As the blond, blue-eyed icon for millions of teenage girls and more than a few boys everywhere, Leonardo DiCaprio emerged from relative television obscurity to become perhaps the hottest under-30 actor of the 1990s. After leading roles in William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet and James Cameron's Titanic, the actor became a phenomenon, spawning legions of websites and an entire industry built around his name. Born in the town that would later make him famous, DiCaprio came into the world on November 11, 1974, in Hollywood, CA. The son of a German immigrant mother and an underground comic book artist father who separated shortly after his birth, DiCaprio was raised by both of his parents, who encouraged his early interest in acting. At the age of two and a half, the fledgling performer had his first brush with notoriety and workplace ethics when he was kicked off the set of Romper Room for what the show's network deemed "uncontrollable behavior." After this rather inauspicious start to his career, DiCaprio began to hone his skills -- and, presumably, his professional behavior -- with summer courses in performance art while he was in elementary school. He also joined the Mud People, an avant-garde theater group, with which he performed in Los Angeles, earning the title of "The Littlest Mud Person."
In high school, DiCaprio acted in his first real play and began doing commercials, educational films, and the occasional stint on the Saturday morning show The New Lassie. In 1990, after securing his first full-time agent at the age of 15, DiCaprio landed a role as a teenage alcoholic on the daytime drama Santa Barbara. He also continued to appear on other TV shows, such as The Outsiders and Parenthood, and made his film debut in the 1991 horror film Critters 3. The actor got the first of many big breaks with a recurring role on the weekly sitcom Growing Pains. His portrayal of a homeless boy won him sufficient notice to get him an audition for Michael Caton-Jones' upcoming screen adaptation of Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life. DiCaprio won the film's title role after beating out 400 other young actors and it proved to be his career breakthrough. The 1993 film, and DiCaprio's performance, won raves and the actor further increased the adulation surrounding him when, later that year, he played Johnny Depp's mentally retarded younger brother in Lasse Hallström's What's Eating Gilbert Grape. DiCaprio won an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance, and at the tender age of 19, found himself being hailed as an actor to watch.
Subsequent roles in three 1995 films, Sam Raimi's Western The Quick and the Dead; Total Eclipse, in which he played the bisexual poet Rimbaud; and The Basketball Diaries, in which he starred as a struggling junkie, all put the actor in the limelight, but it wasn't until the following year that he became a bona fide star. This transition was made possible by his portrayal of Romeo in the hugely popular William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet opposite Claire Danes. The success of the film gave DiCaprio international fame, many lucrative opportunities, and a slew of comparisons to actors such as James Dean. After starring with Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, and Robert DeNiro (his father in This Boy's Life) in Marvin's Room (1996), DiCaprio was catapulted into the stratosphere of international fame with his starring role in James Cameron's epic about a big boat and a bigger piece of ice. Starring opposite Kate Winslet in the 1997 smash Titanic, DiCaprio got to be part of film history, as, in addition to being the highest-grossing movie ever, the film garnered 14 Oscar nominations, winning 11, including Best Picture and Best Director. DiCaprio's much discussed exclusion from the nominations did nothing to hurt his popularity, and somewhat ironically, he next chose to parody his own celebrity with an appearance in Woody Allen's Celebrity (1998) as a badly behaved movie star.
After displaying his nastier side, he won back the hearts of teens everywhere with his title role in the same year's swashbuckler The Man in the Iron Mask. The film allowed him to explore his good and bad side, as well as the perils of bad wigs, playing twins alongside such older and well-respected personages as Jeremy Irons, Gabriel Byrne, John Malkovich, and Gérard Depardieu. Following the commercial success of the film, DiCaprio went in a completely different direction, with a lead role in Danny Boyle's screen adaptation of Alex Garland's novel The Beach. The film met with eager anticipation from practically its first day of shooting, as Leonardo fans everywhere waited with bated breath to see what kind of glittering impression their golden child would next make on the film world. Though the answer was a resounding silence in regards to that film, an undaunted DiCaprio pushed forward with an appearance in the small independent film Don's Plum (2001). Cast alongside future Spider-Man Tobey Maguire, the film followed a rambling group of young adults as they made their way through the city streets in search of a good time. Drawing fairly lukewarm reviews overseas, the obscure film would ultimately be relegated to a curiousity for stateside audiences as DiCaprio and Maguire sued to prevent a U.S. release of the film. Subsequently pushing forward with director Martin Scorsese for the epic Gangs of New York (2002), DiCaprio was cast as the protagonist in the tale of gangland violence in early America. Long marred in rumors of disagreement between director Scorsese and producer Harvey Weinstein regarding the film's running time, the film that was originally to be released in December of 2001 was finally delivered to audiences two-years-later to the month.
