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There are a lot of outrageous antics filling the 180 minutes of Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street. Little people clad in velcro are hurled at targets. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have misadventures with Quaaludes and cocaine. A beautiful blond has her head shaved before a bunch of blood-thirsty stock brokers. But before all this, there's Jordan Belfort's entry into the insanity of Wall Street, bestowed by an especially sleazy suit played by Matthew McConaughey. As Mark Hanna, McConaughey introduces the titular Wolf to the world of insane wealth, loose morals, and hard drugs. He also introduces him to the power of literal chest-thumping and chanting. It's an odd but unforgettable moment that McConaughey took the time to demystify in the clip up top.
On a recent episode of The Graham Norton Show, the Academy Award-nominated McConaughey dropped by to talk Wolf of Wall Street--and presumably Dallas Buyers Club. But the focus of this clip from the British talk show is the devotedly quirky Texan talking about how the chanting and chest-thumping came into the scene. It turns out this was not part of Beflort's controversial memoir that served as the movie's source material. Nor was it an inspiration from celebrated screenwriter Terence Winter, who is up for Best Adapted Screenplay on Oscar night. All that macho mumbling and thumping came courtesy of McConaughey. In fact, it's been part of his personal preparation routine for years.
Asked flat-out "What is the thing you're doing?" McConaughey answered:
"That's something I'll do before scenes to relax myself, get my voice to drop. I've been doing it for a while. But it's just something I do to relax myself, get out of my head. And I was doing it before the scene and then I'd start the scene. We do five takes. I'm happy; Martin's happy. We're about to move on, and before we moved on, Leonardo raised his hand and said, 'Hang on a second. What's that thing you were doing before the scene?' And I told him, and he said, 'What if you put that in the scene.' I was like, 'Yeah, great.'"
With that note, they did at least one more take, and McConaughey not only started with his calming hum and thump, but also invited Leo's Belfort to join in the rhythm. Apparently, Scorsese and his long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker were on board for this unusual addition to the scene, as it made it through to the film's final cut. It's always fascinating to see behind the scenes at how collaborative the creation of a film truly is. Of course, we like to think of movies like The Wolf of Wall Street as definitively Scorsese's, but the truth is there are a lot of voices that go into a film's evolution. The director is just the one who is generally attributed the most say, for better or worse.