Leonardo DiCaprio has frequently compared "The Wolf of Wall Street" to "a modern-day 'Caligula,'" but one of the Martin Scorsese film's highlights owes more to Jerry Lewis than the depraved Roman emperor.
Based on Jordan Belfort's scandalous memoir of sex, drugs and Wall Street chicanery, "The Wolf of Wall Street" is loaded with the type of scenes that keep members of the Motion Picture Association of American up at night: full-frontal female nudity, same-sex orgies, S&M, and enough narcotics use to make "Scarface" look like a family comedy. One such drug sequence finds the wolf of the film's title, Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio), and his best friend (Jonah Hill) taking an excessive amount of Quaaludes and suffering the consequences. For Belfort, that means an episode of near paralysis while away from his home, and the ensuing struggle that occurs as he tries to make it back.
"We wanted the film to be this hallucinogenic ride, this roller coaster," DiCaprio said during a press conference for "The Wolf of Wall Street" on Sunday in New York. "That scene specifically was almost like a day in the life of two schnooks who took way too many drugs. To me, it was almost like a small film within the film. We kind of treated it that way."
The scene, one of the funniest in the film, required DiCaprio to crawl, roll around on the floor and do everything but stand on his feet.
"A lot of it came from me filming Jordan talking to me about what Quaaludes are like. I had him rolling around on the floor for me. That was very helpful," DiCaprio said of his preparation for the sequence. "A lot of the research that I did really came from watching this one video on loop. It's called 'The Drunkest [Guy] in the World.' It's a man trying to get a beer, but his body doesn't quite [work]. That was a huge inspiration to me."
DiCaprio's techniques worked to Scorsese's liking: the director compared his lead actor's physical prowess to the aforementioned Lewis as well as Jacques Tati. Rob Reiner, who plays DiCaprio's onscreen father, agreed.
"I would put it up with the best comedy scenes I've ever seen in a movie in my life," he said about the set piece, before turning his attention to DiCaprio. "I was stunned at how physically great you are," Reiner said. "You're a great physical comedian."
"The Wolf of Wall Street" is out on Dec. 25.