According to Leonardo DiCaprio, the star of Martin Scorsese’s holiday blockbuster The Wolf of Wall Street, the film is more than just a three-hour high of debauchery and depravity.
DiCaprio said in an interview with Variety that the film isn’t meant to glorify or glamorize the hedonistic lifestyle of Wall Street swindler Jordan Belfort, but condemn it. “This film may be misunderstood by some; I hope people understand we’re not condoning this behavior, that we’re indicting it. The book was a cautionary tale and if you sit through the end of the film, you’ll realize what we’re saying about these people and this world, because it’s an intoxicating one.”
The story of Belfort reads about the same as any of the other Wall Street schemers-turned billionaires (except in Belfort’s case, probably had way more Quaaludes and cocaine). In the film, he’s seen as a self-made man that made an obscene amount of money selling bum penny-stocks to unsuspecting investors. Belfort was eventually convicted of stock fraud and market manipulation and sentenced to something like 36 months in prison. Many fans criticized the film for portraying Belfort as some sort of twisted, addict protagonist, rather than focusing on the criminal that he was.
DiCaprio described why playing the role of Belfort appealed to him. “The severe honesty in which Jordan Belfort portrayed a hedonistic time in his life on Wall Street. It’s rare when someone is unafraid to divulge how dark they went. With all these people on Wall Street who’ve screwed over so many people since 2008, I became obsessed with playing a character who made me understand the mentality and nature of the seduction of Wall Street and greed. I appreciated his honesty.”
DiCaprio will most likely receive his fourth Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Belfort, while Wolf of Wall Street is expected to be nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture.