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Rogue Trader (1999)

The story of Nick Leeson (Ewan McGregor), an ambitious investment broker who singlehandedly bankrupted one of the oldest and most important banks in Britain.


James Dearden


James Dearden, Nick Leeson (autobiography) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
Ewan McGregor ... Nick Leeson
Anna Friel ... Lisa Leeson
Yves Beneyton Yves Beneyton ... Pierre Beaumarchais
Betsy Brantley Betsy Brantley ... Brenda Granger
Caroline Langrishe ... Ash Lewis
Nigel Lindsay ... Ron Baker
Tim McInnerny ... Tony Hawes
Irene Ng Irene Ng ... Bonnie Lee
Lee Ross ... Danny Argyropoulos
Simon Shepherd ... Peter Norris
John Standing ... Peter Baring
Pip Torrens ... Simon Jones
Tom Wu ... George Seow
Daniel York ... Henry Tan
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Danny Argyropoulos Danny Argyropoulos ... Trader #1


Ambitious, wide-eyed boy Nick Leeson (Ewan McGregor) is determined to rise in the world and be more than a simple bank clerk. When his employers, Barings Bank, offer him the opportunity to go to Jakarta, Indonesia to sort out a problem that nobody else wants, he seizes the opportunity with both hands. In Jakarta, he meets and marries Lisa (Anna Friel), and together they go to Singapore when the bank offers him the job of setting up their future options trading operation. To save money, the bank allows Nick to operate the floor trading and the back office facilities, and force him to employ cheap, unskilled staff. His first year of trading is a big success, and he makes large profits for the bank, even though he has illegally broken trading rules and secretly covered up losses. Given more freedom, even more money, and continuing unchecked, Nick starts to make losses, and again attempts to trade out of them, but this time he comes unstuck as his illegal trading generates even bigger ... Written by Mark Smith <msmith@osi.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He'll risk everything to beat the system! See more »


R | See all certifications »






Release Date:

25 June 1999 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Vild satsning See more »


Box Office


$12,800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£269,871 (United Kingdom), 27 June 1999, Limited Release
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


After David Frost interviewed Nick Leeson in prison, he realized the potential for this movie and optioned the rights to the story. See more »


When Nick is printing a letter for the auditor, the date says December 1994. He prints this on a Canon BJC-4550 printer, which had his first sale in 1996. See more »


Peter Baring: [getting off the phone] That was the Sultan of Brunei's office. They've decided not to proceed, they believe the risks are too great and the time too short in view of the need to have a rescue package in place by the time the markets open again in the Far East.
Simon Jones: Is there really no one else?
Peter Norris: We've tried everyone. It's hopeless.
Peter Baring: I therefore have to inform you that Barings is insolvent and will go into immediate liquidation.
[Peter Norris bursts into tears]
See more »


Featured in De wereld draait door: Episode #4.51 (2008) See more »


Release the Pressure
Written by Neil Barnes, Paul Daley
Performed by Leftfield
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User Reviews

It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion
14 July 1999 | by OzKSee all my reviews

I'll get a lot of argument on this, I suspect, but I tend to think that all history, biography and autobiography is in fact a kind of fiction. I also think that for all intents and purposes, it's not necessary to worry too much about how 'true' or 'accurate' this film is in regards to telling the 'real' story of the Baring's Bank collapse. Because at the end of the day, we'll never know. For every person involved or affected by that event there's another version of the truth, and finding the 'true' truth is just about impossible. So to hell with it! Let's just look at 'Rogue Trader' as a story, shall we?

I can't honestly say that I enjoyed this film, mainly because I found it so exquisitely awful that I was scrunching my eyes shut and moaning more and more loudly as events unfolded. As depicted here, Nick Leeson wasn't exactly a criminal, he was just criminally stupid ... and naive ... and pathetic ... and -- and -- well, I found myself screaming at the tv set "No, you fool, don't, stop now, stop now, quit while you're ahead --- arrrrggghhh!!!"

It is almost impossible to believe, that one person could collapse an entire bank. And of course, it is impossible. Nick Lesson didn't bring down Baring's on his own, he had a lot of help from people who both wittingly and unwittingly conspired to support his insane behaviour. Regardless of whose truth you're telling, that point is pretty safe to make, I think. And I think this film does a good job of demonstrating that. I also think it does a good job of capturing the insanity of Futures Trading (surely a hideously evil invention) and of showing how Gordon Gekko got it really, really wrong.

At the end of the day, however, the film stands or falls by Ewan McGregor's performace as Nick Leeson ... and again, he doesn't disappoint. Again, we are treated to a portrayal of a deeply human, deeply flawed individual, as only McGregor can reveal. His Leeson is a man who makes mistake after mistake, who is far smaller than he wants to be, who isn't without conscience or moral compass but whose many fears outweigh his few strengths. He's the very embodiment of the 'fatal flaw' theory, brought to ruin by his weaknesses and failings.

I find it frighteningly easy to identify with McGregor's Leeson. What he did, many of us have been tempted to do, or have done, in various small ways. Or maybe not so small. Some people find him profoundly offensive, others find him pathetic. Whatever your reaction to this film, the fact that you even have one shows that it's worked. It's made you feel something about what happened ... or at least, this version of what happened. Perhaps some of us resent being made to feel any kind of empathy for this character. By making him human, his actions are humanised, made comprehensible ... and that's uncomfortable.

It's far more comfortable keeping him demonised, reprehensible, beyond understanding or forgiveness, for in that way we keep ourselves safe. We are not like him. There is nothing that we share. He is ... other.

The problem is, he isn't. That's where Rogue Trader succeeds, I think. In showing us that the Nick Leesons of this world aren't monsters at all ... they're people, like us, who make mistakes, like we do. By challenging us ... you say you would never ever do something like this, but can you be sure? Really? Truly? This isn't a lighthearted film, a fun film. It's a fascinating character study and a timely reminder of that saying that goes something like ..

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