Leonardo di Caprio, the Oscar winning actor who starred in the 2013 Oscar nominated film The Wolf of Wall Street has been ordered by a New York state judge to testify in a libel case which has arisen as a result of the film. The film was based on the memoir of Jordan Belfort, a former stock broker who committed fraud during his time on Wall Street. Now, a former colleague and childhood friend of Belfort’s, Andrew Greene is seeking millions of dollars in damages from Paramount Pictures, the studio behind the film as a result of their wrongful portrayal of him in the movie.
Greene’s stance is that the film portrayed him in a negative light in the guise of the character Nicky Koskoff, who is shown as a ‘criminal, a drug user and a degenerate’ according to the lawsuit. The defence argues however, that the character of Koskoff is merely a composite character created from a number of characters depicted in Belfort’s book.
Andrew Greene first made his case in February 2014, the year after the film was released, however, judge Joanna Seybert dismissed a number of his claims. The one that she ruled may have traction was that of libel. She noted, however, that at the time the lawsuit was filed it merely claimed that the defendants acted with ‘mere negligence’ in a case where gross negligence would be required for the claim to be upheld. Arising from this Greene and his legal team have pressed on with an amended claim.
On the 16th June, Judge Steven Locke, determined that Leonardo di Caprio, who played the main character of Jordan Belfort, would be required to testify in his capacity as producer of the film. Di Caprio’s legal team have argued that this should not be necessary as the testimonies of both the director, Martin Scorsese and screenwriter, Terence Winter should be sufficient. They claim that he had a limited role in the writing and development of the script, asserting that his knowledge of the process which Scorsese and Winter embarked upon would be ‘too limited to justify the burden of deposition’ on the actor.
The film which had a hefty budget, took in over $18,360,000 in its first weekend in the United States alone. Greene is seeking $15 million in damages given that the scenes which portray the character he claims resembles him ‘were false, defamatory, and fundamentally injurious to Mr Greene’s professional reputation, both as an attorney and as an investment banker / venture capitalist’.
Despite Leonardo di Caprio’s best attempts to stay out of the situation, he is now being forced to be involved. Mr. Greene’s lawyers have offered to meet the actor in L.A. to accommodate his busy schedule while the Judge Locke says the meeting should take place ‘at a reasonable time and place to be agreed by the parties’.
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