Leonardo DiCaprio targeted in Wolf of Wall Street lawsuit over not researching character

Ben Arnold
DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street (Credit: Paramount)

A stockbroker portrayed in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is calling into question Leonardo DiCaprio’s character research.

Andrew Greene, who worked for DiCaprio’s character Jordan Belfort at his firm Stratton Oakmont, is pursuing legal recourse over his depiction in the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

He believes that he was the basis for the character Nicky ‘Rugrat’ Koskoff in the film, ‘portrayed as a criminal, drug user, degenerate, depraved, and/or devoid of any morality or ethics’, and as such he has been defamed.

Nicky Koskoff was played by P. J. Byrne in the 2013 movie.

A previous case brought by Greene for invasion of his privacy was thrown out by a court in 2015, but the defamation case still appears to be very much alive.

On Monday this week, Greene provided evidence of his claims, which included legal depositions taken from Scorsese, DiCaprio and the film’s screenwriter Terence Winter in the course of the ongoing case, and asserted that sufficient research into the people being portrayed was not undertaken.

P.J. Byrne as Nicky ‘Rugrat’ Koskoff (Credit: Paramount)

“While a defendant’s mere failure to investigate is not sufficient to satisfy reckless disregard [of the truth], its failure [to] properly research and investigate published assertions within the four categories of libel per se, that it has a reasonable belief or opportunity to research, is clear and convincing evidence of reckless disregard,” said Greene.

He goes on to cite a court deposition from DiCaprio, who when asked about his research for the film, replied: “I took a tour of Wall Street. I read the book, observed people in New York that were randomly in that business; other than that, I don’t recall.”

Scorsese also said he never spoke to Jordan Belfort prior to making the movie, while Winter added: “Those characters existed to tell Jordan’s story. So if we had to combine one person into three in order to tell Jordan’s story, then that was fine. It didn’t matter to us if we needed to switch – swap out characters, change their names, change their characteristics or behavior.”

Picking up on what Winter said, Greene adds: “Screenwriter Terence Winter testified during his deposition very clearly that factual accuracy was not important to Defendants in developing the script and film production.

“The only concern Defendants had was to portray the mania of Jordan Belfort’s point-of-view. As Mr. Winter succinctly described in his deposition, vetting and research were simply not a concern. As a result of the foregoing, it is clear that Defendants engaged in reckless disregard for the truth in producing the subject film.”

The case continues.

It’s just the latest woe for the 2013 movie.

The company which funded the film, Red Granite Pictures, has had to pay $60 million in a settlement over claims it used money syphoned from a state investment fund in Malaysia.

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