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January 1, 2014

Leonardo DiCaprio On 'Wolf Of Wall Street'

I'm curious if you regard The Wolf of Wall Street as a personal milestone, in a way? I can’t remember a performance of yours -- or very many others ever -- that required this sort of character arc, physicality and just plain energy level. The movie… To tell you the truth, it was really the intoxication of being able to play somebody this reckless and having a director behind the camera that isn’t passing judgment on these people. I mean, I think that if anyone missed the point of this film-- Look, it is a cautionary tale. It is an indictment of this world. We don't like these people, you know what I mean? But we very consciously said, “Let’s insulate the audience in the mindset of what these people’s lives were like so we better understand something about the very culture that we live in." We very purposely didn’t do the traditional approach of cutting away to the people affected by this. To me, it was an intoxication of this insane ride, of this ship that just moves forward, and you don’t see the wake of their destruction. These people are obsessed with greed, wealth, hedonism, and consumption at all costs, and they don’t care about anyone except themselves. So to be able to do a film like that, with a director like Marty, knowing that he didn’t want to pass judgment on these people because he doesn’t like this world. He doesn’t like these people, but he’s fascinated by this world. He’s fascinated about what it is in human nature that makes us this destructive to others and ourselves. And that’s why this is almost like -- I keep referencing the modern day Roman Empire. It’s getting people to immerse themselves in that mindset for a few hours and seeing what that does to you on a psychological level. And as far as being able to play somebody like that, I mean, I had been thinking about this stuff for six years. I came to Marty and I said, “We’re never going to get the opportunity to do a movie that is this sort of radical ever again, I don’t think, and we’ve got to take this opportunity and run with it.” And when I finally got to do some of those speeches, you know, I felt like Jordan; I felt this feeling of being "on," like a cult leader, this guy that was pushing people out there to manipulate others and ultimately do what’s only right for them. And I understood this guy. You know, I understood this guy. Jordan was much different back then than he is today, but I understood his mindset. And that, ultimately, I think, is why we wanted to do this movie, because this is in the very fabric of our culture, this mindset, and it’s a very destructive one.

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