Kurt Andersen: This is Studio 360 I am Kurt Andersen, Leonardo DiCaprio is one of two actors today that can get pretty much any movie made. So what roles is he looking for? Mostly liars, criminals psychopaths, tortured souls. The latest film the Wolf of Wall Street a combination of all of those. Jordan Belfort was a stockbroker in the late 80's early 90's whose rip offs and financial crimes were matched by his personal living large depravity. And this just isn't another role for DiCaprio he played a big part in getting Wolf of Wall Street made even convincing Martin Scorsese to direct the film. His performance as the atrocious Jordan Belfort is being called the best of his career and he was up for a golden globe at this weeks awards. Leonardo DiCaprio welcome to Studio 360.
Leonardo DiCaprio: Thank you bud glad to be here.
Andersen: First off congratulations on the Golden Globes and the new time record for the F bombs in a motion picture.
DiCaprio: yes I heard we broke the record.
Andersen: Not bad for a ** movie about finance.
DiCaprio: With the term Wall Street in the title it is a dubious achievement.
Andersen: Now when people say when they have said this is the best performance he has ever given are you inclined to agree?
DiCaprio: Look I am incredible proud of the performance we had a much different approach going into this project then what we had in many of the others. I remember watching the King of Comedy early on and seeing this kind of organized chaos that Marty created with the actors where they improvised even before the film started and they sort of re improvized the improvised material. It was really a free form kind of film that you usually don't get to see made and coming from the Hollywood Studio system one of the reasons I wanted to do it for such a long period of time, it was a 6 yr process to get the film made.
Andersen: You mentioned King of Comedy one forgets that Martin Scorsese has made a comedy , weird dark comedy but nothing like this.
DiCaprio: Not to mention he originally considered Good Fellas a comedy as well.
Andersen: That's just him. I want to play a clip from Wolf of Wall Street in which you and some of your fellow executives are justifying exorbitant expenses to your father played by Rob Reiner who works with you at the brokerage firm.
Given that you guys were constantly improvising scenes these crazy bros eating and drinking, snorting and having sex leaving no temptation un indulged. At the end of the work day was it hard to go back to normality.
DiCaprio: I suppose we all took on a different attitude while making this movie. By no means did we go home and have orgies. It was an incredible free set. Everybody gave into every in carnal indulgence on set and we looked at this like the Roman Empire . We put everything we possibly could into this movie.
Andersen: So there are those crazy improvised drug scenes then there are these serious heart felt monologues you give to your staff. These people who believe in you work in your shady brokerage that's not like anything I have seen you do .
DiCaprio: Those speech were like Brave heart war cries for greed in a lot of ways for things that I was thinking about for years. Those are some of the most well written speeches I have ever come across and I have done tons of research on motivational speaking, I spoke to Jordan , I read up exactly how some of these communicate on Wall Street . It was interesting that I was thinking about them so much the day before I was supposed to do them my throat seized up with strep throat and I couldn't say any of it, it was almost like I had this actors block. It gave me another month to do research and it became this whole different animal.
Andersen: You started trying to get this movie made before the melt down and the recession happened. When the recession happened and the melt down happened did you go oh now I can get this made.
DiCaprio: no not necessarily. I think it is always a tough subject matter. This is a hard R lots of drugs, sex, profanity in the film. To me when I went into this role, not knowing much about finance and Wall Street, I thought these are the people responsible for the economic melt down and then I realized these guys are outsiders. These are the guys on long island trying to be the fat cats on Wall Street. It represented more in our very culture. This attitude of gaining wealth at any cost. We very purposely in this film made the decision , that's why there has been some controversy, we didn't want to show the wake of their destruction. In a film you want it to transported into somebody else's mind set that is what's so powerful about cinema as an art form. We wanted people to understand what motivates these people and how it can be an elusive enticing business.
Andersen: I think you hit on the interesting point why there is on this ongoing debate about do they glorify these people or not? I ended feeling nausiated by the amount of drugs these characters ingest . You say because you don't show there destruction that's why they say these guys are really bad and because it's a comedy as well.
DiCaprio: I think that ultimately Marty said this is incredibly funny but what we are talking about is not funny and I am not going to make a traditional movie that has a didactic ending where we explain to the audience the way they should feel. I want to throw them head first into this world and not judge these people. Cause ultimately they represent something about the world we live in and the darker nature of all of us. That is a timeless interesting approach to making a film. He said to me very early on I have done many films about disreputable characters as long as you donâ€™t apologize for their action and portray them an authentically as you possible can people will go along on that journey. I think all of Marty's films have been about the pursuit of the American Dream in a lot of ways and the corruption of that dream and the hustle that it takes to get there.
Andersen: Speaking about playing bad greedy ...I want to play a clip from Django Unchained... which a character, Calvin who you played is negotiating the sale of one of his slaves.
Between Django, Wolf of Wall Street and Great Gatsby which you filmed back to back you have really become a specialist of monster rich guys and I wonder how come?
DiCaprio: It's an interesting question with the Great Gatsby and Django and this film in a lot of ways was like a trilogy of corruption in American through different time periods. I guess it comes from having a poor upbringing in Los Angeles and being excepted into the University of Elementary school which was a school where they tried to integrate a lot of different kids together and I got to see how the other half lived. It's been a fascination with that world and how they got there. Stories of corruption in America to me they are fascinating to explore. It is surreal to me that the dollar is so powerful and destructful.
Andersen: You said to me you grew up not with a lot of money but your father was a underground comic artist that I read as a kid myself but know you are living how the other half lives. Do you have another view or have you taken that 12 yr old view into the posh Hollywood?
DiCaprio: Absolutely. I think it is a moral responsibility to give back truly I really do. To me I feel like I am living in a surreal fantasy world myself. I decided what I wanted to do at a young age and luckily I've gotten to be successful at it. To me without giving back trying to do something positive for your community or the world around you it really means nothing.
Andersen: You don't do this thing that other movie stars do which is do this one big blockbuster thing and then I will do the good movie . You do only movies that are difficult and complicated and dark and ambitious.
DiCaprio: I appreciate you saying that thank you but the truth is when I got my firs role in This Boyâ€™s Life I was 15 years old and I cam from TV . I realized I was working with someone of A+ caliber in Robert Deniro it lead me to watch movies every day of my life and at the age you get so overwhelmed of what has been done before you that for me I felt this strange feeling to try to do something that good in my lifetime. That becomes with that you are not satisfied and you try to achieve more. And in doing some of these movies are long endeavors and they take a lot of your energy and a lot of your thought and consume a lot of your life and my attitude has been the same since I was 15 and hasn't change. If you are going to invest your time in something try to swing for the fences. You may not always hit a home run.
Andersen: Are you moving on to a brighter side of the street in your next project?
DiCaprio: Maybe not.
Andersen: No you're going to stick with the greed and corruption?
DiCaprio: I don't know. To me the films that have impacted me most in my life from the Bicycle Thief to East of Eden to 2001 to Taxi Driver are films with characters at the lead tortured and that's just the way it is. That's kind of what I like and that is what effected me as a 15 yr old kid. That's what moved me and wanted me to do movies. So we'll see.