Nomad Magazine - January 2014
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Never Cry Wolf

Interview for 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

 

Nomad sits down for an exclusive with Leonardo DiCaprio to talk about The Wolf of Wall Street, his passion for environmental causes, and what he would have done with himself if the whole acting thing never panned out.

Nomad: The Wolf of Wall Street is coming out in December. Itís your fifth movie with Martin Scorsese as director. Are you his go-to guy now, like Robert De Niro used to be?

Leonardo DiCaprio: I couldnít ever think of that comparison, simply because to me that is the greatest cinematic relationship ever. Those were the movies that I grew up watching and was inspired by more than any other cinematic relationship, so I donít even try to bring that in as a factor. I donít try to compete with thatÖ I think that Taxi Driver Ė I mean, Iím a huge fan of Raging Bull, Goodfellas, many other films that they have done Ė but for some reason, Taxi Driver was the epitome of independent filmmaking. What they captured in that time period, especially with that screenplay, was one of the most intricately tortured portraits of a mental breakdown Iíve ever seen. It is Ďtheí independent movie.

Nomad: Youíre playing Jordan Belfort, who was convicted of stock market manipulation in the 1990s. How did you prepare for the role, and did you ever meet him in person?

DiCaprio: Oh yeah, I spent a lot of time with him. To me, itís a psychological portrait of a man that has an insatiable appetite for money, women, drugs, and absolutely no regard for anyone else except himself [laughs]. Itís a journey in that time period in the corporate world of Wall Street, which is the setting, but itís not necessarily about Wall Street, itís about a man who is just obsessed with consumption. [With] the times weíre in now, itís a very interesting subject to take on: how much can we really take for ourselves, and [what are] the ramifications of that? So ultimately, heís not the most sympathetic character in the world, but it [working on that movie] was one of the most entertaining, fun experiences Iíve ever had, specifically with Scorsese.

Nomad: Youíre known for spending a tremendous amount of time preparing for each character you play. Would you describe yourself as a method actor?

DiCaprio: I donít have a titleÖ I wouldnít say Iím a method actor, I would just say that I spent a lot of time on Wall Street, I spent a lot of time with Jordan, I had six months of rehearsals and research, and thatís what I think is necessary to portray a believable character. But I donít have a title for what I do.

Nomad: Whatís next for you?

DiCaprio: Iím in a very lucky position where I get to choose the types of films that I want to be a part of, and I never have to really question what Iím drawn to. For some reason, the last three movies that I did were all about money, greed and power [laughs], and the ascent and fall of those characters. I mean, Gatsby is a guy who created this vision of himself in the underworld, back in the 1920s, Django Unchained was about a plantation owner who was obsessed with power and money and owning slaves, which was the currency of that time, and now The Wolf of Wall Street has a very similar theme. I donít know whatís nextÖ I havenít worked for the last 10 months, and Iím now looking for the next film that Iím going to be drawn towards, and weíll see what that is. Iíve nothing on the horizon, so to speak, and Iíve been doing other stuff, like environmental work.

Nomad: Anything specific youíve achieved there?

DiCaprio: Well, we pulled off this very fabulous auction with Christieís. It was the biggest environmental fundraiser ever. Iíve reformatted my entire foundation, and weíre taking on some of the biggest environmental projects out there as a result of that funding. Weíre working on doing a slate of documentaries about environmental issues, and our big goal is to target the next climate change summit, to ask why our political representative and leaders have not made any significant changes... The environmental consensus is now in: we have contributed to climate change, itís no longer an argument. Now the question is, What are we going to do about it? Are we going to make any real tangible changes? I think thatís going to be the biggest challenge facing humanity in the future. Itís going to be a massive undertaking.

Nomad: Do you think you would have been this active with these kinds of causes if you werenít an actor, with the kind of empowerment that it gives you to do these things?

DiCaprio: If I wasnít an actor, I was going to become a marine biologist. I would probably have become an environmentalist in some capacity if I hadnít had the lucky opportunity of becoming an actor. But yeah, the fact that Iím an actor [allows me] to bring attention to those issues. Only 2% of philanthropy goes towards helping the environment Ė it is the most under-funded, under-publicized issue on our planet, and itís really a shame.

Nomad: But in the same way fame empowers you, does it ever hinder you? You must have to travel to do this environmental work, but is it tough when youíre recognized everywhere?

DiCaprio: I travel constantly; itís something that I love to do. It depends on the country whether I can get around freely, but I do it anyway, whether Iím recognized or not. I have to.

Nomad: There is a poster of you at the airport in Paris, clutching a TAG Heuer watch. That is a partnership youíve had for a while, isnít it?

DiCaprio: Yeah, Iíve been a collector of watches for a while now, and it wasnít until the partnership with TAG that I decided to align myself with a company like this. From the onset, we wanted to create a timepiece whose profits would go towards environmental issues, and thatís been a big source of pride for me. I want to be aligned with companies that show that kind of corporate responsibility. I went to Switzerland, and they reformatted their entire company to run on solar panels, lower their carbon footprint, and it seemed like the right alignment. Itís a great company. Theyíve produced a great product, and itís one of those relationships that Iím proud to be aligned with. There should be more companies like that.

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