“You must be sick of me by now — what the hell do you want to hear me say?” Leonardo DiCaprio laughed as we began a phone conversation late last week. He was joking, but it’s not an uncommon thing to hear an actor say that after they’ve been through the promotional ringer of an exhaustive awards season. He was in New York, where he had just participated in a retrospective of his work with Martin Scorsese (he did something similar the week before at the Santa Barbara Film Festival), and would be shortly heading to London for the BAFTA awards, where he was nominated for Best Actor (he lost to 12 Years A Slave‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor). But the fact is since early December and the first screenings of The Wolf Of Wall Street DiCaprio has been very visible — much more than the norm when he’s had a new movie to promote or an Oscar campaign to deal with.
But this one, for which he has already won a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Movie Award (both in comedy) is special to him. He not only stars in Wolf but also was a producer. He has received his fourth and fifth Oscar nominations as a result for the movie that is up for five Academy Awards including Best Picture and the fiercely competitive Best Actor category. He worked for six years to figure out a way to bring to the screen Jordan Belfort’s candid autobiography of his spectacular rise and fall on Wall Street. He wouldn’t give up until Martin Scorsese said yes to directing and until he was convinced they could make the movie their way. It became controversial but it also has now become Scorsese’s most successful movie ever.
DiCaprio previously did a detailed interview with my colleague Mike Fleming for Deadline, and he’s also encountered me a lot on the trail this season. But, with just two weeks to go until the Oscars, he’s still on that trail and very pleased — particularly for Scorsese’s box office milestone. “I am incredibly proud of that. I knew this movie would have to be framed in the right context for the public because, like I’ve said before, it’s punk rock, a major Hollywood epic about hedonism and debauchery and putting this culture up on screen. So I’ve been trying to support it as much as possible, in large part because I want to make movies that take chances like this. I want studios eventually to say ‘Hey, look at what Wolf Of Wall Street was able to do’. Maybe they’ll take a chance on this kind of material in the future even if it doesn’t fit the sort of criteria studios feel is bankable. I really hope if I bring something to a studio or want to develop it in a certain way they will use this as a reference point at the very least,” he said.