As if Scorsese's massive crime epic wasn't quite enough to give audiences their fill of DiCaprio, moviegoers would get yet another healthy dose of the tireless actor over the holidays with the release of Steven Spielberg's Catch Me if You Can (2002). A decidedly lighthearted effort from the director who had recently labored on such high-concept /sci-fi films as A.I. (2001) and Minority Report (2002), Catch Me if You Can told the true-life tale of Frank Abagnale, Jr., a scam artist so effective that he eluded authorities while assuming a number of high-profile false identities and racking-up over $2.5 million in fraudulent checks while jet-setting in twenty-six countries.
DiCaprio helps launch clean water campaign
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio helped environmentalists launch an international campaign to draw attention to the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who don't have access to clean water.
"We are here to help raise awareness about what is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today - the lack of clean water for billions of people around the world," DiCaprio said Tuesday, speaking on World Water Day at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco with Global Green USA president Matt Petersen.
DiCaprio, who earned a best-actor nomination this year for playing Howard Hughes in The Aviator, signed a petition that calls on President George W. Bush and other government leaders to commit to a legally binding United Nations treaty declaring clean water a basic human right.
DiCaprio screened a short film he helped produce that highlights the need to conserve the world's limited supply of fresh water and provide greater access to the more than 1.2 billion people without clean water.
The film, called Water Planet, will be distributed starting next month on the Internet, at film festivals and to television stations and schools to educate the public about what DiCaprio calls the "growing global water crisis."
About 2.5 billion people worldwide lack water sanitation services, and five million people die from waterborne diseases each year, according to Global Green USA.
What's eating Leo?
With The Aviator, Leonardo DiCaprio has taken one step closer to being a leading man. But, as Simon Hattenstone discovers, there is still a bit of the reluctant teenager about him.
When Leonardo DiCaprio emerged in the early 1990s, he seemed a natural successor to De Niro and Pacino, Brando and Dean. Still an adolescent, years away from his first shave, he looked as if he was going to be the great American actor of the next generation. In films such as This Boy's Life, The Basketball Diaries, What's Eating Gilbert Grape and Romeo and Juliet, he showed a maturity beyond his years - he could play vulnerable and tender, psychopathic and damaged. He portrayed junkies and gay French poets and autistics, he flipped and wept and snot-gobbled in a way that suggested both a total immersion in his art, and a precocious knowledge of life.
Then something strange happened. He starred in the most successful film ever, Titanic, and he became a different actor. In Titanic, The Man in the Iron Mask and The Beach he went commercial, played safe and pretty, didn't give anything of himself. He turned into something the movies hadn't seen for years, perhaps had never seen to this extent - a teen idol, a poster boy, Hollywood's version of Donny Osmond or David Cassidy. By this stage he was in his mid-20s, but he looked just the same.
Now he is well into the third stage of his career. The comeback started in 2002 with the release of Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York and Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can. The leading boy was turning himself into the leading man. The choice of directors suggested a new pragmatic DiCaprio trying to win back edgy credibility with Scorsese while keeping the mass market happy with Spielberg. In the Spielberg film, playing a professional hoaxer, a boy-man with no true identity, he was fine. (Even in his late 20s, he's still convincing as a kid masquerading as an adult.) In the Scorsese, playing a man of substance, he was woeful.
Now at the fag end of 2004 he's back with his biggest role. In Scorsese's The Aviator he plays inspirational, troubled multimillionaire Howard Hughes. DiCaprio initiated the project when he read a biography of Hughes. He saw him as a flawed American hero, and for the past eight years he has developed the idea, first with Michael Mann and eventually with Scorsese.
