Pamela Gocobachi
December 30, 2013 AT 12:00 PM EST

The public seems to be torn on Martin Scorsese’s latest film venture, The Wolf of Wall Street. While some are praising the three-hour film, which takes a hard look at American greed, naysayers fear that the film focuses too much on celebrating the shallow lifestyle of convicted stock market manipulator Jordan Belfort.

Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Belfort in the new Scorsese film, however, says that those who believe that The Wolf of Wall Street is condoning such behavior may be misunderstanding the true message of the film.

DiCaprio addressed the criticism surrounding his latest film in a new Q&A with Variety, saying, “I hope people understand we’re not condoning this behavior, that we’re indicting it. The book was a cautionary tale, and if you sit through the film, you’ll realize what we’re saying about these people and this world, because it’s an intoxicating one.”

The actor also praised director Martin Scorsese in the interview for making films that DiCaprio says are both “vital and talked about, and have an element of controversy about them.”

DiCaprio said The Wolf of Wall Street and The Aviator are the two films he’s been most passionate about making.

“People — no matter what their attitude is after seeing the film — should understand this is a film that’s outside the box and is very difficult to get done in this day and age; it almost never happens,” DiCaprio told Variety. “Thank god there are people who have taste for experimental filmmaking at this level and who really want to endorse this type of film because if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t see any types of films like this.”

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