Most stoners know that the legendary Tommy Chong was sentenced to 9 months in federal prison for selling drug paraphernalia. But what many stoners don’t realize is that Tommy Chong’s cellmate was Jordan Belfort, the infamous New York stockbroker who ran a corrupt Wall Street firm in the 1990s.
While incarcerated Chong encouraged Belfort to write down his memoirs which evolved into the Academy-Award nominated film; The Wolf of Wall Street.
“Every chance I got I would sit and write,” Chong told the Canadian magazine Macleans. “Jordan got curious and wanted to know what I was doing, and I told him I was writing a book, and he said, “I’m gonna write.” So he started kind of emulating me—every night, we’d sit together, he’d write his pages and I’d write my pages.”
“After a while he showed me what he had written, and I knew instinctively he had a lot more to offer than what he showed me. I told him, “Honestly, you haven’t really written anything.” He had been working on it for a couple of weeks so he was really pissed off. He snatched the papers back, and I said, “No, you’ve got to write those stories you’ve been telling me at night. Your real life is much more exciting than any kind of imaginary story you could come up with.”
Apparently, Chong was right, The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese is up for like five Academy Awards including Best Adapted Screenplay. Scorsese is up for Best Director. The film’s star, Leonardo DiCaprio could win his first Oscar—dude’s been nominated like 5 times but has yet to walk away with a li’l gold statue. Jonah Hill, who’s played a stoner in a ton of movies, is up for Best Supporting Actor, and the film, despite receiving some flack for its moral ambiguity, sexual content and presence of drugs is up for Best Picture.
What happened to Chong’s prison memoirs? They were also transformed into a film. a/k/a Tommy Chong, written and directed by Josh Gilbert, came out in 2006. The movie features appearances by Bill Maher and Jay Leno, who both express support for Chong and outrage over how the feds handled the incident. Among several awards, it won Best Documentary at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival and scored an Audience Award; Best Documentary at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival.
Interestingly, the infamous stoner and the infamous Wolf of Wall Street have remained buds ever since their time together as cellmates at California’s Taft Correctional Institution.
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