More than a decade on from his film debut, and now 30 years old, DiCaprio is a little broader but largely unchanged. He dresses conventionally, his chin is still wispy, and, despite his surprisingly small eyes, he's as pretty as ever.
He's talking about Hughes, and the joy of playing a "multi-dimensional fascinating man". Hughes was certainly that - film producer, inventor, record-breaking pilot, recluse. Like so many Hollywood actors, DiCaprio is happier talking about his character than himself. He lists Hughes' many attributes, and calls him the greatest Casanova of his time, but doesn't mention the fact that he was as fond of seducing men as women (as, indeed, the film doesn't). "He made a laundry list of all the things he had to accomplish and he fulfilled all his dreams."
Did DiCaprio make such a laundry list when he was a child? "No, I never did." He says that as a child he didn't even realise he could make a living from acting. "I lived in Hollywood and, ironically, I didn't know you could just go out and get an agent and go on auditions and try and become an actor, I thought it was like a Masonic thing, like a blood line you had to belong to - until I was 13. Then I realised what you had to do. It is the one thing I know I want to do for the rest of my life." By 13 he was starring in commercials, by 15 he headed up a TV series and by 19 he had starred in This Boy's Life with De Niro and had an Oscar nomination for What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
I tell him I saw a recent quote in which he said he wanted to make a stash of money so that, ultimately, he could use it to help, in his own little way, to improve the world. "Right!" he says. "Right! Well hopefully some day I can do that but I'm going to do all that by being an actor."
And what is it in the world that he would like to put right?
"I dunno. Well, let's see where the world is 20-30 years from now." What one thing would he like to fix now? "Well, you know I do work a lot on environmental issues and I've been pretty heavily involved in getting the word out about issues like global warming. I did a documentary when I interviewed President Clinton in the late 90s, and I also went out and campaigned for John Kerry because I felt he was a much better environmentalist than George Bush was."
So many people despise everything Bush stands for, I say. He smiles noncommitally. How does he feel about him? "Erm, ultimately now it's hard to talk about because the people have spoken and we have to kind of make the best of it."
He answers politely, if slightly sullenly. He looks to the floor as he bats a question away. He uhms and ahs as he thinks through the political implications of an answer. It is as if he sees every question as a threat and an intrusion, and weighs up every potential answer in the form of tomorrow's headline.
So many people have the same reaction when I tell them I'm going to see DiCaprio - ask him why he's not made a good film since Gilbert Grape. I'm desperate to get a reaction out of him by now, so decide not to phrase it as politely as I probably should. I ask him if I can be honest.
He leans forwards. "Sure, yeah, why not?"
OK, I'm being really honest now, and I tell him I love those early films but think those from his middle period were a bag of shite. He grins. A big, genuine grin. I think, we're going to get on now. I've seen him say pretty much the same thing before. So he'd agree with that assessment? "No, I would not be able to agree with that," he deadpans. Really? "The early ones are very special to me. But if you're asking me to critique or put down some of the movies I've done, I'm not comfortable with doing that because there are so many other people involved and just for the sake of an interview I don't put anyone down."
It's not for the sake of an interview, though. It's for the sake of an opinion. For the sake of him saying something about the value he attaches to his work. But for DiCaprio, interviews are not about opinions or truths, they are about selling products.
So would he say that films such as The Man in the Iron Mask and The Beach were as important to him as Gilbert Grape and This Boy's Life? "There are some that I definitely like more than others, so we'll just put it that way," he eventually concedes. "A lot of them happen to be in my earlier career and some later, too."
Maybe Titanic both made and broke you, I suggest - after all you can't have envisioned being a teen idol. "Uhm," he says. So how did he feel about it? "It certainly wasn't my intention. Nobody knew it would be that kind of success and I couldn't foresee what would happen to me in my career after that."
Did the film's success change his sense of who he was? "No, it didn't. It just made everything around me change. My daily life, my private life, the perception that people had of me." What was that perception? "I honestly don't put that much thought into it, but I know after Titanic it became something different than I'd ever intended it to be, which was you know . . . you know." But he doesn't want to put it into words.
