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Martin Scorsese Says He Was Prepared For 'Wolf of Wall Street’ Controversy; Investment Banker Sues Filmmakers

by Charlie Schmidlin
February 20, 2014 10:05 AM
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Paramount’s push for Oscar gold with “The Wolf of Wall Street” has led its central team—Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jonah Hill—into the press melee to talk up the film’s many aspects. It’s a two-sided coin: they have plenty to praise but also plenty to defend, as more voices from Jordan Belfort’s past crop up to criticize the film’s immersive depiction of the New York stockbroker.

Condemnation is nothing new to Scorsese however, having battled controversy numerous times over the course of his career with works like “The Last Temptation of Christ," “Taxi Driver” and “Goodfellas." But in a new interview with Salon, the director revealed he’s never attached himself to any of his projects, past, present or future, just to see what the audience’s reaction might be.

“In none of those cases was I making a movie just because I wanted to provoke a controversy—I was drawn to make the picture and then prepared myself for a possible controversy because of the subject matter. In this case ['Wolf of Wall Street’], I was trying to deal as honestly as I could with people in the financial industry," the director explained. "We could have included a scene in which Jordan Belfort suddenly realizes what he’s done and begs for forgiveness, but that would have been false: No one in the industry, from Jordan Belfort to anyone who was involved in the most recent financial meltdown, seems to be terribly sorry about what they did."

Scorsese also offered, “You can’t make pictures in order to be liked by everybody—or rather, you can, but it doesn’t interest me.” And that’s certainly true in the case of investment banker Andrew Greene (via EW), who’s now suing DiCaprio’s Appian Way production company and Paramount Pictures for $25 million over his on-screen portrayal as Nicky “Rugrat” Koskoff in the film.

Played in 'Wolf' by actor P.J. Byrne, who sports a pitiful toupee referenced repeatedly throughout, Greene is suing the filmmakers for defamation; he says he never gave his consent for involvement, and that the film paints him as a “as a criminal and drug user with misogynistic tendencies”—a description that has hindered his professional life.

The filmmakers have yet to offer comment, but Greene’s case is just another sign that for reasons positive and negative, Scorsese’s latest release won’t be going away anytime soon. And for a bit of the former quality, we’ve got a spotlight featurette on DiCaprio’s performance as Belfort, and also a 30-minute interview with Jonah Hill. Watch both clips below.

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  • L.A. | February 24, 2014 11:58 AMReply

    I applause Martin Scorsese for his movie. I think wows makes the audience think like a jury. He presented the story from those people's point of view and we react to it and get to have our own opinion of them.

  • az | February 20, 2014 2:16 PMReply

    Having just seen The act of killing, is there really any need for a debate over the negative effect of movie glamorization. Whether you love them or loathe them, I think we can all simply hold our hands up and admit the movies have had an appalling, toxic effect on society and live with the consequences.

  • az | February 20, 2014 6:41 PM

    Think Pandora's box, the Greek myth not the movie.

  • md | February 20, 2014 2:35 PM

    Movies have an appalling effect on society? Before the first foot of celluloid ran through a camera, society had done a fine job of being appalling all on it's own. If all you took from "The Act of Killing" was that movies pervert us into being apathetic sociopaths, then I suppose you never considered it was a movie itself which made you become concerned about the negative influences of art.

  • Christian | February 20, 2014 11:27 AMReply

    It's embarrassing that Marty still has to put up with this bullshit. At 71 he still has his finger on the pulse of the American culture. And I'm Danish! Looking forward to Silence, Marty.

  • suzie | April 19, 2014 5:41 PM

    Sorry Christian this wasn't meant for you it was meant for AZ. Cheers

  • suzie | April 19, 2014 5:34 PM

    Hey Christian/ danish. Marty does what he wants despite the consequences. He's a genius at bringing to life others people's stories. He decides not you. You aren't an American and as usual point your criticism where it's not cared about. Looking forward to your silence. This is a movie not a conspiracy! Get a grip.

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