diCaprio made the little publicized remarks in an interview in the UK with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, who hosts a public affairs talk show.
Belfort led a high-flying, drug-fueled lifestyle in the 1990s, milking the tech stock boom in a penny stock fraud that swindled investors out of nearly $200 million. His boiler room operation was later busted by the FBI.
DiCaprio said Belfort’s excesses are not even close to the “destructive” heights of today’s Wall Street.
“I think this attitude is more and more damaging in our culture today. As our economy continues to expand, the population continues to surge – this has to do with the evolution of our species in a lot of ways,” he told the talk show host.
Although the movie has been criticized for glamorizing Belfort’s drug, sex and money lifestyle, diCaprio said the film should be viewed as a “cautionary tale.”
“People have been talking about a protagonist getting his proper punishment at the end of a film. Our film doesn’t have that because it’s the truth,” he said.
Belfort was indicted in 1998 for securities fraud and money laundering. Unlike his portrayal in the film, he cooperated with the FBI and served 22 months in federal prison. He was ordered to pay restitution to his victims, but has yet to pay the money back.
Today, he works as a motivational speaker and lives off the profits of two books, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” on which the movie is based and “Catching the Wolf of Wall Street.”
“To me, the best thing a film can do is immerse an audience completely in somebody else’s mindset,” diCaprio said.
“These people weren’t thinking about their victims – they were ships moving forward that didn’t think about the wake of their destruction. They cared only about themselves.”
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