Leonardo DiCaprio has defended his new film The Wolf of Wall Street.
The actor plays stockbroker Jordan Belfort in the Martin Scorsese-directed movie, a character who can be heard in the film’s trailer complaining he only made $49million the previous year – “three shy of one a week”. He said the film is not “condoning” the behaviour it portrays.
Speaking to Variety, he said: “I hope people understand we’re not condoning this behaviour, that we’re indicting it. The book was a cautionary tale, and if you sit through the film, you’ll realise what we’re saying about these people and this world, because it’s an intoxicating one.”
He also praised Scorsese for making films which are “vital and talked about, and have an element of controversy about them”, although not everyone sees it that way. Last month, Scorsese was reportedly heckled after an Academy screening of the film, with senior Oscar voters voicing their disapproval of its content.
According to some, one screenwriter present at a screening verbally attacked Scorsese at a Q&A after they’d seen the film. Some of the loudest criticism has come from Christina McDowell, the daughter of a real-life business associate of Belfort’s. She wrote an open letter to Scorsese in LA Weekly.
In particular, she accused the film of “exacerbating our national obsession with wealth and status and glorifying greed and psychopathic behaviour” and told how she was forced to change her name after learning her father, Tom Prousalis, had used her name to launder money before being jailed for financial fraud. The Wolf of Wall Street opens in the UK on January 17.