Leonardo DiCaprio reflects on his unique early career decisions, making ‘Wolf of Wall Street,’ and producing films that matter in the current marketplace.
LA Times profile on Leonardo DiCaprio accentuates his humble roots, Scorsese as a mentor, and surviving childhood through acting.
Here’s a excerpt on ‘Wolf’ and issues of income inequality:
Some of the harshest criticism has focused on whether “Wolf” exalts the excesses it depicts. DiCaprio took pains to defend and define the movie’s tone shortly after its Christmas Day release, including an interview with The Times. That media offensive added more fuel to the fire for some who questioned what right a wealthy Hollywood star like DiCaprio had to address the subject of income disparity in America.
"Who am I to talk about this?" DiCaprio says, opening a second bottle of Coke, warming to the subject. "It goes back to that neighborhood. It came from the fact that I grew up very poor and I got to see the other side of the spectrum."
That happened when DiCaprio won a scholarship to University Elementary School (now known as the UCLA Lab School). Each day, DiCaprio’s mom drove him 10 miles to Westwood, a fairly short journey that crossed a great economic and cultural gulf.
"It was like this little Garden of Eden," he remembers. "There was a park and kids were playing in the sunshine and everything was multicultural, everything was peaceful, every religion and race and attitude was respected equally. And if I went to play with my friends, I would drive to Beverly Hills and go in their backyard and there’d be a waterfall there. I mean, a waterfall! In the backyard? What the … ".
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Best Actor
"I am deeply humbled by this honor and even happier to share today with Marty, Jonah, Terry as well as this entire cast and crew. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ has been a passion project of mine, and I found the role to be one of the most challenging and rewarding of my career. Congratulations to all of my fellow nominees and thank you to the Academy for this extraordinary recognition."
The film also received Oscar nods for Achievement Film Editing, Achievement In Costume Design and Achievement In Production Design. Congratulations to all!
Congratulations to Leonardo DiCaprio on his 4th Best Actor Oscar Nomination for ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’
"I’m never eating at Benihana again. I don’t care whose birthday it is."
Congrats to Jonah Hill for his Oscar Nomination
BEST FILMS OF 2013
1) 12 YEARS A SLAVE
I usually struggle with the top spot on my list, weighing several great films to figure out number one. This year, the answer was so simple because 12 Years A Slave is the most brilliantly acted, written, shot, and constructed film of the year. It’s a true masterpiece that elevates and justifies the medium of film. Emotionally, this is a film that cuts through the noise and connects with universal truths and experiences. Chiwetel Ejiofor anchors this piece, making it impossible not to connect with this character and story. His performance is so beautiful in his ability to bring anger, compassion, and hope, a hope that defies circumstance and betrayal to seek freedom. The entire ensemble delivers, with always excellent Michael Fassbender delivering his best and most terrifying performance.
Steve McQueen, with screenwriter John Ridley, examines the nature of racial oppression during slavery, emphasizing how encompassing this brutal system shaped choices and degraded the spirit of everyone involved. Approaching slavery, even as a child, I immediately felt ashamed, knowing my ancestors were held in bondage, tortured, and murdered with no regard. That shame, which permeates every conversation of race and slavery in US, keeps us from confronting these issues and working toward greater understanding. Knowing Solomon Northup’s story and connecting to that hope extinguishes that shame. I may not be able to trace my ancestors beyond a few generations, but I can hold Northup’s story as a part of my history now. This film is vital and should begin conversations about history and the continuing effects of this oppressive system in our culture and society.
BEST FILMS OF 2013
Deceptively simple and brilliantly gorgeous, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is the most suspenseful and life-affirming film of the year. The opening sequences lulls you into the wonder of space and quickly fills every subsequent moment with dread and exhilaration as Sandra Bullock tries to rejoin planet Earth, both literally and figuratively. Bullock is devastatingly good here, pushing the boundaries of emotional, physical, and dramatic acting. The film score perfectly heightens the terror and brings us further into Bullock’s performance.
BEST FILMS OF 2013
3) THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
For their fifth collaboration, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio deliver the funniest and most outrageous film of the year. Wickedly hilarious and wildly decadent, The Wolf of Wall Street explores the moral corruption of high rolling swindlers. In the most rigorous performance of the year, DiCaprio holds the screen for every second of the 3 hour running time with the funniest and most physically demanding performance of his amazing career. As Jordan Belfort, DiCaprio depicts a person with little to no empathy or moral capacity. He lives only for himself and the constant pursuit of pleasure, often at the expense of others, even those he claims to care about. Wolf of Wall Street doesn’t celebrate these thieves, instead the film depicts the moral depravity of those who scheme to ruin other for their own benefit.
BEST FILMS OF 2013
4) FRUITVALE STATION
Next to 12 Years A Slave, this film has the most potential to change people’s hearts. We follow Oscar Grant, a 22 year old, African American man, through the last day of his life and come to grieve for tremendous loss from his murder by a BART police officer on New Years Day. Michael B. Jordan commands the screen showing Oscar’s various personas and relationships, giving a glimpse into the pressures unique to African American males. There are so many subtle moments, Oscar’s silent reticence as a police car passes him, the quick flashes of anger as he tries talking to his mother (played brilliantly by Octavia Spencer), and sobering looks in the faces of Oscar’s friends after his shooting revealing their realization that anyone of them could have been shot that night. Fruitvale Station transports us to the intersection of Black, male, and working class, challenging us to greater understanding and empathy.