Spreading around the attention, the moderator then asked the attending producers to describe their experiences on the film:
Joey McFarland: First and foremost, Riza and I read the book around the time that it first started with Leo and we watched it collapse and our relationship with Leo was pretty strong through our investors and different circles, and he had always said it was one of the most compelling characters he had ever read and it was at the top of his list of projects that he wanted to see get made. So we dove in. We went and met with Jordan who at the time had taken the rights back from Warner Bros. because they had reverted. He was very hesitant about giving them up because the movie had died and had been on the shelf for so long, he wanted to be make sure that the next people who took it over were actually gonna see it through. So it was a very, very tough decision for him and it took a significant amount of meetings and a lot of trust, and it wasn’t about the purchase, it wasn’t about the money; it was about getting the project made and we assured him that as a new company that this was our springboard into what we saw our place in Hollywood.
It was a movie that we feel didn’t belong in a studio because of the way we hoped Marty and Leo would push the envelope. Little did we know how far they would push it, [laughs] but that’s a whole ‘nother story, but we love it, and so he took a chance on us, we took over the underlying rights and then circled back to Warner Bros. and got into the negotiations of the actual screenplay because it was living on the shelf in there and as everyone knows, it’s not easy to extract a script from a studio because I think the only thing worse than not making the film is watching someone else make a film and it go on to be extremely successful. But ultimately, they did not want to stand in the way of Leo and Marty, they valued their relationships, they blessed the project and we were off to the races.
Leo finally was able to introduce Riza and I to Marty, actually at the premiere of Hugo I think was the first meeting. We met you, you had took the time to give us a chance and, financing aside, these guys believed in us as much as we believed in them. It was a huge opportunity and we couldn’t be happier to have that opportunity. Riza and I, we’re successful in gaining the financing behind us, we have a team of investors overseas that value our taste in material and the belief in our ability to execute and really, we were off to the races. Once these guys said yes, it was one fast ride. They wasted no time, Leo was finishing Django Unchained at the time. I believe you came off three films, back to back to back, and this was a very, very challenging movie. I think we shot 87, 88 days and Leo probably shot 86 of them and of course Marty did as well. In New York, not easy. But luckily we had miss Emma here who was there just greasing the wheels along the way and making sure it was a flawless, smooth production and getting these guys everything they needed.
Emma Tillinger Koskoff: I have had the great privilege of working with Marty for many, many years and really, as soon as Riza and Joey, once it all came together and they said we’re off to the races, it was really where I kicked into high gear and helped put together an ace New York production team. The script was in flux, everyday we were met with new challenges that these guys didn’t bat an eye to, and it was a very challenging but fun experience and we all couldn’t have done it without them. Leo was amazing, Marty, everyone just got done and dirty and went for it.
Turning to the attending journalists, we first asked Martin Scorsese to comment on rumors of his retirement, and to comment on any cuts that had to be made to avoid an NC-17 rating, along with questions directed towards a cane Leo was using to get around that day:
Martin Scorsese: You’ll have to stop me yourself. You’ll have to just tackle me to stop me.
Leonardo DiCaprio: The cane is because I sprained my ankle on a floorboard. Nothing as exciting as maybe you hoped it would be. But yes, look, my attitude about doing this movie is we were trying to depict a modern day Caligula and all the debauchery that comes with it so you detach yourself from your own individuality for the accurate portrayal of a character. That’s what we do, so all the stuff that came with it, you know, it was a fun process because there was really no limits to what we could do because Jordan’s biography depicted stuff that we could have never imagined and Terry captured it all from the novel.
Martin Scorsese: There’s much more in there, of course. In terms of the candle thing, the idea is his wife is really mad at him, she’s very angry, and he’s denying even knowing where he was, what he was doing and so then we show you what he was doing, and he says, ‘Oh, yes!’ [Laughs] ‘Oh, yeah, no. I remember now!’ [Laughs] It’s rather extreme. That means he was really, really out of it in a way and it’s part of the humor of it in a way. It’s in the book.
As far as our trims with the MPAA, actually, it went rather smoothly, and as you know I’ve been dealing with that system since 1973, Mean Streets, where I had to cut a few lines of dialogue that are now used on regular newscasts and every other word in British newspapers. You know, it was 40 years ago, and so we just worked with them. It got a little difficult because of the time limit. I had to decide which frames, which scenes and I also had to finish the cut of the film and that became rather pressured in a way, but we finally worked it out. Nothing that I would feel in any way I missed.
Since The Wolf Of Wall Street is filled with drug use, especially on Leo’s part, we asked what’s really used during the scenes where Jordan is doing cocaine:
Leonardo DiCaprio: It’s baby vitamins.
Martin Scorsese: Yes, it helped them.
Leonardo DiCaprio: Vitamin B. It certainly burned our noses and we were energized for the day. [Laughs]