The name Larry Moss is certainly not as famous as his clients’ — including Hilary Swank, Helen Hunt, Jim Carrey, Tobey Maguire, and Leonardio DiCaprio — but as an acting coach he’s influenced their award-winning performances. In a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, he spoke about what advice he gave DiCaprio in particular when he was starring as real-life figures Howard Hughes in The Aviator and Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street.
Moss points out that much of DiCaprio’s characterization of eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes came down to mastering Hughes’ curious voice patterns. Moss explains, “We listened to a lot of audio of Howard Hughes talking, and he had about three notes in his voice, except when he was with somebody that he trusted, then he would have three more notes. He was very monotone. So [we were] finding those particular specificities of vocal melody and points of view and the pivotal event in the character’s life that propels them into the story.”
However, when it came to DiCaprio’s portrayal of crooked stockbroker Jordan Belfort, Moss told DiCaprio to go against common acting advice about being understated. He reveals, “They say you have to be subtle in film; well, that’s bullshit. Sometimes people aren’t subtle. We said, ‘He’s a dick, but my God, he’s having so much fun.’ The episode with the quaalude — he talked a great deal with Jordan as well as the medical people about what does a brain do under the drug. Both Marty [Scorsese] and Leo are working toward mastery in each movie, a passion for the work that is beyond being famous or powerful.”