Leonardo DiCaprio Defends ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ Says It’s Groundbreaking
What would you do if given the chance to spend 30 minutes with Leonardo DiCaprio? Well, a few hundred fans in Hollywood got to do just that on Sunday and Celebuzz was in the audience taking notes.
And not only did Leo defend his latest movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, he also dove deep into the dirty details of film that has everyone talking.
Based on the memoir of corrupt stockbroker Jordan Belfort and directed by Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street can’t be described as anything but unapologetic. It’s three hours of unapologetic corporate greed, drugs, and sex. It’s also the only three hour movie that I would ever recommend anyone sit down to watch.
Oh, and, along with setting a record for the most f-bombs ever uttered in a non-documentary film, The Wolf of Wall Street may or may not be in this years race for Oscar gold.
Tonight though, the lucky fans inside Arclight Hollywood got to pick Leo’s brain a little. And here’s a recap of the best from the Q&A:
Leo really enjoyed working with the living, breathing Jordan Belfort to create his big screen alter ego.
“I originally got this novel, written by Jordan [Belfort], and he was so incredible candid and honest about his hedonistic time on Wall Street. And he pulled no punches. He wrote it, really, as a cautionary tale. He got way too wrapped up in that world, was obsessed with women, wealth, and drugs.”
“I spent many, many months with him. I would literally video tape him while he was imitating what it was like to be on ludes [quaaludes]. He was rolling around on the floor and slobbering, and I said, ‘go further. Tell me exactly what it was like.'”
“I would call him in between scenes asking about a set piece and what it was like. And often times he would say, ‘look, it was like that, but, to tell you the truth, it was a lot worse and I’m going to tell you why.”
“He was incredibly, incredibly helpful for me, as an actor. It’s one thing to be able to read about someone in history and try to put the pieces together, but to be able to talk to someone directly on the phone and try to get into their mindset was incredibly beneficial.”
And he defended Martin Scorsese and the movie’s ‘didactic’ ending.
“Marty was ferocious in saying, ‘look, I’m going to be unapologetic about who these people are and if there is a reaction, in a way, that, to me, that means it’s somewhat groundbreaking.’ It shakes the foundation of society in a weird way. I’m not saying this film is going to change the world, but it takes a lot of chances. There’s no films like this on the marketplace. There’s nothing like this. You will not see a major Hollywood epic with this kind of atrocity in it. It doesn’t exist, because it doesn’t get financed. I mean, it just doesn’t happen.”
“He [Jordan] spent the rest of his life trying to reverse all the atrocities that he committed during that time and he’s been, sort of, paying the price since then. But it definitely was a cautionary tale from the onset. But we, like I said, we wanted to portray this guy for what he was at this time.”
“Marty’s approach to this was really not to make this film have a didactic ending, not to teach a lesson here. It was a reflection of Jordan’s life. And Marty’s approach, in doing films like Goodfellas or any of these portrayals, is to portray them as honestly as he possibly can, to be unapologetic about their actions. And then we can some how, as an audience, insert ourselves into their mindset. And ultimately that’s why his films are so powerful. They’re about the darker nature of who we are. And we do learn something from these people.”
The first cut of the movie Leo saw was four hours long.
“I’ve seen, God, ten or twelve different version of this. And for him [Martin Scorsese], it was all about controlling the massive amount of improve that he had, because he and Thelma [Schoonmaker] put, sort of, everything and the kitchen sink into the first cut. And they slowly weeded it down and clipped two minutes out of one cut. Then we came back and there was another cut that had ten minutes out, and another that had twenty, another had three minutes out. But this is the directors cut, this is everything that Marty wanted in the film.”
And surprisingly, a majority of the ridiculousness you see in the movie actually happened.
“None of it is really made up. To tell you the truth, even the plane crashing on the way to get him, his boat sinking, every single one of these things happened to him. None of it is glorified whatsoever.”
Meanwhile, Jonah Hill was the only person on Earth fit to be Leo’s wingman.
“I met him in Mexico and he said to me, ‘look, I know who these guys are. I grew up in an atmosphere where these guys surrounding me. There’s no one on Earth that can play this character except for me. I said, ‘ok.’ And he said, ‘no, no, seriously, there’s no one in the world that should play this except for me.’ I said, ‘ok.” And I called Marty up and I said, ‘there’s somebody who really is passionate about this.’ And, you know, I think he wanted to read for Marty, and Marty had such a great time with him in the meeting that he said, ‘look, you’re hired, please don’t read for me at all. You’re perfect for this.'”
“His improvisation is amazing. I’ve never worked with a better improvisational actor than Jonah Hill. His ability to come up with amazing monologues on the spot was just a daily occurrence.”
And everyone wanted more screen time for Matthew McConaughey.
“I mean Matthew McConaughey, that unbelievable monologue. He was kind of like Dante, leading me into the inferno. He was introducing me to this chaos.”
“He was doing this as an acting exercise, he was beating his chest like an Indian to expand his voice. I said to Marty, ‘you should film him doing this.’ So he started filming and it expanded more, then it became a rap from the 80s.”
But the most memorable on-set moment for Leo involved some K-Y Jelly and a piece of lunch meat.
“That one day where I was doing CPR on Donny after I do the cocaine and see Popeye and try to save his life. I remember, we had built this entire rig to get that angle on me doing CPR. There were a hundred people around trying to perfect this shot, we set it all up. Then, you know, he’s got to spit up ham on my face, and that was a combination of ham and K-Y Jelly. And I asked the prop guys, I said, ‘how are you gonna get this ham on my face? How are you going to do it?’ So they tried to throw ham on my face and it wouldn’t stick. And we had to probably do about 70 takes. And their only suggestion was a plastic catering spoon with ham and K-Y Jelly, and the guy was under the rig just going [Leo’s making a flicking motion upwards] like this at my face. And it took about 70 times for that piece of godd**n ham to stick on my face. I wish that they had thought of something easier. I was about to pass out and die myself doing that sequence.”