The real “Wolf of Wall Street” Jordan Belfort joined CNN’s Piers Morgan on Monday where he answered charges that the films glamorizes critical behavior.
Morgan noted that Belfort, who stole millions of dollars from investors in sham deals, modeled his career on Gordon Gekko from 1987 film “Wall Street,” and asked if the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio will inspire a new generation of ethically flexible financial whiz kids.
“There is a danger that all this movie will do is create a load of the old Jordan Belforts … who even you admit was a pretty bad guy,” the host said.
“There’s a fundamental difference between the Gordan Gekko character and myself,” Belfort replied. “Number one, Gordan Gekko was a fictionalized character and [viewers] never really saw his downfall … You don’t find out until ‘Wall Street 2’ what happened to Gordon Gekko. In [‘Wolf of Wall Street’] it’s pretty clear that I lost everything — and also my story is known throughout the world that I ended up in jail and that it was a disaster personally, professionally.”
He went on to argue that his rise to riches had some positive lessons too, beyond just teaching viewers about the glories of snorting cocaine off a hooker’s butt.
“There’s a lot of great things to glean from the movie,” Belfort said. “Hopefully when people see this they can say, ‘There are some things in there that, wow, really are inspiring': starting from nothing, the stuff with selling and motivation. I think that does inspire, I think it should move people but they need to get it in the context that if you’re not doing it with ethics and integrity it’s a disaster for yourself and everyone around you.”
Belfort said that he spent more than 100 hours with DiCaprio, helping him prepare for the role. “One thing I don’t think people realize about Leo is … he strives for it — he works really, really hard,” Belfort told Morgan.
“You don’t realize how much he’s looking at you, because when I saw it on screen I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ he continued. “It was mind-boggling to see,”
Belfort added that he was “speechless” when he first saw the film.
“I felt myself sweating at certain points, when some of the cocaine was being snorted — I got all these sympathetic reactions to it,” he told Morgan.
Watch the clips: