Jonah Hill Discusses ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’


– LOOK AT YOU
GETTING NOMINATED TWICE BEFORE YOU’RE 30 YEARS OLD. THAT’S GREAT.
– YEAH, IT’S– [cheers and applause] IT’S–IT’S A BIZARRE TIME.
[laughs] IT’S INCREDIBLE. IT’S BEYOND BELIEF. – IT’S SO FUNNY, BECAUSE
I KNOW HOW HILARIOUS YOU ARE. I MEAN, EVERYBODY
KNOWS HOW HILARIOUS YOU ARE FROM YOUR PREVIOUS FILMS, BUT YOU’RE SUCH
A GREAT DRAMATIC ACTOR AS WELL. YOU WERE SO GOOD IN THIS FILM.
– THANK YOU. – DID YOU SEE THE FILM?
HE’S SO GOOD IN THIS FILM. [cheers and applause]
– THANK YOU. THANK YOU. YEAH, NO, I–
THANK YOU. – HOW DID YOU GET THE ROLE? – WELL, I HAD MET
MARTIN SCORSESE AT THE OSCARS WHEN I WAS NOMINATED
FOR “MONEYBALL.” AND I WAS LIKE, “I’M NOT GONNA
GO UP TO HIM AND BOTHER HIM,” ‘CAUSE–‘CAUSE HE’S MY HERO. HE’S MY ACTUAL CREATIVE HERO. HE–“GOODFELLAS” IS THE REASON I DEDICATED MY LIFE
TO MAKING FILMS. AND HE–I WAS SITTING
RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. SAID, “I’M NOT GONNA BOTHER HIM.
I’M NOT GONNA BOTHER HIM.” AND I WENT UP,
AND I WAS JUST LIKE, “‘GOODFELLAS’ IS THE BEST.” THAT’S WHAT I SAID, AND IT WAS– IT WAS REALLY EMBARRASSING. I JUST RAN BACK AROUND
TO MY SEAT AND SAT THERE, AND I WAS LIKE,
“NO! WHY DID I DO THAT?” AND THEN ABOUT TWO WEEKS LATER,
I GOT A CALL FROM MY AGENT SAYING I WAS
AT THE BOTTOM OF A LIST OF FAR BETTER
AND MORE ACCOMPLISHED ACTORS TO STAR OPPOSITE LEO
IN “WOLF OF WALL STREET.” – THAT’S NICE OF YOUR AGENT
TO SAY THAT TO YOU. – YEAH, SHE–YOU KNOW,
SHE KEEPS ME HUMBLE, YOU KNOW? AND–AND– AND I GO, “OH, MY GOD.”
YOU KNOW. EVEN THAT ALONE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE COOLEST PHONE CALL
I EVER RECEIVED. AND SO I READ THE BOOK
THREE TIMES. I READ THE SCREENPLAY
THREE TIMES. AND THERE HAD BEEN A FEW–
I’D BEEN LUCKY. IF YOU’RE AN ACTOR, YOU HAVE A
MOMENT WHERE YOU READ SOMETHING, AND YOU HAVE TO
PLAY THAT CHARACTER. AND I’VE BEEN REALLY LUCKY
IN MY CAREER THAT IT’S HAPPENED
THREE OR FOUR TIMES. YOU KNOW, WITH “MONEYBALL”
AND “CYRUS” AND “SUPERBAD”
AND THEN THIS. I JUST WAS LIKE, I–
– “CYRUS” WAS GREAT TOO. – THANK YOU.
THAT’S– THANK YOU. I MEAN, I LOVE THAT FILM. AND I KNEW
WHEN I READ THOSE MOVIES, I HAD TO PLAY THIS PERSON. AND THE ONLY PROBLEM
WITH THIS ONE IS, EVERYONE ELSE
MORE FAMOUS THAN ME WANTED TO PLAY HIM AS WELL. AND SO I KNEW I WAS GONNA
GET TO MEET WITH MR. SCORSESE AND LEO
WHO WAS PRODUCING THE MOVIE AND STARRING IN IT. WE HAPPENED TO BE IN MEXICO
PROMOTING DIFFERENT FILMS. AND I ASKED
IF I COULD MEET WITH HIM, AND I SAT HIM DOWN,
AND I TOLD HIM ALL ABOUT DONNIE AND WHAT I THOUGHT HE’D BE LIKE, AND HE SAID,
YOU KNOW, “OH, MY GOSH.” YOU KNOW,
‘CAUSE I DIDN’T STOP TALKING FOR PROBABLY
AN HOUR AND A HALF. AND I WAS LIKE,
“I HAVE TO PLAY THIS GUY. “I DON’T CARE
WHO ELSE GETS THIS PART, “I WILL KILL THEM, AND
THEN I’LL GET TO PLAY THE PART. AND–AND THAT’S THE WAY IT IS.” AND HE CALLED SCORSESE
AND HAD MY BACK. AND I WENT IN THERE,
AND I WAS SO NERVOUS. AND I HADN’T BEEN
TO AN AUDITION IN SIX YEARS, AND MY FIRST ONE BACK
WAS FOR MARTIN SCORSESE. AND THEN I READ FOR HIM, AND I WALKED ALL THE WAY
BACK DOWNTOWN FROM HIS OFFICE. I SAID, “IF ANYTHING ELSE, I GOT TO WORK WITH
MARTIN SCORSESE FOR AN HOUR.” THAT WAS THE COOLEST. AND THEN A MONTH AND A HALF
GOES BY WHERE I’M DYING EVERY DAY ‘CAUSE I HAVEN’T HEARD
ANYTHING BACK, YOU KNOW? AND THEN I’M AT DINNER
IN NEW ORLEANS, AND I GET A PHONE CALL,
AND IT’S LEO, AND HE SAYS, “YOU GOT IT. LET’S GO DO IT.” AND I RAN AROUND SCREAMING AND– THROUGH THE STREETS
OF NEW ORLEANS, AND IT WAS THE BEST MOMENT
OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. IT WAS GREAT. – WOW, THAT’S AMAZING. [cheers and applause] THAT’S AMAZING. THAT’S– THAT’S A GREAT PLACE
TO LEARN THAT YOU GOT IT. ‘CAUSE SCREAMING THROUGH
THE STREETS OF NEW ORLEANS, NO ONE EVEN LOOKS AT YOU. NO ONE EVEN NOTICES. THAT’S WHAT PEOPLE DO
IN NEW ORLEANS. – YES, YOU’RE THE MOST
NORMAL PERSON IF YOU’RE RUNNING
THROUGH THE STREETS SCREAMING. – YEAH, YOU’RE NEXT TO ANOTHER
GUY RUNNING THROUGH THE STREETS. AND YOU WORKED FOR SCALE,
IS THAT RIGHT? – YES, WELL, WHEN I GOT
THAT PHONE CALL THAT NIGHT, THEY SAID
“THEY OFFERED YOU SCALE.” AND I SAID, “I WANT TO
SIGN THE CONTRACT TONIGHT SO LEGALLY
THEY CAN’T CHANGE THEIR MIND.” THAT WAS MY THEORY
THAT I DON’T EVEN WANT THEM TO HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY
TO CHANGE THEIR MIND. I’M SO EXCITED. AND I WOULD HAVE PAID HIM
TO WORK FOR HIM. YOU KNOW, HE–HE’S MY HERO,
YOU KNOW? – IT’S AMA–
YEAH, HE’S A GREAT GUY, AND HE’S A BRILLIANT DIRECTOR,
OBVIOUSLY, BUT HE’S A REALLY FUNNY GUY TOO. HE’S GOT A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR. – HE LOVES DOING BITS, AND HE LOVES BEING
THE STRAIGHT MAN IN BITS, AND HE’S JUST–
HE’S JUST THE BEST. YOU KNOW, I COULDN’T HAVE HAD
HIGHER EXPECTATIONS GOING IN, AND HE EXCEEDED
ALL OF MY EXPECTATIONS PROFESSIONALLY AND PERSONALLY. – AND DID ANYTHING CHANGE
FROM WHEN YOU AUDITIONED? DID YOU KNOW
YOU WERE GONNA DO THE TEETH AND DID YOU KNOW
YOU WERE GONNA– I MEAN, DID YOU ALREADY HAVE THAT CHARACTER THAT YOU ENDED UP
PLAYING AS DONNIE, DID YOU HAVE THAT IN YOUR HEAD
WHEN YOU AUDITIONED? – YEAH, WELL, THE TEETH WERE
IN THE BOOK AND THE SCREENPLAY. IN TERRY WINTER’S SCREENPLAY. AND SANDY POWELL,
THE COSTUME DESIGNER, IS A LEGENDARY, OSCAR-WINNING
COSTUME DESIGNER. SO, YOU KNOW, I NEVER
COLLABORATED THAT CLOSELY ON WHAT A CHARACTER
WOULD LOOK LIKE, YOU KNOW? BUT WITH THE HAIR AND THE TEETH, I WANTED DONNIE
TO LOOK LIKE A LIT MATCH BASICALLY WAS THE IDEA
THAT HE WAS– HIS HAIR’S KIND OF
WILD AND CRAZY AND– AND SANDY POWELL’S SO BRILLIANT. YOU KNOW, WE GOT TO COLLABORATE AND TALK ABOUT
HOW DONNIE WAS A GUY WHO WANTED TO LOOK WASPY
AND UPPER-CRUST, BUT THAT WASN’T
WHO HE WAS, YOU KNOW? AND SO HE’S PUTTING ON A VENEER, AND HE’S LITERALLY
WEARING VENEERS. YOU KNOW, YEAH. – IT’S–SO WHAT WAS
THE HARDEST SCENE FOR YOU? ‘CAUSE I WAS
TALKING TO LEO, HE WAS HERE. AND THE HARDEST SCENE,
OBVIOUSLY, FOR HIM WAS WHEN HE WAS ON QUAALUDES
GOING DOWN THE STAIRS, TRYING TO GET INTO THE CAR.
– YEAH, YEAH. – WHAT WAS THE HARDEST SCENE
FOR YOU TO DO? – THE HARDEST SCENE FOR ME
WAS DIFFERENT. IT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING
SCENE I’VE EVER DONE, BUT MY FAVORITE SCENE
I’VE EVER BEEN IN. IS IF YOU HAVEN’T
SEEN THE MOVIE, EARMUFFS. YOU KNOW, DON’T LISTEN. BUT, UH, THERE’S A SCENE
TOWARDS THE END WHERE HE SLIDES ME A NOTE
THAT SAYS HE’S WEARING A WIRE, AND IT’S BASICALLY
THE END OF OUR FRIENDSHIP. IT’S THE END OF EVERYTHING. IT’S THE END OF EVERYTHING
WE’VE BUILT, OUR LIFESTYLE. AND BECAUSE HE’S WEARING A WIRE, WE HAVE TO HAVE THIS
CONVERSATION ABOUT SOMETHING THAT’S COMPLETELY
NOT WHAT WE’RE FEELING. SO YOU CAN’T SAY THE WORDS
THAT YOU ACTUALLY FEEL, AND YOU HAVE TO
EXPRESS EVERYTHING, ALL THE SADNESS AND PAIN WITHOUT USING ANY WORDS
TO VERIFY THAT. AND IT WAS JUST
AN AMAZING SCENE. AND SINCE LEO IS SO–HE DOESN’T
UNDERSTAND THAT IT’S ACTING. SO HE BEATS THE CRAP OUT OF YOU
FOR SEVEN MONTHS WHEN THE SCENE CALLS FOR IT, AND SINCE I CAN’T
PHYSICALLY BEAT HIM UP BACK ‘CAUSE HE’S BIGGER THAN ME, I HAD TO USE MY BRAIN
TO BEAT HIM UP. AND SO IN THAT SUSHI SCENE,
THE LINE WAS WRITTEN, HE GOES, “TAKE THAT LAST PIECE
OF YELLOWTAIL,” AND I’M SUPPOSED TO EAT IT. AND THE FIRST TAKE, HE GOES, “TAKE THAT LAST PIECE
OF YELLOWTAIL,” AND I GO, “NO, NO, BUDDY,
YOU HAVE IT.” AND HE EATS IT. SO HAD TO EAT, LIKE,
80 PIECES OF RAW YELLOWTAIL THAT NIGHT AS WE SHOT THE SCENE. AND THEN,
BY THE END OF THE NIGHT, HE WAS THROWING UP
INTO A TRASH BIN, AND EVERYONE WAS LIKE, “LEO, ARE YOU OKAY?
ARE YOU OKAY?” AND THE ONLY TWO PEOPLE ON
THE FLOOR LAUGHING HYSTERICALLY WERE MYSELF AND MARTIN SCORSESE. – THAT’S HILARIOUS. AND IT WAS ONE OF THE BETTER
MOMENTS OF THE WHOLE SHOOT. – THAT’S HILARIOUS. – BECAUSE I GOT TO GET MY FRIEND
BACK FOR BEATING ME UP. – GOOD FOR YOU.
THAT’S WHAT HE DESERVES. – YEAH.

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Reader Comments

  1. J T

    I couldn't even imagine anyone but Jonah in that role, can't believe they had a list of other people before him, how insulting! He is one of the best actors of our generation, can't wait to see what he puts out for years to come!!

  2. Adam Ant

    so wait.. he got only paid for scale but was nominated for a freaking Oscar for the movie??? That's amazing.. ha.. I really loved this movie.

  3. PatrickRob82

    Of any celebrity that I admire, he is at the very top of the list of people I'd be afraid to approach. Something about his demeanor makes me feel like anything I said would just irritate him and I'd be crushed to have that kind of interaction with him. I'd probably just giggle and walk away if I ever saw him.

  4. Jacob Farmer

    It’s so awesome that Ellen just lets him talk. So many hosts interrupt and always want to be talking, and she sat quietly and let him tell his stories. She’s so fantastic

  5. Conrad Wolf

    When you see someone talk about things the way he does, with respect, passion, humbleness, intelligence, etc., you can't but wish all the best for them. Good on him!

  6. Jeffrey Cornell

    Hey Jonah you are one of my favorite actors TY for being in that film… bout to watch it right now. Jordan Belfort has a podcast with Joey Diaz on YouTube encase you want an encore of the story.

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