote her own scripts and starred in the critically heralded "Another Earth" and "Sound of My Voice."

Teaching herself to write was a matter of reading scripts and books about screenwriting. It came down for her to seeing the "mathematics of it" -- where you take away what doesn't work and add what does.

It wasn't that "Arbitrage" -- a high-finance term that means taking advantage of price difference between two or more markets -- brought her two worlds together that made her want to be in the movie. It was the first bankable script she had seen since writing her two movies.

"It was one of those scripts where I was going to read 10 pages before going to bed and stayed awake two hours reading it. It's a really robust thriller that has a lot to say about where the world is. It's about the world of Wall Street and this family," Ms. Marling says.

The center of the family is New York hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller (Richard Gere) who has let both his financial and personal lives fall apart. He must scramble to keep both together, despite the suspicions of his heir-apparent daughter (Ms. Marling) and a rogue detective (Tim Roth).

The biggest assets of the film to Ms. Marling were the strong female characters. It's not often that such stories of stocks and family bonds feature a woman as the second in command.

"The story is ultimately an intense family drama that just happens to be unfolding on Wall Street. It's about how far you would go to protect your family, your father," Ms. Marling says.

One thing Ms. Marling has carried over from her economics classes is that insider information is not to be shared. There's a scene in "Arbitrage" where Mr. Gere whispers something to Ms. Marling. She laughs and says she won't reveal what he said until an interview 50 years from now.

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