The film is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.
In the Terence Winters screenplay, Leonardo DiCaprio plays the infamous Jordan Belfort. Matthew McConaughey has a small, but integral role as Belfort's (DiCaprio) Wall Street boss, who takes him under his wing and shows him the money making ropes. Jonah Hill plays Donnie Azoff, who hooks up with Belfort (DiCaprio) after witnessing Belfort's rapid success. The film is darkly humorous, insanely
The "Wolf of Wall Street" is Decaprio's fifth film under the direction of Martin Scorecese.
Leonardo DiCaprio Q&A at Hollywood. Sunday, January 5th at 3:05 PM. Moderated by Pete Hammond
Q: This movie is causing lots of controversy Leo, but I think you probably knew that going in. This is not an easy subject matter, its a fascinating story and it's all true which amazes me that one guy could have lived this life.. What attracted you to the idea of playing Jordan Belfort, and I know you have been with this project for several years?
I originally got this novel written by Jordan Belfort and he was so incredibly candid and honest about his hedonistic time on wall street and he pulled no punches. He wrote really as a cautionary tale. He got way to wrapped up in that world.
He was obsessed with women wealth and drugs that you saw (on the screen)just now. Marty's approach to this was not to make this film have a didactic ending, not to teach a lesson here. It was a reflection of Jordan's life. Marty's approach to doing Goodfellas or any of portrayals is to portray them as honestly as he possible can. To be unapologetic about their actions and then somehow as an audience insert ourselves into their mindset and ultimately that why his films are so powerful , they are about the darker nature of who we are.
When I picked up this novel, Jordan reflected in this time period, he was so candid with me it was amazing, and he was unapologetic about any of it. He spent the rest of his life trying to reverse all of the atrocities that he committed during that time and he's been paying the price since then. It definitely was a cautionary tale from the onset. We wanted to portray this for what he was during this time.
Q: How closely did you work with Jordan (Belford) once you started filming the movie? Did you go to his house? Did you work with him on trying to figure out how to play him?
Decaprio: I spent many, many months with him. I literally videotaped him while he was doing.. imitating what it was like to be on ludes (Quaaludes ). Rolling around on the floor an slobbering, while I was telling him go further tell me exactly what it was like. A lot of the times I would call him in between scenes...Marty wanted to have a different perspective for the film, he wanted to be objective.
Henry Hill in 'Goodfellas"-- he didn't communicate with Henry (Hill) -- and with Jordan (Belford) he wasn't directly in contact with him (Jordan)so in a lot of ways I was the middle man of giving and receiving information. I would call him in between scenes and ask him about a set piece what it was like, and often times he said look it was like that but to tell you the truth was a lot worse and I'm going to tell you why. And then I would talk with Marty and we changed the entire scene around. He was incredibly helpful, for me, as an actor. It's one thing to read be able to read about someone in history and try to put the pieces together , but to be able to talk to somebody directly on the phone and try to get into their mind set is incredibly beneficial.
Q: I just can not believe when I saw this movie the first time that's all this happened to this guy, that this is all true. I mean the boat, the plane coming down, all of this stuff, the helicopter crash, everything.
It all happened to him right? He didn't make this stuff up?
Decaprio: None of it is really made up. The only thing that is slightly embellished is that conversation on the phone. Because he did have a telephone conversation on the phone. He wanted to push it up a notch, "I'm naked on my yacht, with the hot chicks, the caviar and the lobster". But yes it's utterly true, the plane crashing, his boat sinking. Everything he said absolutely happened to him none of it is glorified whatsoever. We were toying with the idea at the end of this concept that Bernie Madoff, was actually some sort of system to take him down when he was supposed to go in to prison .
And wanted to use Jordan as some sort of example of what can go wrong when capitalism goes awry.
So Bernie Madoff was the head of that institution and was trying take Jordan to put that in the ending. We were trying to make it a little more timeline.