Interview: Martin Scorsese says you’d have to force him to retire

Martin Scorsese's latest picture is "The Wolf of Wall Street," about characters arguably even worse than the ones in "Goodfellas." Credit: Getty Images
Martin Scorsese’s latest picture is “The Wolf of Wall Street,” about characters arguably even worse than the ones in “Goodfellas.”
Credit: Getty Images

Martin Scorsese loves talking about other filmmaker’s pictures, as witness his numerous documentaries on cinema history. But occasionally he’s up for talking about his own. His latest, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” is an even more hedonistic romp than “Goodfellas,” with arguably worse villains: brokers (led by Leonardo DiCaprio) who, from the ‘80s through the ‘90s, preyed on the dupes and made a fortune.

On how he’s slow to come around to suggested projects: “I read the script [of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’] many times. For me, when something is given to me by other people, I don’t necessarily respond to it right away. ‘The King of Comedy’ — that was 10 years before I was able to come around to it. ‘Raging Bull’ took six, seven years. I have to find my own way with it, I think.”

On taking on risky projects (like this): “The issue is: is it worth fighting that proves? Because it’s all about fighting, unfortunately. It’s not about good people or bad people — it’s about what [the execs] need, what they want to do, what could deliver for the market place. It might not be worth it at a certain time in your life.”

On his despicable characters (in “Wolf,” that is): “They’re human beings. And we are not all one thing, are we? We’re capable of many different things in different circumstances. … I’m interested in people who are good who do bad things.”

On the new Hollywood: “I don’t know who’s calling the shots anymore. Seriously. The cinema we know and the cinema we took seriously when we were growing up, it’s all changed now. Particularly in a market place like this. …. Everything’s about where the money is.”

On not wanting to meet his real-life protagonist, former broker Jordan Belfort: “I did the same with Henry Hill [the lead character of “Goodfellas”]. I never met him. I spoke to him once on the phone and that was it. Because they’re very persuasive. … They’re fascinating, but they can be persuasive.”

On shooting the comic quaaludes set piece, in which DiCaprio’s character tries to drive after pills make him loose most control of his body: “The funniest part for me is when he finally crawls out [the door of a country club] and you see he has to get into the car. … I had forgotten that the door of his Lamborghini opens up [not sideways]. I said ‘I don’t know, try doing it with your legs.’ It’s physical comedy, like Jerry Lewis and Jacques Tati.”

On unfounded rumors he’s retiring: “You’d have to stop me yourself. You’d have to tackle me to stop me.”


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