Since it's release on Christmas Day, director Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street has been stirring up controversy for its profanity (it broke the record for most "F-bombs" in a movie with 506), and the Academy member who thinks the filmmaker should be "ashamed of himself" for making this R-rated drama. The story is adapted from Jordan Belfort's memoir, which charts his successful stockbroking firm Stratton Oakmont, where he made millions of dollars by defrauding his clients. The director himself sat down with Gold Derby for a video interview, where he offers his thoughts on the controversy, his relationship with the Academy, what he was trying to say with his use of profanity and obscenity and his favorite scene. Check out the video below, then read on for some of his quotes from the interview.
When asked about his reaction to the controversy surrounding The Wolf of Wall Street, the director admits that it can be frustrating, although he is glad people are actually talking about the movie, one way or another.
"I go back to 1973 with Mean Streets, and then a few years later with Taxi Driver, and then Raging Bull and Goodfellas, Casino, and pictures like that, The Last Temptation of Christ. I have had experience with this sort of thing. I find that it's disappointing at times, it's frustrating, but on the other hand, the film seems to be about something that people can talk about. Some people may disagree, some may not, but this is an open dialogue, and it's exciting. That's exciting, whether you think something is well-made or not, this is a big issue, in terms of what it says about the country, what it says about our culture, what it says about human nature, and this is something that not only ourselves, but our children should be made aware of. I don't think that children should see the film, let me make that clear, but they should be made aware of the values in our society and our culture. It's interesting because people are really talking about that, I think. Yes, the film is a lightning rod, so to speak. Whether our intentions were to cause a sensation, I don't know about that. I was trying to show it profanely with a touch of obscenity in the same way that these people feel about other people, the contempt that they feel, in terms of money, in terms of the money culture. It's profane and obscene also, so I think why not just do it? Why not just show it and maybe provoke it to the point where you take the audience into that mindset and actually, at times, find it funny? This is the sharp edge of the picture, in a way. Yes, it is funny, but I've always said that it's not funny."
He was also asked about his response from Academy voters, who generally favor more inspiring movies, although he managed to win over the voters in 2006 with his gritty crime thriller The Departed. Here's what he had to say about his complex relationship with the Academy.
"It's tricky because my relationship with the Academy has always been... The Departed was something that maybe came out of timing, I'm not sure. I'm not saying the film doesn't deserve it, I'm just saying that, by that point in time, maybe the way that film was made and what that film said and how we said it, maybe they got used to that from Casino and Goodfellas and Mean Streets and Taxi Driver. I think I had gone 36 years without an acknowledgment on that level, from the Acadmey. I think the first time I was nominated for Best Director was Raging Bull, bypassing Taxi Driver and Mean Streets. When Raging Bull was up there as one of the best pictures of year, I was excited, because it was a very tough movie. It's not for everybody, and I was excited it was on that level. When it didn't win the Oscar, and I didn't win the DGA award or any of that, what was I going to do? I was quite content to be able to make the movies."
The director also discussed the scene he is most proud of, where Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) meets FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) on his yacht. What do you think about all this controversy surrounding The Wolf of Wall Street? Do you think it should be one of the Academy's picks for Best Picture? Let us know your thoughts below.