Actor-producer Leonardo DiCaprio says he was eager to make the fact-based film "The Wolf of Wall Street" because it reflects "everything that's wrong in today's society."
Set in the decadent 1990s world of New York high finance, the movie is going into this weekend's Oscar ceremony with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director for Martin Scorsese, Best Actor for DiCaprio, Best Supporting Actor for Jonah Hill and Best Adapted Screenplay for Terence Winter. The film follows Jordan Belfort, a young Wall Street wizard who enjoys extraordinary wealth at the expense of his investors.
"About six years ago, I picked up this novel by Jordan Belfort, which was a fascinating read, simply because I felt like it was really a reflection of his biography," DiCaprio said in a recent Manhattan press conference. "It was a reflection of everything that's wrong in today's society. This hedonistic lifestyle, this time period in Wall Street's history where Jordan basically gave in to every carnal indulgence possible and was obsessed with greed and obsessed with himself, essentially. He was so unflinching in his account of this time period and so honest and so unapologetic in this biography, I was compelled to play this character for a long period of time."
The 39-year-old Los Angeles native -- who won a Golden Globe award for his performance in the movie -- said he and Martin Scorsese planned to make "Wolf" after their 2010 collaboration, "Shutter Island," but the financing fell apart.
"I was obsessed with having Marty direct this film," DiCaprio said. "Terry Winter wrote an incredible screenplay that I think was really catered to Marty's strengths and his style, and so it was a long waiting period to get this film financed and finally our friends here at Red Granite said: 'Look, we want to take a chance on this film. We want it to be a grand American epic of greed and pull no punches, push the envelope, and go the distance with it.' So, I re-approached it and brought it back to Marty and said: 'Look, we really don't get opportunities like this very often. These things really don't come out of the studio system.' And, thankfully, he agreed to do the film again and here we are."