Press Conference Interview With The Cast, Director, Writer And Producers Of The Wolf Of Wall Street

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Martin Scorsese is no stranger to taking “lowlife scum” and making us want to go have a drink with them (Henry Hill/Frank Rosenthal), so we asked him if he sees a common thread in all three characters:

Martin Scorsese: They’re human beings and we are not all one thing, are we? We’re capable of many different things under different circumstances. My generation, I’m speaking for myself, I was never in a war situation, I don’t know what I would behave like. I know what I would do. It’s hard for me to judge the others and so I’m interested in people, some people who are basically good do bad things.

Rob Reiner has been more into directing these days, so we asked how he got involved in the project, and he also asked Kyle how he got involved as well:

Rob Reiner: I don’t know why I was approached. You have to ask Marty about that, but I can tell you that when Martin Scorsese calls to ask you to be in a movie, you just do it. You don’t ask questions. You just do it. He’s one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and when I got the chance, first of all I thought, he wants me to play Leonardo DiCaprio’s father so I thought, well, maybe I’m a lot more handsome than I think. I took it to mean that. But when you go into a situation, I mean, Marty and Leo have worked together on five movies I think now and so they have a shorthand. They’re like family to each other, you know? So it’s always interesting when you’re an actor coming into a situation like this, you don’t know. How are you gonna fit in? The thing that was such a pleasure for me is that Marty and Leo both make you feel right away at home. You never know as a director what other directors do, you know? Because you don’t get to see what they do.

Aside from the fact that [Marty] is one of the great filmmakers of all time and he knows how to use a camera better than anybody, he does the one thing that every director should always try to do, which is he sets a tone and he makes a playground where you can do your best work. The one thing I did take away from it is, and Marty’s done this so well – he did it in Raging Bull, he’s done it in Taxi Driver, he did it in Aviator, he’s done it many times – he will make the character the story. He is not in a traditional way, constructing stories with plot devices and things that go like that, and I do those!

Even though I do a lot of character driven movies, I’m kind of married to those kinds of things and what I learned is that he’s gutty. He’s out there on an edge and that’s a good thing because what he does is he lets the characters be the story and in the case of Jordan Belfort, he is the epitome of everything that was bad about deregulated Wall Street. If you’re gonna let the character be the story, you better set a tone that allows the actors to do the best work they can do and so we were allowed to improvise, we were allowed to find things because Marty knows that when an improvised moment comes out of a real situation, it’s gonna have more life and more going on than anything you can imagine and that’s how the character can become the story, so I watched him do that. It was a great, all-time experience for me.

Kyle Chandler: It was everything that [Rob Reiner] just said. I’ve been saying the same things in interviews – when you get a call from one of the people you look up to in the industry, well, two of the people, you don’t say no. The most exciting thing for me going into this was when we first met, me going, “Do I get to meet this guy?” For me that was the most joyous thing because, yes, you’re going to meet “the guy.” Then you get to go into the part with the real thing.

The most enjoyable thing, as an actor, was going in with people who do the creative atmosphere. I’m sitting at this table up here, but that first day of shooting on the boat, I was a little tense. I was only tense for about five minutes, because you make it so easy and you do create that atmosphere [to Martin Scorsese] and you were so wonderful because you set the tone – the lead actor on the set sets the tone [to Leonardo DiCaprio]. You gave that to the actors. The experience as a whole was absolutely incredible.

Rob Reiner: Plus, I got to say the “F” word in a Martin Scorsese picture, so that’s always a good thing.

We next asked Leonardo why he thinks audiences love these types of characters and make them celebrities, and if it has anything with us living in a depraved society:

Leonardo DiCaprio: Some of my favorite films of all time have been a reflection on the darker side of human nature. In a way, films are an accurate portrayal of humanity, not all humanity, but a facet of who we are today. I wanted to do a film that to me was a depiction of, what I felt like, are the times that we live in. Jordan Belfort to me was somebody that not only was obsessed with playing with, and since 2008, watching the destruction of our economy, he’s not the problem, but he represents something within our very nature, and something within our society that’s very wrong. You can point those attributes to literally everything that’s going on in our world today. It’s something I felt compelled to play, and whether we’re making these people celebrities or not, or bringing too much attention to them, that’s all in the eye of the beholder in my opinion. I think it’s important to do films like this, ultimately.