Arclight Cinerama Dome
January 5, 2014
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Q&A for The Wolf of Wall Street started Oscar® season with a bang. Hopefully, some in the sold-out crowd, including those holding up “We Love You Leo” signs, are voting Academy members.
A bearded DiCaprio, looking far more subdued than his Jordan Belfort character, answered thoughtfully, with candor. When asked about his special relationship with Martin Scorsese, he recalled being a young LA actor watching the director’s early films with Robert De Niro. “That’s all we did. When I think of a Scorsese relationship, it’s those two.”
No studio was willing to back The Wolf of Wall Street, he said, even with his box office appeal. It only happened because of a handshake deal made at the Golden Globes two years ago with private investors who believed in his work. Their attitude was, “We’re film buffs. We want to see different movies out there. We’re willing to roll the dice.”
He also talked about the similarly long gestation period for The Aviator (2004), the Howard Hughes biopic.As seen in The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belford’s excesses rival those of Howard Hughes. DiCaprio saw the mega broker Belfort as a Caligula-like figure. He plays him that way, an Armani-clad emperor presiding over astounding scenes of cinematic depravity. He described the set as “controlled chaos . . . an atmosphere where anything went.”
Jonah Hill sold himself to the project as “the only one who could play the role.” The naturally funny Hill adds comic relief but so does Di Caprio, himself. Coached by Belfort on how to behave while stoned out of his mind on Quaaludes®, the comedy nearly overshadows the drama.
Mark Hanna, played by Matthew McConaughey in a performance praised by DiCaprio, is the CEO of the brokerage firm the young Jordan goes to work for fresh out of college. “He was kind of like Dante bringing me into the inferno.” McConaughey’s chest-beating mantra began, said DiCaprio, as an acting exercise to loosen his voice up. It turned into a war chant that sets the tone of the movie and pays off in the over-the-top climax.