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If Leonardo DiCaprio wins his second-ever Golden Globe award this coming Sunday (he's been nominated nine times), he wants you to know it was on his terms.
"The Wolf of Wall Street" has been his passion project dating back to 2006 — when he was finishing up that other Martin Scorsese film, "The Departed" — the 39-year-old actor told a roomful of moviegoers at the ArcLight Hollywood on Sunday evening as his father and stepmother looked on from the first row.
DiCaprio plays stockbroker and crook Jordan Belfort in "Wolf." And, as of late, he has been responding to controversy about the film's portrayal of unapologetic hedonism and greed. But he assured the crowd it's "a cautionary tale… like a modern day Caligula — the fall of the Roman Empire." DiCaprio also pointed out that "Wolf"'s final shot — which pans to scan an audience of eager Belfort wannabes during one of his post-prison motivational speeches — was intended to hold up a mirror to audiences watching it. "It's a reflection of where society is going," DiCaprio said, citing urgency for change as the population, and the gap between the rich and poor, continues to expand.
DiCaprio listed some pretty awesome, fun, and juicy facts about making the buzzy film. Here are eight things Leo wants you to know about "The Wolf of Wall Street":
1. Matthew McConaughey Invented the 'War Cry of Greed'
"It really was controlled chaos in a lot of ways," DiCaprio explained, saying actors were constantly encouraged to improvise on the "Wolf" set. McConaughey was no exception, DiCaprio said of his fellow actor's small-but-pivotal role as "Dante bringing me into the Inferno, he was introducing me to this chaos." It was so freeform, DiCaprio said, that he got Scorsese to film something McConaughey didn't intend for the cameras at all. "[Matthew] was doing this as an acting exercise — he was beating his chest like an Indian to expand his voice. I said, 'Marty, film him doing this.'" And that's how the "War Cry of Greed" (as DiCaprio calls it) came about — a manly musical-turned-rap number also utilized by Leo and the film's other players. (Incidentally, McConaughey and DiCaprio could both come away with Globe awards on Sunday: McC is nominated for Best Actor in the Drama category for "Dallas Buyers Club" and Leo is up for his in the Musical or Comedy category.)
2. He Hasn't Worked Since 'Wolf'
He is looking for his next project, but it's taken a while for Leo to come down from his "Wolf" high. "It's the biggest adrenaline dump… I haven't been able to step on a set since," he said on Sunday.
3. Leo Recorded Belfort Imitating the Epic Quaalude High
DiCaprio said he spent "many months" with Belfort in preparation for the role. He even videotaped Belfort impersonating what it was like to be on extra-strong Lemon Quaaludes — one of the film's most memorable sequences. As a rule, Scorsese doesn't like to interact with the real people who have inspired his films. So, DiCaprio said, "I was the middleman… I would call him in between scenes." Some scenes were completely overhauled after Belfort clarified facts for DiCaprio, the actor said.
4. Leo: 'I Needed a Chiropractor After the Quaalude Scene'
If you've seen the film, Leo flings himself down a short flight of brick steps whilst in his "cerebral palsy phase" Quaalude stupor. We suspect that's what landed him on the chiropractor's table.
5. Ham-in-the-Face Took 70 Takes
Yes, we're still talking about the infamous Quaalude scene. When Donnie (Jonah Hill) starts choking on a piece of ham, Jordan (DiCaprio) administers his drug-induced version of the Heimlich maneuver. Jordan is successful in saving Donnie, and a piece of dislodged ham flies out and lands on his face. DiCaprio, who is also a producer on the film, said they built a whole rig just to get that shot, that the ham was mixed with K-Y Jelly, and that it was nearly impossible to get right. "It took about 70 times for that piece of go-da—ham to stick," he told the crowd.
6. The Goldfish Pooped in Jonah Hill's Mouth
The way Hill tells it, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was on set the day the script called for him to eat a goldfish, that there were several goldfish, that he did in fact put them in his mouth, but that he never swallowed one. DiCaprio seems to remember it a bit differently: "I think PETA got very mad at him," he said, indicating Hill really swallowed the goldfish. "And the goldfish sh-- in his mouth as well."
7. 'Wolf' Could Have Been Even LONGER
Leo said he saw a four-hour cut before "Wolf" was whittled down to a mere three. (It runs a whopping 180 minutes — quite long by today's mainstream movie standards.)
8. 'I Didn't Really Think of the Comedy Aspect'
For all the laughs "Wolf" gets, it was never intended as a conventional comedy, DiCaprio said. "We approached this very much like any other film," he explained. "It became comedic because of the absurdity of these people's lives."
The Golden Globe Awards show airs live on Sunday, Jan. 12, 8 ET/ 5 PT on NBC. Go to Yahoo Movies for full awards season coverage.
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