Leonardo DiCaprio sums up ‘Wolf’ as ‘debauchery’
By Cindy Pearlman For Sun-Times Media January 3, 2014 2:44PM
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as infamous New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort in "The Wolf of Wall Street." | THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images
Updated: January 3, 2014 5:13PM
Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t so much in a wolf mood during a snowstorm in the Big Apple. Think of him more like a wounded cub. At age 39, the superstars limps into an interview in his suite at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel with his new wooden cane.
In a brown suit, blood red shirt and his hair slicked off his sculpted face, DiCaprio winces when you ask him what the other guy looks like.
“Oh, it’s nothing as exciting as you might hope the story would be,” says the good-natured actor with a wry smile. “I sprained my ankle tripping on a floorboard. It was one of those cases of doing a million things at the same time.”
What DiCaprio is mostly doing these days is talking about his new film “The Wolf of Wall Street” directed by his favorite helmer Martin Scorsese. In the film based on a true story, DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, a street hustler and stockbroker who lives the very high life until the feds start poking into his corrupt business.
Ask DiCaprio to sum up the film in one word and he doesn’t hesitate.
“Debauchery,” he says. “I’m playing a man where I had to detach myself from my own individual to be this character and do all the stuff that comes with it. There are no limits when it comes to this movie. Believe me when I tell you there were things in Jordan’s book that we didn’t even do in the movie.”
He is happy to talk about a now famous scene where a call girl places a lit candle in a certain part of his anatomy. “In terms of the candle thing,” DiCaprio begins, “it’s for a scene where Jordan’s wife is really mad at him. He’s denying what he did last night. He claims he doesn’t remember any of it. Then he finally says, ‘Oh, I remember now.’ We show a flashback with this candle scene of what he remembers and it’s rather extreme.”
It was DiCaprio who picked up “The Wolf of Wall Street” novel six years ago and brought it to Scorsese. “It was a fascinating read and I felt a reflection of everything that’s wrong in today’s society. It’s about this hedonistic indulgent lifestyle. This movie talks about a period in history where men like Jordan gave in to every carnal indulgence possible. This character for me is a man obsessed with greed and obsessed with himself. What helped me is the real Jordan was so unflinching in his account of this period. So honest.”
DiCaprio got financing for the film during the making of “Shutter Island” with Scorsese. But then the money fell apart.
“I was obsessed with Marty doing this film,” DiCaprio admits. “I wanted us to do a grand American epic of greed that pushed the envelope. I kept bringing this project back to Marty and saying, ‘Look, we don’t get an opportunity like this too often.’”
Why do audiences want to live vicariously through these modern bad guys?
“I think we like to see the darker side of human nature,” he says. “For me the story was also about somebody living in 2008 who was part of the destruction of our economy.
“Jordan and the men and women who worked with him weren’t the fat cats trying to destroy our economy. They were street urchins trying to emulate Gordon Gekko from ‘Wall Street.’ They wanted to be the guys robbing our country of billions of dollars.”
His crew in the film, including Jonah Hill as his right-hand man, did their work mostly high on Quaaludes. This brings DiCaprio to a scene in the film that will be certainly talked about for years. In a nutshell, he’s high on super Quaaludes, trying to drive home and can’t even walk to his car. He even rolls himself down a country club staircase as he’s so desperate to get back to his mansion and stop Hill’s character from making a phone call.
“Jonah and I in that scene were two schnooks who had taken way too many drugs,” he says. “I did have a few injuries from rolling around in that scene, but it was worth it. To prepare, I watched a You Tube video called ‘The Drunkest Man in the World.’ He’s rolling around the floor for hours.
“It was a huge inspiration,” he says with a laugh.
DiCaprio keeps smiling when asked if he would work with Scorsese again.
“I wonder what Marty is doing tomorrow,” he jokes.
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