Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio is expected to testify in a lawsuit involving the 2013 comedy The Wolf of Wall Street. Andrew Greene, a former associate of Jordan Belfort — the character played by DiCaprio in the movie — has filed the lawsuit against the producers for defamation over the character Nicky “Rugrat” Koskoff, played by P.J. Byrne.
The movie narrates the story of stockbroker Jordan Belfort and his bohemian lifestyle that eventually leads to his financial ruin and arrest. According to Greene, the character of Koskoff, a supporting role in the movie, was based on his life.
The Wolf of Wall Street released on 2013 as a fictionalized narration of the trading accomplishments of Jordan Belfort, who founded the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, before being prosecuted on securities fraud and money laundering charges in 1998.
Leonardo DiCaprio to Testify in ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Libel Trial https://t.co/nAuEayq6L7— John Meredith X (@JohnMeredithX) June 17, 2016
Reportedly, Greene’s legal team have begun the discovery process, deposing director Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Terence Winter to prove that the film “maliciously spread untruths” about Greene. He has filed a $15 million lawsuit against producers over his representation in the movie.
Greene worked at Stratton Oakmont from 1993 to 1996, the firm that was depicted in The Wolf of Wall Street. The film was a box office hit and was chosen for five Oscars, including best picture and best actor for Leonardo DiCaprio in 2014.
Reportedly, Belfort’s Stratton Oakmont at the Wall Street cheated millions of dollars out of clients. Greene, who was one of the directors, has never been implicated in any offence.
The Wolf of Wall Street depicts scenes where Koskoff arranges off-shore money deals for DiCaprio (Jordan Belfort), snorts cocaine, and hires prostitutes — a character bereft of any morality or ethics.
The lawsuit, asking DiCaprio to testify, pointed out that the movie’s portrayal of Greene was false, defamatory, and fundamentally damaging to his professional standing, both as an attorney and as an investment venture capitalist, as well as his personal reputation. He alleged that the film spread false information by portraying him as prostitute-loving and debauched and changed his nickname from “Wigwam” to “Rugrat”.
Nicky Koskoff is the character I think I could best act from Wolf of Wall Street pic.twitter.com/A0j2aZq8Ex— Ty the Science Guy (@lnteIIigence) June 21, 2015
Greene claims he never consented to the use of his characterization in the movie. Earlier, a judge rejected his original claims of defamation, but asked him to amend the objection to malicious libel.
Reportedly, DiCaprio will now be forced to testify in court following claims the film spoiled Greene’s reputation. Meanwhile, his defendants argued that director Scorsese and screenwriter Terence Winter had already given testimony, and that the petitioners have no valid reasons to question DiCaprio since he didn’t write the screenplay nor acted the “Rugrat” part.
Greene’s lawyers, however, argued that DiCaprio who co-produced the movie had a big role in creating the movie and is “aware” of particular issues in the case.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, “At a hearing on Thursday, United States magistrate judge Steven Locke in New York granted Greene’s motion to compel a deposition.” DiCaprio’s testimony may include his production company’s involvement in the film.
It is pertinent to note that last year, lawyers for Paramount Pictures had reasoned that the Koskoff character was a fictional combination of different people in Belfort’s memoir.”They further claimed the film is protected by the First Amendment and the makers did not act with any malice, as required in a defamation case,” the Daily Mail reported.
Moreover, this isn’t the only legal angle involving Leonardo and The Wolf of Wall Street. Reportedly, in April, the U.S. Department of Justice had started investigating Red Granite Pictures to verify whether the company had used shady means to finance the movie.
Will DiCaprio testify, and what could be his stand in Andrew Greene’s case against the movie’s producers? We will wait and see how this lawsuit pans out.
[Photo by Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images]