Scorsese talks to Anne Thompson:
Money shot: “What we know is that deep inside of every one of us, we have weakness, we are human beings and in the right wrong circumstances we are capable of anything and that’s what the movie is about.”
More Scorsese, who really does have to explain himself, apparently, because so many seemed to have either missed the point or misjudged his intentions completely:
We are complicit, in the sense that we have let the culture become something where the only thing that has genuine meaning is cash. That’s it. I’m 71. I’ve been around for quite a while now. Yes, I was young in the 50s and the 60s. I just remember, and I come from a Medieval culture, Sicilian Americans on the lower East Side. America was a place where, yes, you had opportunity, there’s no doubt I took advantage of it. My parents took advantage as best they could with no education.
I gotta tell you the danger is that the assumption now–and young people don’t know any better, they were not alive before– is that America is a place where anybody can get rich. And everything else means nothing. So it’s ruthless that way. It’s always been part of the American story, but not to the extent where people are living below the poverty line, people can’t eat, people are sleeping in the streets, there’s a disaster in 2008. And nobody is culpable. Nothing gets done.
Did Jordan Belfort serve much time?
I think 22 months, he did his time, even if it’s two days in a locked room, that isn’t pleasant. I don’t know the real Jordan Belfort. We took it from the book and other elements and combined stories, it’s about the mindset, of the ability to make money that way, disregarding everything else, the ruthlessness of it. And if you dare to have a touch of real guilt or concern, there are drugs to help that sort of thing.
With this film were you channeling your own past drug years?
My drug years were about a year and a half. My drug years started when I was three years old, with severe asthma. In 1945 when they took out my tonsils and suddenly my lungs went, they almost went when I was two weeks old when I had whooping cough. My lungs have never been any good. The doctors did the best they could at the time. I was always around the medical world, always a patient, in that sense. So to me, it’s just part of my life, I know it.
What we know is that deep inside of every one of us, we have weakness, we are human beings and in the right wrong circumstances we are capable of anything and that’s what the movie is about. I am that person, yes, I am capable of that in the right wrong circumstances during filming, maybe not to that extent. It could be in my world of filmmaking, could be in a love situation, dealing with your family, children. You are not perfect all the time. I am far from perfect, I’ll let you in on that. I am very far from perfect.