×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Leonardo DiCaprio Talks Corruption, ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Dance Moves at Variety Screening

Leonardo DiCaprio said it took him six years as an actor and producer to get “The Wolf of Wall Street” to the big screen. He spoke to a packed house of Academy voters on Tuesday night at a Variety screening series in New York’s Chelsea Bow Tie Cinemas.

“At the end of the day, this was a reaction to what we see in our culture,” DiCaprio said of the adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s memoirs about his years as a corrupt stockbroker. “It’s a timeless thing, the lust for wealth and money and power, but it’s done on such a massive scale nowadays, certainly after 2008.”

DiCaprio said that director Martin Scorsese was “constantly laughing” on set.

“The comedy came from the absurdity of it,” DiCaprio explained. “Some people have had a reaction to the humor in the film, because they think we’re glorifying the world. [Scorsese] said quite recently, ‘Why should I be polite in my filmmaking when these people were so impolite?’ We didn’t intend for this to be comedic. It came from the sheer audacity and absurdity of their life.”

He also addressed some of the criticisms that the film celebrates Belfort’s corrupt lifestyle that eventually led a 22-month-prison term for swindling $200 million from investors.

“There have been some reaction to why we don’t cut away to the victims and show the ramifications of their actions,” DiCaprio added. “And [Scorsese] said, ‘Look, I’m not here to make a didactic movie. I want to make a film that is reflective of who these people are.’ He has his own moral compass and feeling about who these people are, he doesn’t agree with the activity obviously, and it’s a cautionary tale.”

DiCaprio said that he worked closely with Belfort, who was released from federal prison in 2006, when preparing the role. “My relationship with Jordan from an actor’s perspective was great, because there’s nothing he wouldn’t tell me,” DiCaprio said. After Belfort saw the film in November, he told DiCaprio, “I’m ashamed to admit my favorite movie of all time happens to be about me.”

And DiCaprio said he’d also heard from one of his “Django Unchained” co-stars about his performance — specifically, his dance scenes.

“I ran into Jamie Foxx, who is a friend, he watched it with some female friends of his, and one of them turned to him and said, ‘Is Leo really doing that, or is that CGI?'” DiCaprio quipped.

DiCaprio, who has worked with Scorsese five times, said he grew up admiring the director. One of his early goals as an actor was to be in a Scorsese movie.

“As soon as I had the opportunity to really finance a movie based on my name, which was essentially after ‘Titanic,’ I pursued him,” DiCaprio said of 2002’s “Gangs of New York,” their first outing together. “I know the trust level has built over the years. [Scorsese] has taught me not only about being a better actor, but the history of cinema and the importance of cinema as an art form.”

The Wolf of Wall Street” has so far grossed $227 million worldwide.

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Renee Zellweger Rufus Wainwright Sam Smith

    Renée Zellweger: Judy Garland Was 'My Childhood Hero'

    Awards buzz is building around Renée Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland, emerging as a frontrunner in the Oscar race for best actress. But for her, the real prize was paying tribute to Garland, of whom she’s been a lifelong fan. “Nobody was prettier, nobody sang prettier…the adventures she had, [she was] my childhood [...]

  • Keke Palmer BlogHer19 Summit

    Keke Palmer Brought to Tears Accepting Truth Teller Award at #BlogHer19 Creators Summit

    Keke Palmer stood surprised and wide-mouthed on the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit stage as she was presented with the Truth Teller Award for her recent acting work — and her viral “sorry to this man” clip. “This means so much,” the multi-hyphenated star softly whispered as she got teary-eyed upon accepting the award. Last week, the [...]

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 19:

    Emmys 2019: Inside All the Hottest Pre-Parties

    It’s (Emmys) party time! Before the 71st annual Emmys go live on Sunday, stars and execs are keeping busy by party-hopping in the days leading up to the big show. Here, Variety gives you the inside details on who was where and what they were doing. Keep checking back right here throughout the weekend for [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez Green Dress

    Jennifer Lopez Closes Out Versace Show in Famous Green Grammys Dress

    Jennifer Lopez has found her way back into the Versace dress that broke the internet in 2000. The “Hustlers” star closed out Versace’s Spring 2020 show in a re-worked version of the revealing, bright green silk chiffon dress that she wore to the Grammy Awards 20 years ago. The dress quickly became a pop-culture phenomenon, [...]

  • 10 Storytellers to Watch

    Variety Celebrates Inaugural 10 Storytellers to Watch Event

    Storytellers from across the spectrum of entertainment — film, literature, podcasting and play writing — were honored Thursday at Variety’s inaugural 10 Storytellers to Watch luncheon at Gramercy Park Hotel, hosted with partner the Independent Filmmaker Project and presented by Audible. Honorees Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of “Friday Black”; “Limetown” podcasters Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie; [...]

  • Demi Moore Corporate Animals

    Demi Moore Teases Upcoming Memoir 'Inside Out,' Talks 'Corporate Animals' Team Bonding

    As Demi Moore gears up for the Sept. 24 release of her autobiography “Inside Out,” the actress says she feels like a weight has been lifted. “Even the stuff that I may have been nervous about is completely lifting…because it’s a process,” Moore told Variety at the premiere of her upcoming film “Corporate Animals” at [...]

  • Connie Britton BlogHer Summit

    Connie Britton on ‘Friday Night Lights’ Remake: ‘You Need to Let it Go’

    Connie Britton opened up at a fireside chat Wednesday at the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit in Brooklyn by talking about one of her most beloved roles — Tami Taylor in the fan favorite series “Friday Night Lights.” When asked if a remake of the sports cult film and Emmy-winning TV show is in the works she [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content