The Real 'Wolf of Wall Street' Breaks His Silence
By DAVID WEINER
January 20, 2014
ET has the real Wolf of Wall Street! We're first with Jordan Belfort, the true-life stockbroker portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the controversial late '80s/early '90s-set film, who sits down with ET's Nancy O'Dell. Reacting to Leo's Oscar nomination as well as the inaccuracies of the Oscar-nominated film, Belfort says, "...it's a bittersweet situation."
On Leo's nomination, Belfort tells Nancy, "You know it's hard to wrap my head around it a little bit. Obviously, I'm proud…I wish he played me [as if] I was Jonas Salk and had done wonderful things, so it's sort of bittersweet a little bit because many of the things that the character did -- and I always say the character because it wasn't all me -- some of it was fictionalized, but a lot of the actions that are real, what I did do, I'm not proud of. So, I guess I can say I'm proud that I was able to turn my life around, and I'm amazed at how somehow this has happened, like this movie, I just can;t believe it -- but it's weird, it's a bittersweet situation."
Belfort reveals to Nancy that Leo was constantly texting him and asking questions to gain greater insight into playing him. He said he spoke to the Oscar nominee while he was on set, and went over the script with him line by line.
Regarding what he claims are inaccuracies in the movie, Belfort states that contrary to the film’s depiction, no one lost their life savings: "It's just not true, it’s a fallacy. We were calling wealthy people. Now I can't speak for what happened after 1995 [after I left the firm]…but when I was there we were calling very wealthy people and you weren’t losing people’s life savings, that wasn’t the model. If it happened once I would be devastated, but that’s not what was happening. It’s a fallacy. By the way, that doesn’t make it any better. So, a few people lost money, that’s bad enough, but we weren’t taking people’s life savings."
Director Martin Scorsese's Oscar-nominated The Wolf of Wall Street is a hot commodity at the box office while dividing audiences in terms of whether the wild scenes of decadence depicted in the film glorify Belfort's out-of-control lifestyle. While he was still in his twenties, Belfort made just shy of a million a week as a wealthy stockbroker during the corporate-raiding '80s, living a life of hedonism and illegal money operations until the federal government finally caught up with him in the '90s.
Watch ET tonight for more of our interview with Jordan Belfort!