Martin Scorsese on ‘Wolf of Wall Street’: ‘I Wanted to Make a Ferocious Film’

Director expresses frustration over 2008 financial collapse

Martin Scorsese Marrakech Film Festival
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Martin Scorsese says the 2008 collapse of the financial industry drove him to make “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

“The film came out of frustration over the unregulated financial world,” the director said at Saturday’s “Meet the Nominees” panel at the DGA Theater. “I kept saying that I wanted to make a ferocious film.”

The three-hour event included three of the other directors nominated for a DGA award — Steve McQueen for “12 Years a Slave,” Paul Greengrass for “Captain Phillips” and David O. Russell for “American Hustle.” Alfonso Cuaron, nommed for “Gravity,” did not attend but was expected to arrive from Italy in time for Saturday night’s awards ceremonies at the Century Plaza.

Scorsese gave credit to Matthew McConaughey for his improvisation in an early scene with Leonardo di Caprio on the sixth day of shooting, which wound up being expanded significantly beyond the original script. “We really took off after that,” he added.

As to the two orgy scenes in the film, Scorsese asserted that they are not rooted in erotic desires of the characters. “It’s all about power; they do it because they can.”

McQueen expressed admiration that the 71-year-old Scorsese has connected with young filmgoers such as his 15-year-old daughter. “Martin Scorsese is Kanye West; it’s kind of crazy,” he added.

The panel, moderated by Jeremy Kagan, covered such topics as the inspiration of music.

“Making films is three-dimensional music,” Greengrass said. “The film takes shape in your mind musically.”

“Filming and acting is an excuse for a waking dream,” Russell responded.

Russell spoke extensively about the abilities of his actors in “American Hustle” and their willingness to portray a wide variety of emotions.”No one can carry anguish, craziness and charm like Jennifer Lawrence,” he noted.

McQueen noted that the setting of his film near New Orleans provided him with spectacular scenery and a vivid contrast with the searing drama.

“‘The most horrific things happen in the most beautiful places,” he said of the hanging tree in the film.

Russell admitted that the day-to-day challenge is daunting. “It’s overwhelming; the movie beats your ass every day, then you land a few punches as the day goes on,” he added.

“I will get some coffee then I’ll get some more coffee,” Greengrass responded to a question on how he starts a day on the set