Matthew McConaughey's scenes were shot on the second week of filming. The chest beating and humming performed by him was improvised and actually a warm-up rite that he performs before acting. When Leonardo DiCaprio saw it while filming, the brief shot of him looking away uneasily from the camera was actually him looking at Martin Scorsese for approval. DiCaprio encouraged them to include it in their scene and later claimed it "set the tone" for the rest of the film.
Martin Scorsese claimed that the sequence of Jordan attempting to get in his car while extremely impaired on Lemmons was improvised on the day of filming, and that it was Leonardo DiCaprio's idea to open the car door with his foot. DiCaprio strained his back during the scene, and was only able to perform the stunt once.
On a routine visit, Steven Spielberg spent a day on the set, watching the shoot of the Steve Madden speech. Martin Scorsese claims that Spielberg essentially codirected the scene, giving advice to actors and suggesting camera angles.
Originally, Martin Scorsese offered Margot Robbie to appear wearing a bath-robe during the seduction scene between her and Leonardo DiCaprio. Robbie refused and insisted on doing the scene fully nude; her first in her career. According to Robbie: "The whole point of Naomi is that her body is her only form of currency in this world...She has to be naked. She's laying her cards on the table." Robbie said she had three shots of tequila in succession before shooting the scene to relax. After shooting was complete, Robbie initially fibbed to her family and friends about actually doing the nude scene in order to delay any personal repercussions; claiming C.G.I. was used to superimpose her head on a body-double. She eventually changed her mind and confessed when the film was released.
Jordan Belfort coached Leonardo DiCaprio on his behavior, especially instructing him in the various ways he had reacted to the Quaaludes he abused as well as his dope-induced confrontation with Danny Porush.
Martin Scorsese has confirmed that some of the editing is odd on purpose, especially the scenes where one or more characters are high, every time Jordan is seen taking drugs the scenes that follow have continuity issues and often flow oddly.
Leonardo DiCaprio was obsessed with playing Jordan Belfort since getting hold of the book back in 2007, DiCaprio has been focused on turning the depraved tale of Jordan Belfort into a film. However, he wasn't just interested in this story's connection to the most recent collapse on Wall Street, he was also attracted to Jordan's honest and uncompromising portrayal of what he actually experienced.
Martin Scorsese needed a pick-up shot of the "fasten your seat belt" blinking sign for the airplane scene but didn't want to waste time and money on setting up a gimbal. Robert Legato, the effects supervisor, took a reference video of one during a flight with his iPhone to show Scorsese. Upon seeing the footage, Scorsese said "Great. Let's just use that." Thus, the film became Scorsese's first to incorporate footage taken from an iPhone.
In an interview with Margot Robbie, she reveals that for the scene where Jordan and Naomi have sex for the first time in her apartment and her dog tries to jump up and bite him that they had trouble getting the dog to jump, so they had to put dog food and chicken livers all over Leonardo DiCaprio's feet and between his toes.
Leonardo DiCaprio says that he and Martin Scorsese were able to 'push the envelope' with their depiction of over-the-top sexual acts and scenes in "Wolf" and 'make the movie they wanted to' primarily because the production was financed independently, and not by any major studio. Scorsese did, however, edit some sexual content and nudity to avoid an NC-17 rating at the request of the MPAA.
The real Jordan Belfort supported the film's depiction of excess as true to life, though he pointed out that the film leaves the impression that Stratton Oakmont never did any serious work. Belfort argued that they could not have gotten away with their corrupt practices for so long unless they had been delivering on legitimate business most of the time.
In order to show Jordan's state of mind, director of photography Rodrigo Prieto constantly switched lens types. For scenes where Jordan is in a clear mental state, flat spherical lenses are used, while in sections where he does not, anamorphic lenses are used. Longer focal lenses are used from the stage where Jordan is being pursued by Denham and his team to reflect Belfort's unraveling and the sense of being spied upon.
The initial cut of the film ran approximately four hours. Paramount originally intended to release the four hour director's cut in DVD and Blu-ray but changed its mind and stayed with the three hour theatrical release version.
Leonardo DiCaprio explained to Ellen DeGeneres that during the Quaalude sequence it took them seventy takes just to get the ham to stick to his face. This was achieved by flicking the ham off a spoon and using K Y jelly in order to make it sticky enough.
