Leonardo DiCaprio’s Corrupted American Dream


Friday, January 10, 2014

Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese swing for the fences in The Wolf of Wall Street. The pair’s fifth collaboration features more sex, drugs, and profanity than their previous efforts combined (it may even be a record-breaker in that regard). “We looked at this like the Roman Empire,” DiCaprio tells Kurt Andersen. “Short of virgin maidens feeding us grapes, we put everything we possibly could in this movie.”

While the film has taken some heat for glorifying the excesses that helped cause the market’s collapse, DiCaprio says the envelope-pushing is meant to expose the phenomenal greed and indulgence of Jordan Belfort and his cohorts — real-life stock brokers who made millions ripping off clueless investors in the 1980s and 90s. “Guys in Long Island trying to be the fat cats on Wall Street who were simultaneously destroying our economy,” DiCaprio describes the characters. “It represented something in our culture, this attitude of gaining wealth at any cost and feeding into every carnal desire you possibly can.”

The actor has become something of an expert in playing rapacious, villainous types — from the unforgivable slave-holder in Django Unchained to the reckless title character of The Great Gatsby. “With the Great Gatsby, and Django and this film, it was like a trilogy of corruption in America through different time periods,” he says. “It probably stems from having a poor upbringing in Los Angeles and being accepted into a school where I got to go see how the other half lived.” DiCaprio says he’s been fascinated with the pursuit of wealth ever since — even more so now that he belongs to the privileged set. “The films that have impacted me the most in my life — everything from East of Eden to Taxi Driver — are films with characters that are somewhat tortured,” he says. “That’s what affected me as a 15-year-old kid. That’s what moved me and made me want to do movies.”

“I think Marty’s films have always been about the pursuit of the American Dream, in a lot of ways, the corruption of that dream, and the hustle it takes to get there.”

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Leonardo DiCaprio

Produced by:

Sean Rameswaram

Comments [3]

Bob Braczyk

Generally , I love your show.
Occasionally,in my opinion, you stumble.
I would like to point out that in your interview with Leonardo DiCaprio, Mr. Anderson spent very,very little time on how The Wolf of Wall Street portrayed women.
I was listening along with my wife and two daughters. All of us had seen the movie and all of us felt you neglected any significant comment on the subject.

Bob Braczyk

Jan. 14 2014 04:41 PM

No wonder, Leonardo DiCaprio is that successful. he's really brilliant and handsome.

Jan. 13 2014 05:30 AM
Roger Choate from Houston, TX

Kurt, when you were commenting that Scorcese isn't known for making comedies, you mentioned 'The King of Comedy'. You overlooked a far funnier (and darker) film, 1985's 'After Hours', starring Griffin Dunne, Linda Fiorentino, Teri Garr, Roseanne Arquette, John Heard, Sylvia Sidney, Will Patton, Cheech AND Chong!

Jan. 12 2014 12:06 AM

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