The first was for “The Great Gatsby” (EURweb, May 9, 2013). Leo, a lover of Hip Hop, is always amenable and doesn’t seem to mind the grilling involved in the promotion of his movies.
In “The Wolf of Wall Street,” DiCaprio is the real life scurrilous character Jordan Belfort who bilked investors out of $110 million dollars and served only 22 months in federal prison. DiCaprio, along with co-stars, director Martin Scorsese, and writer Terence Winter were at the Mandarin hotel in Manhattan to discuss the movie.
I asked DiCaprio why these kinds of characters are so prevalent in Hollywood stories and become celebrities? Is it that we live in a depraved society?
LEONARDO DICAPRIO: Some of my favorite films of all time have been a reflection of the darker side of human nature. In a way, those films are an accurate portrayal of humanity, not all humanity, but a facet of who we are today. I wanted to do a film that to me was a depiction of what I felt like are the times that we live in. Jordan Belfort, to me, was somebody that not only was I obsessed with playing since 2008, watching the destruction of our economy. He’s not the problem, but he represents something within our very nature, and something within our society that is very wrong. You can point those attributes to literally everything that’s going on in our world today. It’s something I just felt compelled to play, and whether we’re making these people celebrities or not, or bringing too much attention to them, that’s all in the eye of the beholder in my opinion. I think it’s important to do films like this, ultimately.
[In talking with Belfort] he would divulge the most embarrassing things about his life because he looked at it as a part of his past. We’d start to have conversations where he’d veer off into, ‘Well, maybe we shouldn’t portray…’ I’d say, ‘Look, you wrote this book about this time period in your life, what happened behind the doors of Wall Street and the conversations that were going on in an unregulated marketplace, so let’s tell the truth.’ As soon as we had that conversation, he was like, ‘Alright, I’m an open book.’
MARTIN SCORSESE: In terms of negative people, Terry, what committee was[Bernie] Madoff on and what did he say?
TERENCE WINTER: He was the Chairman of the National Association of Securities Dealers who, when Jordan was arrested in the late 90s, came out and railed against him saying, ‘This guy’s the reason Wall Street has a black eye. People like Jordan Belfort should go to jail forever.’ This was Bernie Madoff [Laughs].
LD: Interestingly enough, not knowing a lot about the world of finance or Wall Street going into this, what I quickly realized is these weren’t the fat cats destroying our economy. These were the street urchins. These were the guys from the underworld that were trying to create a little island and emulate Gordon Gekko. They were trying to be the guys that were simultaneously robbing our country of billions and billions of dollars.
Is there some sort of honor among thieves with these parasites?
MS: I think there is a kind of mythology about the honor among thieves to a certain extent. ‘Goodfellas’ shows it—maybe not. I guess it’s more a primal level in the street. You promise something to somebody, you have a situation where it’s a matter of respecting each other. It’s different; it’s face to face. With these people, no one knows where the hand comes from. They’re doing it with the stroke of a pen. It’s more insidious, I think.
Kyle, you had an interesting on your face in the scene riding the train and watching the people. Did you at that point have second thoughts about your career choice?
A lot of people ask me that question and I’m glad it makes people wonder. However, I want people to walk away having formed their own opinion. I think that’s most interesting.
Leo, did you sustain any injuries from the funniest scene in the film that had the whole audience laughing hysterically?
LD: I did have injuries, if it’s worth anything. A lot of the impersonation came from me filming Jordan rolling around on the floor and telling me what Quaaludes were like. I also watched ‘The Drunkest Man in The World’ video that’s on YouTube.
When did the idea to do this film come to you?
LD: About six years ago, I picked up this novel by Jordan Belfort, which was a fascinating read simply because I felt like his biography was a reflection of everything that’s wrong in today’s society. This hedonistic lifestyle, this time period in Wall Street’s history where Jordan basically gave into every carnal indulgence possible and was obsessed with greed and obsessed with himself essentially. He was so unflinching in his account of this time period, so honest and so unapologetic in this biography. I was obsessed with having Marty direct this film. Terry Winter wrote an incredible screenplay that was really catered towards Marty’s strengths and his style.
Syndicated reporter Marie Moore covers film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]