For the deposition scenes, the actors were merely instructed by Martin Scorsese to avoid saying anything important, or anything at all. They have the freedom to improvise how to do that. Editor Thelma Schoonmaker said that these scenes, some of them 20-minute long, were hysterical due to the things they came up with.
Production was halted for a week during Hurricane Sandy's assault on New York in late 2012. Martin Scorsese was even denied access to his film facility on Manhattan's 57th Street due to the potential hazards posed by a toppled crane near his building.
When Jordan is filming one of his infomercials, he appears on a boat in front of women in brightly colored bikinis. This is a direct homage to Tom Vu's infomercials from the late 80s and early 90s in which people would be invited to his get-rich-quick seminars.
Mark Hanna is an actual stock-broker who eventually also went to prison for securities fraud, but many other names in the movie have been changed: Jordan Belfort's partner Danny Porush (who also was later imprisoned) is renamed Donnie Azoff; lawyer Ira Lee Sorkin, who later would defend Bernard Madoff is Manny Riskin; F.B.I. Agent Gregory Coleman is now called Patrick Denham. and Nadine Belfort is now Naomi Belfort
This is the first film for producers Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland under their Red Granite banner. According to them, they decided to finance this film as a challenge in response to the idea that no studio was willing to finance an explicit, over-the-top sex-laced film with a large budget (produced at around $100,000,000). Aziz and McFarland were formerly investment bankers, the bulk of the funding comes from their investors' contacts, mostly from Mid-West Asia.
According to Martin Scorsese, the scene where Jordan returns home high on Quaaludes to address Donnie, the island in the middle of the kitchen was originally a hindrance that couldn't be removed since it was an filmed in an actual house. He would've preferred to not have been there originally but it ended up working well in the scene since Jordan was unable to move properly being so high and whatever prevented him from getting to Donnie added to the physical humor.
Another Martin Scorsese/Goodfellas (1990) & Boardwalk Empire (2010) character connection is former N.Y.C. super-cop and now-prominent private investigator Bo Dietl, appearing as himself as Jordan Belfort's real-life P.I., and recreating an actual dinner meeting at East Harlem's infamous and exclusive mob/celebrity insiders' restaurant, Rao's.
Although this was originally announced as Martin Scorsese's first non-3D movie to be shot entirely digitally, it ended up being mostly shot on film. Shooting outside at night was done with digital cameras to minimize the need for extensive lighting.
In the airplane bachelor party scene, actress Maria Di Angelis who played one of the hookers paired with P.J. Byrne (Nicky Koskoff), recounted that the actress paired with Leonardo DiCaprio had to be replaced because she was actually shagging him too enthusiastically and realistically. It was also revealed the scene had to be shot with the actors completely silent while filming it.
During a heated argument between Jordan and Naomi, Jordan keeps reiterating "Who, who?" after which Naomi mimicks him sarcastically saying, "Who? Who? What are you, a fuckin' owl?" This was the precise line Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) used while interrogating Alan Marciano (Hank Azaria) in Heat (1995).
"RFK 575" -the license plate number visible on the front of Jordan's yellow Jaguar that he parks at the Greek diner when he first meets Donnie, is the exact same plate number also used in at least three other previous films: The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), Final Destination (2000), and Zoolander (2001).
When Jordan Belfort shows up at a gritty Long Island strip mall answering an advertisement for brokers, he enters a store-front with a sign above it touting "Robert Mancuso Accounting." This is an insider's nod to veteran camera assistant Bobby Mancuso, who not only worked on "Wolf" but on two other major releases the same year: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013).
While a law student in the mid-80s, screenwriter Terence Winter worked part-time as a legal assistant in Merrill Lynch's equity trading department, an experience which provided some background for this movie.
The white car Jordan drives under the influence is a Lamborghini Countach. Back then in the 1980s this car didn't meet the safety requirements in the US with its original design. It had to be specially modified with additional bumpers in order to meet the safety requirements in the US market. The one that is seen in the movie has these additional bumpers on. Today any car older than 25 years old is exempt from design legislations in the US, so the Countach can be used freely without the bumpers.
Conference room scene where they are talking about making the midget feel he is " one of us" they start chanting one of us, gooble gobble, one of us, we accept them, one of us!" Was front the 1932 movie "Freaks" where circus sideshow freaks accept a "normal person" as one of them
The first major studio film to be released exclusively in digital video in the United States and Canada. No thirty-five-millimetre prints were struck for these markets, but were for countries where digital projection is not as extensive.
