Matthew McConaughey Wrote an Encyclopedia For His ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Character

Matthew McConaughey has been sharing “McConaughey Takes” on his social media. In these videos, the actor discusses some of his most famous roles. On April 20, he discussed his role in The Wolf of Wall Street. He only has a small role in the film, but it was memorable as he pounds his chest over lunch with Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Matthew Mcconaughey and Leonardo DiCaprio
L-R: Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey | Paramount Pictures

Even for a relatively brief role, McConaughey developed a wealth of background. Belfort was a fraudulent ’80s stockbroker and Mark Hanna (McConaughey) set him in motion. Watch the video below or read the highlights of McConaughey’s take on The Wolf of Wall Street

Matthew McConaughey sets the scene for ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

McConaughey would win an Oscar for his role in Dallas Buyers Club in 2013, the same year The Wolf of Wall Street came out. The former role required him to lose nearly 50 pounds to play Ron Woodroof, and HIV positive man who helped other patients get medication in the ’80s.. 

L-R: Joe Pesci,Jonah Hill,Martin Scorsese and Matthew McConaughey | Dave Allocca/Starpix

“I was about 30 pounds into losing all the weight for Dallas Buyers Club when I got the call from Martin Scorsese to come in for a couple days and play this guy, Mark Hanna who’s sort of the mentor to Leonardo’s Belfort character,” McConaughey said in his video. “It’s a scene in a restaurant where I’m giving him the lay of the land of what this business is and what it’s not.”

Matthew McConaughey discovered an encyclopedia on Mark Hanna

Many of McConaughey’s characters have memorable lines, like “I get older, they stay the same age” in Dazed and Confused or “All right all right all right” in everything. There’s more to a memorable line than just quoting it though.

“They had this one line that was already written in the script,” McConaughey continued in his video. “I call it a launchpad line. I had one in Dazed and Confused, I had one that Steven Soderbergh gave me in Magic Mike. Sometimes you get a line in a script that the imagination just soars and I can just fly with it. Unpack that line. If this character means that, then there’s an encyclopedia on this man.”

Wolf of Wall Street Luncheon
L-R: Matthew McConaughey, Margot Robbie, Jonah Hill and Cristin Milioti | Paramount Pictures

Here’s the line that opened up an encyclopedia for Mark Hanna in The Wolf of Wall Street. 

“That line with Mark Hanna was he’s explaining the secret of this business to Leonardo’s character,” McConaughey said. “He says, ‘The secret is cocaine and hookers.’ I just read that and I was like if this guy really believes that, who the hell is this guy? So I started writing that encyclopedia.”

The ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ encyclopedia that Matthew McConaughey wrote

McConaughey did as much research and backstory on Mark Hanna as he would if he was playing main character in a film. That’s why his scene is so memorable in The Wolf of Wall Street.

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey | Jim Spellman/WireImage

I started talking to all these different brokers that were of that time. I started writing a lot of things down and really what’s on screen turned out to be a rap. Leonardo teed me up but Martin Scorsese let me run. I don’t think Martin Scorsese gave me any direction in English. He almost talked to me musically. Martin Scorsese loves funny. He would just make these sounds and musical beat sounds so he just let me go and I just went off and did what you see in the movie.

Matthew McConaughey, “McConaughey Takes” 4/20/2020

Leonardo DiCaprio asked him to hum for the movie

What most Wolf of Wall Street fans remember about that scene is McConaughey pounding his chest and leading DiCaprio in a hum. 

“That is something that I’ll do not only in this film, I’ll do it before scenes in a lot of films,” McConaughey explained. “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. It also keeps my voice low and keeps my instrument loose. I was doing that before every take.”

DiCaprio saw McConaughey doing that and thought it would work for the scene.

Leonardo leans over and goes, ‘What’s that thing you’re doing before the scene?’ I told him it’s a relaxation technique. He’s like, ‘what if you put that in the scene?’ We rolled and I did it in the beginning, then got into my sales pitch and I didn’t know if I was going to do it again. I got to the end and I said you know what, musically it would be great to bookend the scene with that because I start off with the beat and then I give him the rap of what it is to be a broker in this business and what it is not. I said if I can then at the end invite him in on the beat, then it’ll be like now you got it. So I did it. It was all one take. 

Matthew McConaughey, “McConaughey Takes” 4/20/2020