Martin Scorsese’s blockbuster The Wolf of Wall Street became an instant hit following its release in 2013. The biopic follows the rollercoaster life of Wall Street stockbroker Jordan Belfort as he cheats his way to a cash flow of titanic proportions, leaving behind a trail of cocaine, quaaludes and ladies of the night. Taking the lead role, Leonardo DiCaprio was joined by an impressive ensemble, including Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill and Jon Bernthal.
In January 2014, shortly after the film was released, Jonah Hill revealed that he was paid the small fee of $60,000 (£36k) for his role in The Wolf of Wall Street. This would be a surprisingly low fee for an extra, let alone one of the prominent supporting roles.
Meanwhile, Hill’s co-star DiCaprio, who also produced the film, earned approximately $10 million (£6.2m). So why was Jonah happy to settle for such a tiny payout?
During an appearance on The Howard Stern Show in 2014, Hill explained that he was paid the $60,000 “before commissions and taxes”. He added: “They gave me the lowest amount of money possible.”
Hill explained that he agreed to take the low pay because he was desperate to work with legendary director Martin Scorsese. “That was their offer, and I said, ‘I will sign the paper tonight. Fax them the papers tonight. I want to sign them tonight before they change their mind. I want to sign them before I go to sleep tonight so they legally can’t change their mind’.”
“I would sell my house and give him all my money to work for him,” he added assertively. “This isn’t what you make money for. You do 22 Jump Street or you do other things, and you can pay your rent. I would have done anything in the world. I would do it again in a second. This isn’t about money. You should do things that you care about.”
Speaking on Saturday Night Live, Hill revealed how he managed to reach Scorsese to discuss the role. “I had got the opportunity to meet with Leo first and give him an impassioned argument as to why I had to play the part, and then he was supportive, luckily. Then I went to New York, and I said, ‘well, can I show Scorsese what I want to do instead of just begging him to do the part.’ Then I got to read with him, and I was lucky enough to get the part.”
In an interview with Yahoo Movies around the time of the film’s premiere, Hill also revealed that he hated his character in the movie, Donnie. “They say you’re not supposed to judge the character at all, and I tried my hardest, but I couldn’t really find that much I really liked about Donnie. I just didn’t like the way that Donnie treated people, that was the thing I had the hardest time with.”
Watch one of Jonah Hill’s most memorable scenes from the film below.