The gray Jaguar in which Jordan and Donny are driving to the auto shop which they want to rent, is the same Jaguar that stands outside the diner seen through the windows where Jordan and Donny first meet. The shots of the yellow Jaguar are filmed later and the car can not be seen through the window during the scene.
The scene where Belfort and agent Denim are having conversation on the boat, when Belfort tells Denim a story about he changed an employees life financially overnight. Agent Denim responds with a question asking him about how much would someone make starting out. Belfort responds with "north of 500k". Denim then accuses him of the crime bribing a federal agent. When agent Denim asks Belfort the starting salary Denim is soliciting a bribe. Which is also a crime.
In the conference room, the main characters sing " One of us " , a reference to the 1932 movie " Freaks ". Olga Baclanova was the lead actress in that film and in the 1929 film " The wolf of Wall Street " .
Jonah Hill received his second Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in this film, which Spike Jonze plays a very small role in. Coincidentally, two years earlier, Jonah Hill received his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor in "Moneyball," which Spike Jonze also plays a very small role in.
The Scene When Jordan pulls into his parking spot for his interview and the Investor Center. He's seen walking towards the door before the car comes to a full stop. He's never seen getting out of the car at all.
When Naomi and Jordon get married, 'I can't help falling in love with you' by Elvis presley, which in the original song has lyrics that refer to being foolish in a relationship, is being played on the steel drums. This is a reference to how Jordon and Naomi meet whilst he is married. In 2004, the same song was played on steel drums just before Phoebe walks down the aisle, in her wedding to Mike in the American comedy series 'Friends', who was in a relationship with a character called David when Mike initially proposed to her.
In the film Catch Me If You Can (2002), Leonardo portrays Frank Abagnale Jr., a con-man who pretends to be several different professionals, one of which is an airline pilot for Pan-Am, Margot portrays a stewardess in the short lived t.v. series Pan-Am (2011-2012).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The real Jordan Belfort appears in a brief role in the film's final scene, introducing his cinema stand-in Leonardo DiCaprio. As accurately portrayed, Belfort is now a motivational speaker who previously served 22 months in federal prison for stock fraud.
The scene where Brad punches Donnie is real, in fact Jon Bernthal hit Jonah Hill so hard that the prosthetic teeth he was wearing split and flew out of his mouth. Martin Scorsese then proceeded to film Hill's face swelling in real time.
Margot Robbie has revealed that she accidentally slapped Leonardo DiCaprio more violently than she intended to while shooting a scene: she got a little lost in the moment, slapped his face and said "Fuck you". There was a stunned silence on the set and then all of them burst out laughing, but she feared that DiCaprio would sue her for it. She apologized, but he was impressed with her courage and asked her to hit him again.
Although the real Jordan Belfort was supportive of the film, and accepting of his negative portrayal, he disputed the film's depiction of the end of his second marriage. Although he admitted to having hit his wife during a fight, he claims that it happened earlier during the height of his drug addiction, and that their break-up occurred without incident when he was clean and sober.
The gay orgy was one of the scenes that had to be toned down to earn an R rating. V.F.X. supervisor and second unit director Robert Legato shot footage of a chair in a lobby then had artists digitally implement the chair to the shots to avoid displaying the men's genitals.
Jonah Hill wanted to eat a real goldfish because he wanted everything to be real. Everyone was working so hard on this movie that he didn't want to be the person who wasn't. Obviously, regulations didn't allow it. They had a real goldfish and three goldfish handlers/wranglers on set. Hill could keep the goldfish in his mouth for three seconds at a time and then they had to put it back in water unharmed.
This film shares similarities with Catch Me If You Can (2002), which also stars Leonardo DiCaprio. Both are based on autobiographies written by men who got caught for fraud, and both end with the protagonist begrudgingly cooperating with the FBI.
When Jordan is talking about Brad's death he says: "He was 35, same age as Mozart. I don't know why I remember that" This is a reference to Amadeus (1984) where Mozart (whose first name was Wolfgang) is repeatedly called "Wolfie" through the film by his wife Constanze. In this film, Jordan is called "Wolfie" repeatedly while in is office and by his friends.
Just like in Goodfellas or Casino (like Robert DeNiro's Sam Rothstein), the main character goes through several make-up changes to emphasize his evolution from a naive, innocent person to a sneaky, money-crazed pervert.