Matthew McConaughey explains the origins of his chest thumping in that Wolf of Wall Street scene

'It’s a different tune that I’m humming or beating on my chest for each character'

Christopher Hooton
Wednesday 01 February 2017 11:48
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Matthew McConaughey talks about famous 'chest beat' from Wold of Wall Street

We sat down with Matthew McConaughey for the first episode of our new podcast Kernels this week, discussing his unique and charismatic approach to acting and his new film Gold. We also found time to bring up that lunch scene with DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street, because, let’s face it, it’s just brilliant and iconic.

McConaughey’s boss character uses it to test DiCaprio’s newbie completely out of the blue, and unsurprisingly it wasn’t in the script.

“It was a relaxation technique, a way to get out of my head,” McConaughey recalled. “I was doing that before each take [on The Wolf of Wall Street] to relax and then we’d yell “action” and I would start the scene and I’d stop doing it.”

So how did it end up being part of the scene?

“We were done for the day - we’d done five takes, Martin Scorsese was happy, I was happy, Leonardo was happy and we were moving on and it was Leonardo’s idea, he goes. “Hang on a second.” and he asked me, “what were you doing before the take?”

“I explained what I just explained to you and he goes “Well you wanna try that in the scene?” and I said “sure.” So the next take I just did it at the beginning of the scene, but I remember thinking, ‘well, now do it at the end of the conversation to see if the young turk - who you just taught what Wall Street is all about - see if he’s on the same frequency, see if he gets it,’ and so we ended up bookending the scene with it and that was the take we used.”

Thus Matthew’s personal relaxation technique became a piece of pop culture. But does he still do it now it’s not so secret?

“Oh I still do it!” he assured me. “But it’s a different tune that I’m humming or beating on my chest for each character.”

And where do they come from?

“They come from the soundtrack of my mind on what the tone and rhythm of the character is.”

You can listen to the podcast (in which Matthew is consistently interesting) in full here.

Gold opens in UK cinemas 3 February.

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