You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Scorsese Initially Wasn’t Interested in ‘Wolf of Wall Street,’ Then He Found an Angle

Martin Scorsese admits that initially he was reluctant to take on “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

“Terry (Winter, his longtime collaborator on “Boardwalk Empire”) was the big proponent of the project. But when he, Rick Yorn and Leo (DiCaprio) brought it to me, I wasn’t open to it right away,” he says. “I felt I had dealt with this territory, but not on this level.” Interviewed at the Bel-Air Hotel, Scorsese — whose mind and speech operate at warp speed — was eloquent and detailed when offering praise for his colleagues on “Wolf of Wall Street,” including editor Thelma Schoonmaker, scripter Terence Winter, d.p. Rodrigo Prieto and others, who he says helped bring together a movie he knew would require a different stylistic approach than films like “Goodfellas” and “Casino.”

“I wasn’t that interested in the mechanics of what he (Jordan Belfort) did, but I became interested in the hustler, the idea of a man who takes your trust and then betrays you. Who are they? Do they have any remorse? Do they have feelings? I’ve seen good men do bad things because they had no choice. And they numb it with drugs and sex and finally there’s no moral landscape. And I thought “OK, now there we can go.”

The director and Prieto wanted a softer, warmer feel for early scenes when Belfort is young and naive. Prieto used anamorphic lenses so there would be a slight curve to the walls of the rooms, with low ceilings. They worked with different lenses, shutter speeds, camera tracks and various lighting sources, even using Christmas lights for a disco scene. “It was all experimenting, really,” Scorsese says. “It looks simple but it wasn’t and (Prieto) was very specific about it.”

As for Schoonmaker, Scorsese says: “Her greatest strength comes in the mind, the philosophy that she has, about art, life, politics, history. Philosophically, we have to remain strong to the main themes and to the reason I made the movie. I worked out my own (editing) styles in my head, but she knows how to implement those styles. You always have to ask: What did I want to say here? She’s the only person I really trust that way. Loyalty and trust, that’s all there is.

“She doesn’t come to the set, which is a blessing, so she can be a clean slate, the objective voice. She also stays to the truth of the actors, which is priceless. And we like hanging out together! It’s tough in there (the editing room). We’ve gone through many lifetimes in those rooms.”

More Film

  • Oh Mercy

    Cannes Film Review: 'Oh Mercy'

    It takes more than just watching “Oh Mercy” to understand exactly why Arnaud Desplechin was drawn to the subject matter of his latest movie, a reasonably engrossing police procedural with roots in a 2008 TV documentary. Something of an unexpected detour in the veteran director’s weighty career, the film combines multiple strands to paint a [...]

  • Spielberg's Amblin Chief Jeff Small on

    Listen: Spielberg's Amblin Chief on Making 'Movies in the Middle'

    With the sequel “A Dog’s Journey” now in theaters, Amblin Partners continues to find ways to release the kind of films that aren’t typical of what dominates American multiplexes these days. An follow-up to the 2017 surprise hit “A Dog’s Purpose,” “Journey” is just another example of the cinematic strategy evident at Amblin, the production [...]

  • I Lost My Body

    French Animation 'I Lost My Body' Tops Cannes Critics' Week Winners

    “I Lost My Body,” a dark French animated film from writer-director Jérémy Clapin, has come up trumps in this year’s Critics’ Week program at the Cannes Film Festival, taking the strand’s top honor, the Nespresso Grand Prize. The film, which follows a young man’s severed hand as it struggles to be reunited with its own, [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Talent Agents Blast Verve Agreement With Writers Guild

    The lead negotiator for Hollywood’s talent agencies has again blasted the Writers Guild and its recent agreement with the Verve agency — and cautioned other agencies against following suit. Verve defected from the major agencies on May 16 when it became the first sizable Hollywood talent agency to sign the WGA’s Code of Conduct. That [...]

  • Forest Whitaker

    Netflix Teams With Forest Whitaker on 'Hello, Universe' Movie

    Netflix and Forest Whitaker are collaborating on live-action family movie “Hello, Universe,” based on the 2018 Newbery Award winner and New York Times bestselling novel by Erin Entrada Kelly. Playwright and screenwriter Michael Golamco (“Always Be My Maybe”) will adapt the book. Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi (“Fruitvale Station”) of Significant Productions will produce. The [...]

  • Lauren Ash44th Annual Gracie Awards, Show,

    Politics and New Abortion Ban Laws Dominate 2019 Gracie Awards

    Female empowerment was in the air Tuesday night as showrunners, writers and performers gathered at the 44th annual Gracie Awards to celebrate women breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings within the entertainment industry. Sandra Oh, Patricia Arquette, Rachel Maddow and Connie Britton were among the honorees at the ceremony, which took place at the Beverly [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content