Logo for movie Gold on DStv

Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard

A movie with facts so strange, they could only be fiction, Gold is based on the 1990’s Bre-X mining scandal, which resulted in over $6 billion in fraud.

It’s 1993 and Mine Engineer John Federhoff (played as Kenny Welsh in the film by McConaughey) is down on his luck and in need of a big score. He experienced a vision which tells him to look for gold in Indonesia. He tracks down geologist Michael de Guzman (played as Michael Acosta in the film by Edgar Ramirez) and bankrolls an exploratory drill.

Initially, the mine struggles and fails to deliver any gold, leading to workers’ strike – and then, suddenly, Michael reveals that they are literally sitting on a gold mine.

Kenny returns to America to set up and office and with the smell of money in the air, he’s approached by a major Wall Street bank. He takes them to Indonesia they invest millions in the company, allowing Kenny to float it on the stock market and make an immediate killing – even turning down a $300 million offer for overall control.

The problem is: where did the gold suddenly come from after they’d been struggling for months? A cat and mouse game unfolds with Acosta and Welsh playing both sides and dodging the FBI as ever more serious questions arise.

McConaughey says its hard to believe that the pair almost pulled off the caper in real life. “The most surprising thing was that no one checked the validity of the gold. But I understand that phrase ‘buy the rumour, sell the news’. Agents can make something sound great and you’re on board. Before you know it, you’re going, ‘I’m in!’ “So I understand people that buy on the story. You’re made to feel if you don’t get in now, you’re going to miss out”.

It wasn’t only Wall Street investors who were blinded by the prospect – a multitude of investors fell prey to the duo’s plan. “I actually met a lot of people in Texas who had invested in the company and lost a lot of money. It was kind of touchy ground to be talking about it at all,” said McConaughey.

Director Stephen Gaghan says, “If you believe the news reports, the main characters in the movie are ostensibly dead. One of the things that drew me to this story is the duality of whether or not de Guzman lives or dies, and whether McConaughey’s character is a good guy or a bad guy. There was an account of de Guzman sitting in a cafe in Rome five years ago, happy as a clam, drinking coffee,” he laughs.

Edgar Ramirez, who plays the character loosely based on de Guzman says, “It’s not only Matthew McConaughey’s character we don’t know about, but there are a lot of other things we don’t know, including whether de Guzman was the mastermind of the operation or maybe just a player in it. We will never know.”