You've mentioned that your relationship with crooked financier Dana Giacchetto was one of your inspirations for tackling this project. Can you speak to that?
“Well, I wouldn’t say that he was a direct influence. I had kind of been obsessed with doing this project ever since 2008 — really, after the economic crash. I thought this level of hedonism, this world, needs to be authentically portrayed up on screen. In a lot of ways, it's a reflection of the world around us.”
What was it like teaming up Martin Scorsese again?
“Its been an incredible collaboration. I've noticed that, after doing five films with Marty, each time is a discovery process for both of us. We were trying to portray the honest, corrupt nature of these people here. The plot itself was kind of irrelevant for him. He encouraged all of us actors to improvise and re-improvise the previous improvisation; to be free and really push the boundaries every single day. That's how you get a movie like this, when you infuse that kind of attitude in your actors. I'm just thankful that Martin Scorsese is still punk rock, still this vital at 71-years-old. He’s one of the greatest artists of our time.”
Does winning your Globe make the role that much more significant to your career?
“The truth is, there have only been two projects in my entire career that I really pushed as hard as I could to get up on the big screen. Oddly enough, they both took about eight to ten years to actually come to fruition. One was The Aviator. I picked up a book about Howard Hughes when I was 21. From there, I developed the story with Michael Mann. Ten years later, it was live. Marty thankfully did that. This project was the other one. I created a makeshift production company unto itself just to find material outside the studio system. That holds great significance for me. I'm just so proud to have Marty be at the helm of it.”
What helps you find the balance between the real you and the roles that you play?
“Well, every role is different. This film in particular took on a life of its own. It was like a giant adrenaline dump when I finished this film. I really haven’t been able to work since. Making movies is an interesting process. You put your life on hold, and these characters, for better or worst, really do envelop you. Thank God none of the attributes of this character rubbed off on me in real life. I probably wouldn’t be standing here today if they did.”
So, what's next?
“I have no idea what my next role is going to be! To use Marty as an example again: What he does so well is portray the darker nature of humanity up on screen. He’s not didactic in his approach to filmmaking. The novel we based the story off of was so honest. Jordan Belfort tried honestly convey the time period where he went way too far and fell prey to greed, wealth, and power. So, I have no idea if I am going to find something this interesting to do in the future. I can only cross my fingers and hope to.”