For his latest Hollywood role he has become an icon of hedonism, recklessness and the worst excesses of the banking industry.
But according to Leonardo DiCaprio, even the profanity-laden, ultra-expensive life of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, whom he plays in The Wolf of Walls Street, does not match up to the ‘destructive’ heights of today’s Wall Street.
The actor said that as the economy has grown, the culture of unbounded greed shown in the film, directed by Martin Scorsese, has becoming ‘more and more damaging in our culture’.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, he said the culture of Wall Street as shown in the film, which is set mostly in the boom years of the 1990s, was ‘incredibly destructive.’
He then added: ‘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.’
And though the actor admitted that the excesses of the film – which shows bankers using prostitutes at work, taking hard drugs and even organising a midget-throwing competition – were distasteful, he insisted the ‘cautionary tale’ was simply being true to life.
He said: ‘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.’
Responding to some critics, who have complained that the film ignores the suffering of investors who lost millions to line bankers’ pockets, he said that when making the film a conscious decision had been made to show only the people living the high life.
He explained: ‘We very purposefully didn’t do that [include the victims]. To me, the best thing a film can do is immerse an audience completely in somebody else’s mindset. 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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