New Paltz’s Giselle Eisenberg has a part in “The Wolf of Wall Street”

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Six-year-old Giselle Eisenberg of New Paltz. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Choosing to be an actor is not for the faint of heart — it may look like nonstop glamour and fun, but in reality it’s a lot of work. And anybody who takes up that life has to have patience and resilience along with talent. And most actors toil away in relative obscurity, happy even to audition for a part from a major player, let alone getting the part.

So when New Paltz’s Giselle Eisenberg auditioned to play the daughter of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Martin Scorsese’s current film The Wolf of Wall Street, it was a big deal. It was an even bigger deal when the six-year-old got the part. After all, she had no previous experience in film or television at the time, with just a Holiday Inn commercial and some print work for Toys “R” Us packaging to her credit.

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Giselle plays the part of four-year-old Skylar Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, which was nominated last week for five Academy Awards. The very graphic, adult-themed film is based on a true story about the rise and fall of a corrupt Wall Street stockbroker, portrayed by DiCaprio, who engages in debauchery and securities fraud during the 1980s and 1990s. Giselle’s character, who is first seen in the movie as a baby portrayed by another girl, is seen primarily in a very intense scene with DiCaprio toward the end of the movie.

Erika Eisenberg, Giselle’s mom, says that everybody connected with the movie was “really wonderful” with her daughter during filming. (DiCaprio even kept the young actress entertained between takes by dancing “Gangnum Style” with her.) But given the intensity of the scene she plays with DiCaprio, was it hard for Giselle to separate the friendly actor she’d bonded with offscreen from the odious character he portrays? “Leo was really sweet about talking to her about it ahead of time,” says Erika.

Giselle adds, “He told me, ‘I’m really a nice guy — I just don’t really play such a nice guy’.”

Not many six-year-olds can say they have photos of themselves with Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio on their mom’s phone, but Giselle seems very grounded about it all, modest and articulate; very fun to talk to.

“She really enjoys the entire process,” says her mom. “She has good instincts and asks really good questions. She’ll ask the director what her character is supposed to be feeling and tell them if she doesn’t understand a line.” Moviemaking is a slow process, Erika acknowledges and initially she had concerns about how Giselle would feel about having to do the multiple takes required. “But she takes direction very well and connects with the other actors and the director. She has the patience for this.”

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