We're sure that Leonardo DiCaprio acknowledges such legends as Marlon Brando and Laurence Olivier when it comes to acting inspiration. But for at least one key scene in "The Wolf of Wall Street," Leo turned to a much more unexpected muse: the poor drunk bastard in a certain viral video.
After dabbling in family entertainment (quite wonderfully, at that) with "Hugo" (2011), director Martin Scorsese is back with making the most vulgar, outrageous behavior seem like high art in "The Wolf of Wall Street." The film marks the master filmmaker's fifth 'picture' (as Marty likes to call it) with DiCaprio, who plays Jordan Belfort, a mega-rich and mega-amoral stockbroker whose memoir of the same title chronicles what DiCaprio calls "a very tumultuous, hedonistic time in his life where he gave into every possible temptation and went for every deadly sin."
It's a gloriously crass and startlingly entertaining cinematic joy ride of sex, drugs, money and weirdness — and that rare opportunity for Leo to show off his knack for physical comedy. One scene features Belfort indulging in perhaps a few Quaaludes too many, which causes him to panic and attempt to get back to his home — a tall order for a man in a state of drug-induced near-paralysis.
What proceeds is a physical tour de force for the Oscar-nominated actor as he slides, slips, and crawls along the floor, attempting to achieve forward momentum without actually being able to, you know, get up and walk.
You'd think that DiCaprio might consult a dancer or physical therapist for such a sequence, but he found exactly what he needed from talking to Belfort himself ...
"A lot of it came from Jordan talking to me about what Quaaludes are like. I had him rolling around on the floor for me. That was very helpful," said DiCaprio at the New York City press conference for the film, per Huffington Post.
... and from YouTube.
"A lot of the research that I did really came from watching this one video on loop," continued DiCaprio. "It's called 'The Drunkest [Guy] in the World.' It's a man trying to get a beer, but his body doesn't quite [work]. That was a huge inspiration to me."
Here's what's a "huge inspiration" to one of the best and most respected actors in the world (for the record, this writer has suspicions that it's at least somewhat choreographed and staged, a scenario that actually makes it somewhat even funnier):
Leonardo DiCaprio isn't the only actor to find inspiration from very strange sources. Here are some other examples where the job just couldn't get done by simply consulting a book, an acting coach, or good ol' life experience.
1. Andy Serkis: His Cats
"Gollum! Gollum!" The grotesque yet oddly heartbreaking sound made by the wretched Shakespearean fool of Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy actually came from Andy Serkis's pets. The mo-cap maestro claims he found Gollum's violent wretching from watching his cats cough up their hairballs.
"Is it juicy? Is it tasty?" Gross!
2. Nicolas Cage: Cobras
How do you move like a stunt cyclist turned undead avenger with a flaming skull where your head should be? Nicolas Cage's highly amusing, completely unhinged performance as Johnny Blaze in Neveldine & Taylor's gonzo comic book fever dream "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" (2012) actually had reptilian origins, as the actor claims he found his character's intense physicality by watching the mesmerizing moves of cobras.
3. Johnny Depp: Pepe Le Pew
By now pretty much everyone knows that Johnny Depp based much of his now-iconic "Pirates of the Caribbean" character, Captain Jack Sparrow, on Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, an homage that led to Richards playing Sparrow's father in the last two "Pirates" installments.
But what's more amusing is Depp's other source of inspiration for Captain Jack: Looney Tunes' own Pepe Le Pew, the ultra-romantic and effortlessly charming French skunk whose attempts to woo his would-be kitty love are continually thwarted by the fact that he unfortunately doesn't smell very good.
4. Ben Kingsley: His Grandmother
How could the guy who once played Gandhi also play Don Logan, one of the fiercest, most gloriously profane and downright psychopathic villains to ever grace the silver screen? Kingsley says he based his astonishing "Sexy Beast" character on one of his own kin ... and it's not his crazy uncle.
It was actually Kingsley's grandmother who provided much of the inspiration for Don, whom the Oscar-winning actor called "a vile and extremely unpleasant woman." That describes Mr. Logan to a T, minus the 'woman' part.
5. James Franco: a Gigolo at Work
This will probably come as no surprise to those familiar with one of Hollywood's most eccentric (and multitasking) talents. In preparation for his role as a New Orleans male prostitute in Nicolas Cage's directorial debut, "Sonny" (2002), James Franco took to observing an actual male prostitute... and during work hours, at that.
"There was a strip club on Bourbon Street. There was one they advertise as 'Live Sex Shows' and I went in there and met a male stripper who said he was straight and that he serviced men and women," Franco told GQ Magazine. "He was the guy I hung out with most."
However, that's not that impressive when you consider how one of Franco's spiritual predecessors had taken it a few steps further ...
6. River Phoenix: Um...
The late, great River Phoenix prepared for his role as a male hustler in Gus Van Sant's "My Own Private Idaho" (1991) by sort of pretending to be one (save crossing the line into actual illegal activity, we hear). It was an experience that brought a sense of sensual realism to Phoenix's character's introductory scene.
Watch 'The Wolf of Wall Street' Theatrical Trailer 2: