"The Wolf of Wall Street" could see a bullish year at the Oscars. Leonardo DiCaprio stars in the drug-fueled, big-screen biography of Jordan Belfort. He enjoyed the good life while ripping off investors, but his spectacular fall included a prison stint. DiCaprio has already won a Golden Globe and snagged an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Wall Street high-roller Belfort.
"Entertainment Tonight" co-host Nancy O'Dell caught up with the real Jordan Belfort. The film revels in the excesses of Belfort's meteoric rise to power and riches and his dramatic fall. Belfort told O’Dell he watched the film with mixed emotions as DiCaprio received an Oscar nomination for portraying his life.
"I wish he played me as if I was Jonas Salk and that was the character that had done wonderful things so it's sort of bittersweet," he said. "A little bit because many of the things that the character did - I always say the character because it wasn't all me - some of it was fictionalized but a lot of the actions that are real, what I did do, I'm not proud of.”
Belfort says he is no longer the man portrayed in the movie. He says he's turned his life around making an honest living as a motivational speaker. DiCaprio even appears in a promotional online video touting Belfort's services.
“I guess I can say I'm proud that I was able to turn my life around,” said Belfort. “And I'm amazed at how somehow this has happened. Like this movie. I just can't believe it but it's weird, it's a bittersweet situation.”
Yet, Belfort still has his critics. He and his firm lied to investors, bilking them of millions of dollars. Former Federal Prosecutor Joel Cohen led case against Belfort.
“Has he learned that he hurt people and he needs to make amends? He clearly didn't learn,” said Cohen. “His books, evidence absolutely no remorse, no sense of - that victims really suffered.”
In interviews, Belfort admits he never even met any of his victims in person, but he insists that no one lost their life savings.“It's just not true, it's a fallacy. We were calling wealthy people. Now I can't speak for what happened after 1995 - I can't speak to that because I left the firm, it was operated for another few years - but, when I was there, we were calling very wealthy people and you weren't losing people's life savings, that wasn't the model,” he said. “That doesn't make it any better. So, a few people lost money, that's bad enough, but we weren't taking people's life savings."