By Keith Staskiewicz
Updated August 09, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

We wouldn’t be the first to point out the similarities between gangsters and bankers: They both have an affinity for suits, run numbers games, and are often expert at dovetailing illegal activity with ”legitimate business.” It’s just that the finance boys tend to focus more on the enterprise part of criminal enterprise. Martin Scorsese’s new film, The Wolf of Wall Street, tells the real-life story of a high- and hard-living stockbroker, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), who made millions of dollars through securities fraud and eventually spent 22 months in jail for it. The director gives us a bird’s-eye view of early-’90s Wall Street excess, replete with yachts, women, and massive cocaine habits.

Of course, playing characters who constantly inhale powder as white as their collars isn’t as easy as it sounds. ”You snort vitamin powder,” says Jonah Hill, who plays Belfort’s partner in crime. ”We would sometimes be snorting this powder all day, and even though it’s not bad for you, you’re still ingesting it into your sinuses. So I probably sounded nasally like I had an actual cocaine problem during the whole shoot. But at least I had plenty of vitamins, so I felt amazing!”

Despite the period accoutrements — tortoiseshell glasses, over-the-shoulder yuppie sweaters, and garish ties — Scorsese’s tale of greed and financial malfeasance offers many parallels to the current economic climate, as well as to some of his star’s more recent films. DiCaprio sees his performance as the capper to an unofficial trilogy that began with the monarchical slave owner in Django Unchained and continued with iconic American dreamer Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby. ”They take place in three different time periods, each separated by about 60 years from the next,” DiCaprio told EW last December. ”But they’re all deeply American stories about wealth and the ways in which these men try to hold on to and achieve that wealth.”

The Wolf of Wall Street

  • Movie
  • R
  • 179 minutes
  • Martin Scorsese