Matthew McConaughey had a surprising but memorable cameo in the Martin Scorsese film Wolf of Wall Street. But the actor admitted that it was an idea he received from Leonardo DiCaprio that helped bring the best out of his role.
McConaughey was one of many highlights that made Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street such an entertaining picture to audiences. Even with his limited screen time, McConaughey still managed to leave moviegoers with a strong impression. But his most talked-about performance in the film was born out of a hilarious conversation that he had with DiCaprio.
“I stole some things from Leo,” McConaughey once told Rolling Stone. “He told me a joke when we first met and I stole it. That whole ‘fugazi’ bit. He told me about it, and I said, ‘I’m going to mispronounce that for the fun of it.’ Everybody is always talking about that scene, and I made that decision just seconds before we shot it.”
For McConaughey, that kind of flexibility and trust was what made the Scorsese feature such an enjoyable time.
“In my mind, the perfect set is when everybody is free enough, creatively, to steal from one another. Even better, when you steal from someone and then you give it back to them in the scene,” he said.
But as loose as the collaboration was, McConaughey admitted he was anxious at the idea of working with Scorsese and DiCaprio for the first time.
“Working with Scorsese and Leo is pretty intimidating – they’ve worked together before and have that relationship. I studied Martin’s work in film school, but when I first went to meet him, I admit – I had some nerves. But working with Marty was quite musical,” McConaughey said.
McConaughey didn’t just steal from DiCaprio to perfect his Wolf scene. A natural habit of his also helped create the iconic moment. In his lunch sequence with DiCaprio, McConaughey is seen thumping his chest while humming in front of the co-star. It was a performance that McConaughey came up with on the spot thanks to Scorsese.
“It was a relaxation technique, a way to get out of my head,” McConaughey once told Independent. “I was doing that before each take [on The Wolf of Wall Street] to relax and then we’d yell ‘action’ and I would start the scene and I’d stop doing it,” he said.
Scorsese then asked McConaughey about his intriguing humming habit.
“I explained what I just explained to you and he goes ‘Well you wanna try that in the scene?’ and I said ‘sure.’ So the next take I just did it at the beginning of the scene, but I remember thinking, ‘well, now do it at the end of the conversation to see if the young turk – who you just taught what Wall Street is all about – see if he’s on the same frequency, see if he gets it,’ and so we ended up bookending the scene with it and that was the take we used,” he said.
McConaughey has also applied his Wolf improvisation to real life as well. According to Contact Music, the Oscar-winner gave a pep talk to his football team at the University of Texas.
“Last night I was thinking about what I do and what you do, and I ask myself this question all the time – ‘Why do I do what I do? Why I am an actor?’ And I was gonna ask you all – ‘Why do you play football?’… Ask yourself tonight when you look in the mirror, ‘Why do I play this game?’… At the end of the day every single one of you gotta be playing for just one person [yourself],” McConaughey reportedly told his team.
McConaughey then reportedly led the team while pumping his chest the same way he did with DiCaprio in Wolf.