Does he ever wish the film would have been a little less successful? "Ermmmm, interesting question," he says. "Aahhhhh, well, no, because I think it's cool that a movie penetrated that many people, and for me to be able to use that to my advantage is a great feeling."
Howard Hughes is a demanding role, and DiCaprio almost pulls it off. He's good when Hughes goes off the rails, but it's hard to believe him as a man of strength and vision. One problem is that he still looks like a boy. Another is that he acts like one. He is good at the technical stuff, but emotionally he has petrified in recent years. He seems to call on experiences he doesn't have, approximating and imitating characters rather than inhabiting them. When De Niro and Pacino started out, their experiences were etched on their faces. Perhaps DiCaprio succeeded too early and, consequently, has lived too much of his life in a bubble.
Has he ever wished he was less pretty? He looks at me as if it's the craziest question he's ever heard. Well, perhaps, it would be easier to convince in rougher, more hirsute roles, I suggest. "Do I feel it limits me as an actor? You're talking about people's perceptions again, which are hard to talk about, y'know, I don't see it as a disadvantage. Y'know, you always have makeup too." Which, of course, is true. But there's a more fundamental problem here. When Scorsese employs DiCaprio, the studio is investing in his beauty, and it doesn't want this marred halfway through a movie. So in Gangs of New York and The Aviator, Scorsese, the brutal realist of American cinema, is forced into such a compromise that DiCaprio emerges from a machete attack and a fiery plane crash (respectively) almost unscathed.
Recent interviews have suggested that Dicaprio found it easy to empathise with Hughes because he also suffered a milder form of obsessive compulsive disorder. Is that true? He shakes his head. No, he says, all he'd said was that everyone has their own rituals and superstitions.
So does the media just make this stuff up? "They write loads of crap about almost everybody who's in the limelight. Happens all the time," he says wearily.
Well let's go through all the things you're supposed to have done and set the record straight, I say. Is it true that he became a bit of a tearaway after Titanic? "False." Is it true that he and his friends, including David Blaine, called themselves the "pussy posse"? "Totally false. I'm sorry that I'm not giving you more to write about". That's fine, I say, we're just setting the record straight. Did he became shagtastic, dating supermodel after supermodel? "No, I wish I could give you more gossipy things to write about." Don't worry, I say, we're still setting the record straight. "You don't need to," he laughs desperately. "You don't need to. It's not going to make a difference anyway."
I ask DiCaprio if he fancies going into politics. "No," he says, "because I like acting." Has he ever considered taking time out and going to college, as Natalie Portman has done? "I'm very happy with the way things have gone." He says he's getting himself a fine education doing movies, and learning about the lives of great people. But I think he's got a bit more learning to do yet.
Before I can say goodbye or shake his hand, DiCaprio stands up, eyes to the floor, and silently walks out of the room.
Leonardo DiCaprio: Epic actor
Leonardo DiCaprio looks older than you'd think.
Standing 6-foot-1 and sporting a goatee and slicked-back hair, DiCaprio carries himself deliberately. He doesn't walk; he saunters. He speaks intensely, mulling his words while locking his eyes on you. He looks all of his 30 years, if not more. There's only a trace of the boy who starred seven years ago in the biggest box office hit of all time.
DiCaprio concedes that he still gets the "aren't you that kid from Titanic?" comment on the streets. But make no mistake: He is a boy no more.
"Yes, I can play younger than my age," he says with a grin over chocolate-dipped strawberries and biscotti at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. "But I can play characters older than I am, too. I'm not an actor who can just play the kid."
DiCaprio gets his chance to prove that on Dec. 17 when The Aviator arrives in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. It goes nationwide on Christmas Day. Martin Scorsese's sprawling epic about legendary airman and playboy Howard Hughes puts DiCaprio in foreign territory: playing a character who is older, richer and more famous than himself.
Few movies enter the fall with heavier expectations. Miramax Films is banking on the $100 million movie to put the studio back into the Oscar hunt after being shut out last year.
