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Matthew McConaughey Looks Back at the Acting Ritual That Became ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Chant

One of the most memorable scenes in the Martin Scorsese movie was a happy accident.

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/Shutterstock (3659754c)Matthew McConaugheyThe Wolf of Wall Street - Jan 2014

“The Wolf of Wall Street”

Moviestore/Shutterstock

Actor Matthew McConaughey has started a weekly quarantine video series on Twitter entitled “McConaughey Takes” in which he reexamines a signature role in his filmography; this week, the Oscar winner’s attention turned to his memorable supporting turn in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street.” McConaughey has one significant scene in the film where his character, Mark Hanna, has a lunch meeting with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort. The scene became one of the breakout moments in the film’s nearly three-hour running time, thanks in large part to McConaughey’s firecracker performance.

“They had this one line that was written, and I call it a launchpad line,” McConaughey said, “I had one in ‘Dazed and Confused’ and I had one in ‘Magic Mike.’ Sometimes you get a line in a script and the imagination just soars. If you can unpack that line, if this character means that, then there’s an encyclopedia on this character. That line with Mark Hanna is, he’s explaining the secret of his business to Leonardo’s character and he says, ‘The secret is cocaine and hookers.’ I just read that and said, ‘If this guy really believes that, then who the hell is this guy?'”

McConaughey’s scene was made all the more memorable for a chant his character does while pounding his chest. The scene begins and ends with the chant, but it’s not something Scorsese or “Wolf of Wall Street” writer Terence Winter added to the screenplay. The chant is actually an acting ritual McConaughey had been using for years before filming scenes in his films. DiCaprio observed his co-star chanting before takes and recognized that it could be gold in the context of the movie and his character.

“The actual chant, that is something I’ll do not only in this film but before scenes in a lot of films,” McConaughey said. “I’ll come up with a different tune and it’s a relaxation tool for me. It’s musical, so it gets me out of my head because I don’t want to be thinking as an actor, I want to be doing. I was doing it before every take and then on ‘action,’ I’d go to do the scene. It keeps my voice low and my instrument loose. We did five takes and we have the scene, Martin is ready to move on and I’m good. As we’re packing up to go onto another scene, Leonardo goes, ‘What’s that thing you’re doing before the scene? What if we put that in the scene?'”

Scorsese, DiCaprio, and McConaughey shot the scene again with the chant in it and they nailed it on the first try. Watch McConaughey relive his “Wolf of Wall Street” performance in the video below.

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