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FILM interview: The Wolf of Wall Street's young stars on starring in the darkly comic tale

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 16, 2014

Leonardo Di Caprio plays Jordan Belfort in the Wolf of Wall Street

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Jordan Belfort, aka The Wolf Of Wall Street, lived the sort of life that was made for movies.

As Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio seize upon the story, The Buzz catches up with the film's young stars

Margot Robbie might have left Neighbours just three short years ago, but that didn't stop her telling Leonardo DiCaprio he was in her light, during an intimate scene they were shooting for a new Martin Scorsese movie.

"They were trying to figure out how to get the shadow off my face and I knew it was being created by his head - so I moved it," says the beautiful blonde Australian who plays DiCaprio's trophy wife in the darkly comic The Wolf Of Wall Street.

No doubt it's been a while since someone said that to super star DiCaprio.

"He was incredulous," admits Robbie, laughing.

The 23-year-old actress is modestly dressed in a black dress, hair pinned up in a chignon. "He was like, 'Did you just move me out of your light?'"

Robbie, who popped up in Richard Curtis's About Time last year, can't quite believe she's in a Scorsese movie. "It's completely surreal. I still can't get my head around it," she says, recalling how one audition led to another.

Before she knew it, she was in a room with the 71-year-old Goodfellas director (or Marty, as she calls him) and DiCaprio, who co-produced the movie.

"Then it all looked like it wasn't going to happen but at the 11th hour, I was told Pan Am [the period drama she also stars in] had cleared me [to do it].

"That all happened last minute so I didn't really have time to get nervous about it."

That's no bad thing, given the film's content. It's based on the memoirs of Jordan Belfort [DiCaprio], a New York stockbroker who, along with his merry band of brokers, made a gargantuan amount of cash in the early Nineties by defrauding people of millions.

The film follows their outlandish pleasure-hunting and the result's an epic three hours of orgies, drug-taking and outrageous spending, until Belfort gets his comeuppance.

"The less time you have to overthink things, the better," says Robbie, who strips off entirely in the film.

Paying tribute to the "fantastic" lighting and make-up, she says stripping wasn't the biggest challenge. The hardest thing was walking onto "such a huge, fast-paced chaotic set with arguably the biggest director and actor of our generation".

"...And then play a character that has the biggest personality and all the confidence in the world, when you feel like you have none at all," she adds. "You've got to act like you rule the room."

She plays Belfort's second wife, a Queens princess called Naomi. "I loved playing her. She's a tough cookie, a bad-ass, so it was really fun, but it's very hard to fake that utter conviction in yourself."

The accent is spot-on and she says once she'd perfected that, the "mannerisms, attitude and improvised lines came" (there's a lot of improvisation).

Robbie might not share the same background as her glamorous character but there's a similar toughness and sense of ambition. "I dream big," as the actress puts it herself, which is why she's wound up starring alongside another Hollywood heavyweight, Will Smith, in forthcoming movie, Focus.

"Will and Leo are known in the industry as being, well, two of the biggest, but two of the nicest guys ever, despite their humongous profiles, and both managed to exceed my expectations."

She especially enjoyed working with DiCaprio in such close quarters. "Leo's very committed. I could go in any direction and he'd be right there. It pushed me to take more risks, because he was," she notes.

And it helped that he was so easy-going. "My friends and family who got to meet him all walked away amazed by how incredibly normal he is."

Another person singing the Titanic star's praises is Superbad's Jonah Hill, who stars in the movie as Belfort's right-hand man Donnie Azoff.

"I got an opportunity to meet with Leo and give him an impassioned argument as to why I had to play this part, and he was supportive," says 30-year-old Hill, who started out in comedic roles before proving his dramatic mettle in his Oscar-nominated role in Moneyball.

With DiCaprio's backing, Hill flew to New York to have a meeting with Scorsese, but when he turned up, he asked the director if he could audition for him.

"I wanted to show Scorsese what I wanted to do, instead of just begging him for the part," admits LA-born Hill, laughing.

But there are only a few roles in his career that he felt simply had to be his - this being one of them.

"He's someone I felt represented what was wrong about certain elements of society and I wanted to bring him to life. All he cares about is being wealthy.

He doesn't really care who he has to hurt to get there. It's why I felt so compelled to play this person, because he's coming from a different place than I am," he explains.

The task took its toll, though.

"I'd be driving home and go, 'Oh my gosh, what did I do today?' I'd feel bad. I just didn't like the way Donnie treated people," the actor adds.

"You know the scene with the goldfish [he eats it], and he throws a cigarette at a kid and makes him cry? It's really degrading and I have a hard time with stuff like that."

When the screenwriter Terence Winter, who also penned The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire, watched the final cut, he found it jaw-dropping, saying: "It was exactly what I'd written, yet I couldn't believe the level of insanity and intensity and hilarity. Just the level to which all of these actors committed was astounding. It was a tsunami of craziness."

Hill's response? "I knew it was going to be crazy, just from what we were shooting. I think everyone came with the attitude that no one's pulling any punches."

It's why an improvisatory spirit reigned on set, not least the scene in which Jordan and Donnie overdose, not realising the drugs have a delayed fuse.

"It was the most insane thing I've ever done in my entire life," says Hill, who will reprise his role opposite Channing Tatum in the sequel 22 Jump Street this summer. "But I like improvisation, because you don't know what's going to happen.

"There's a real danger in it."

On general release tomorrow (Friday, Jan 17)

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