Leonardo DiCaprio covers the latest issue of NY Mag to promote The Wolf of Wall Street. This movie is the one where Leo dances and throws money to play his stockbroker character, Jordan Belfort, whose memoir forms the basis of the movie. The trailer gave off strong Goodfellas vibes, but in this piece Scorsese steps in and insists that he does not draw parallels between stockbrokers and the mafia. Scorsese sees Jordan merely as an old-fashioned scam artist who managed to skim about $100 million off the top end. The good times did not last.
Leo talks a lot in this interview about his process with Scorsese. These two are no ordinary actor-director combo. Leo has pretty much been Scorsese’s muse ever since Robert De Niro decided to stop making good movies (with the exception of Silver Linings Playbook last year). Here are some details from Leo himself on the debauchery in Wolf of Wall Street:
Leo talked Scorsese into Wolf: “I told Marty, ‘I don’t think we’ll be able to do a movie like this too many times in the futur.[ Larger-scale, R-rated dramas, like Blood Diamond or The Departed, don’t really get financed anymore."
The author wanted Scorsese too: "Marty directing was Jordan’s dream scenario, absolutely. When Marty couldn't do it the first time, I set it up with a few other directors, but I never felt comfortable pulling the trigger. I was fixated on him. There wasn't anybody else who could bring the rawness and toughness, the music, and particularly the humor required to convey the excitement of these young punks--these robber barons--taking on the Wall Street system."
On Leo's character: "The book personified America’s addiction to obtaining wealth at all costs, and that hasn’t changed. He was a small fish in a gigantic pond, and he'd motivate his guys by telling them they were heroes for taking on the big houses. Un-regulated Wall Street was like the Wild West. There was nothing Jordan wouldn’t divulge, no matter how intimate or embarrassing. That was the attraction for Marty as well--it's the kind of brutal honesty that got Marty into making movies like Mean Streets."
Leo and Scorsese are one: "Marty said to me early on, 'No matter the genre, no matter what kind of movie, people respond to the honesty in the characters.' We weren't interested in sentimentalizing Jordan. We aren’t painting a portrait of someone we want people to feel sorry for. Later in the film, when his life starts breaking apart, people are going to think he’s making the wrong decisions constantly. That’s not to say that people won’t be rooting for him, because he’s a likable guy."
Leo got to know Jordan: "I wanted a close relationship with him so that I could weave intimate details into the movie. Things that weren’t in the book. I was kind of the middleman between him and Marty, and I would bring pages of notes from my meetings with Jordan--things like this insane orgy on a 747 going to Vegas, chimpanzees in diapers that would skate through the Stratton offices, very intimate stuff about his relationships with women--and Marty was game to try everything. His approach was essentially to put everything onscreen and see what we responded to. It was old-school, really independent filmmaking on a larger scale."
Leo on dry-humping a stewardess for the movie: "It’s a modern-day Caligula. The height of debauchery."
Hmm. Is it just me, or does Leo’s horndog character sort of remind you of Leo himself? Leo has quite the reputation for debauchery and suppposedly bedded 7 women during Cannes this year. I’m just saying, there are similarities to be had. I’m guessing Scorsese may have picked up on this vibe too, but I’m sure he won’t tell on his muse.
Photos courtesy of NY Mag