As the debate over whether Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" condones the excessive behavior it depicts rages onward, star and producer Leonardo DiCaprio has offered up his take on the film.
"I think anyone who thinks that missed the boat entirely," DiCaprio told HitFix In Contention editor Kris Tapley when asked to comment on those who thought the film glorifies Wall Street overindulgence. The 39-year-old stars in "The Wolf of Wall Street" as Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who made millions through fraudulent business practices and served 22 months in prison for his crimes.
"The unique thing about Marty is that he doesn't judge his characters. And that was something that you don't quite understand while you're making the movie, but he allows the freedom of this almost hypnotic, drug-infused, wild ride that these characters go on," DiCaprio continued. "And he allows you, as an audience -- guilty or not -- to enjoy in that ride without judging who these people are. Because ultimately, he keeps saying this: 'Who am I to judge anybody?' I mean ultimately I think if anyone watches this movie, at the end of 'Wolf of Wall Street,' they're going to see that we're not at all condoning this behavior. In fact we're saying that this is something that is in our very culture and it needs to be looked at and it needs to be talked about. Because, to me, this attitude of what these characters represent in this film are ultimately everything that's wrong with the world we live in."
In a separate interview with Deadline.com, DiCaprio reiterated that stance, calling the film "a cautionary tale."
"Look, Marty and I, we don’t like these guys, let's put it that way. None of the people that made this movie likes these people, at all," DiCaprio said. The star had previously discussed working with the real-life Belfort to research the film, and also taped a 30-second endorsement for Belfort's current position as a motivational speaker. "We had a lot of conversations at the beginning about whether we could make them so unlikeable that people would completely not identify with them, or not care. Marty said to me, 'I've done many movies like this. I don't want to pass judgment on these people. I want to show them for what they are.'"
Speaking to Variety, DiCaprio said there might be a disconnect between some viewers and the film itself.
"This film may be misunderstood by some; I hope people understand we're not condoning this behavior, that we're indicting it," he told Variety awards editor Tim Gray. "[Belfort's 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."