And after the collapse of Alexander, the critically panned, commercially disastrous Oliver Stone opus, The Aviator is the last epic standing this awards season. Part biopic, part homage to Hollywood's heyday of the 1920s and '30s, The Aviator's classic elements have helped make it the early front-runner among big-studio entries.
For Scorsese and DiCaprio, the movie marks something more personal: a shot at a first Oscar for both men.
Despite earning $20-million-a-movie paychecks and global stardom since 1997's Titanic, DiCaprio hasn't been nominated for an Academy Award since 1994's What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Scorsese is Oscar's latest bridesmaid, having been nominated for best director four times but never taking home the prize.
Both may find redemption this year. Industry analysts are calling the film Scorsese's best work since 1990's Goodfellas, thanks in part to the director and actor having an unusual aging effect on each other.
"Marty has helped bring out the man in Leo," says film critic Emanuel Levy, author of All About Oscar. "No one believed Leo could play Howard Hughes, who has always been seen as a man's man. But that's changed now. Leo is a lock for a best-actor nomination."
DiCaprio, in turn, "seems to have brought out the kid in Scorsese," Levy says. The Aviator is "more reminiscent of his brilliant early work like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, just more commercial and enjoyable."
Scorsese, 62, acknowledges that the young actor — who starred in his Gangs of New York in 2002 — has given him new energy.
"Directing is a real headache. But working with Leo, who forces you to talk and talk and talk about your movies, gets you excited about what you do."
A life 'too big for one movie'
There has been talk about making a film biography of the legendary airman and filmmaker for decades.
But where to start — or stop — such a film? Hughes was as much a force in Hollywood as he was in aviation. He broke speed records while financing some of the industry's most expensive films, including the $4 million Hell's Angels in 1930. He was commandeering TWA while courting the film industry's biggest stars, including Ava Gardner, Jean Harlow and Katharine Hepburn.
"And that was before he succumbed to his illness," DiCaprio says of the obsessive-compulsive disorder that left the germ-phobic millionaire the poster child for seclusion and paranoia. "His life was just too big for one movie."
Then it hit DiCaprio: Just take a portion of Hughes' life, the less-examined slice before the final phase of dementia, of uncut fingernails and tissue boxes turned into shoes.
When he was 22, the actor had stumbled across a book, Howard Hughes: The Untold Story by Peter H. Brown, and had been trying for years to coax directors to tackle the story.
After several fits and starts, he landed director Michael Mann and screenwriter John Logan, who wrote Gladiator and The Last Samurai.
Mann, citing biopic burnout from Ali, later decided to produce the film and not direct it. But Scorsese didn't hesitate at the chance to tackle the project.
"When I saw the title, I thought it was about flying," he says with a laugh. "And I hate flying. But the more something scares me, the more I want to explore it."
And DiCaprio sealed the deal, Scorsese says. "He doesn't so much play the roles as he becomes consumed by them. It's fascinating to watch."
Indeed, DiCaprio became obsessed with the part in a manner that might have made Hughes proud. He spent days with a man who had obsessive-compulsive disorder so he could observe the facial tics and mannerisms. He read a half-dozen biographies and watched hours of archival footage of the brash Hughes. He even insisted that Scorsese include a song by Django Reinhardt, a jazz guitarist from the 1930s, in the movie.
He wasn't the only one immersed in research. Cate Blanchett tackles the challenging role of the legendary Hepburn.
"It was great fun trawling through her films," Blanchett says. "It's one thing to play on screen someone who people have an image of and regard as an icon. But it's another thing to play her in the very medium in which she has become so revered. The truth is that I don't think I would have attempted it for anyone other than Martin Scorsese."
DiCaprio echoes his co-star. "Marty's got such an encyclopedic knowledge of film, especially old movies. You have to know your character inside out, or he'll let you have it."
That included Hughes' mental breakdown. DiCaprio rehearsed scenes for weeks that called for him to repeat a single line, over and over.
"Howard would get a line in his head and couldn't stop saying it," DiCaprio says. "One half of your brain is stuck in the record groove, while the other knows you sound like a fool. I was trying to figure out how you do that, how to say the same line again and again but express everything else that's going on inside your head."
DiCaprio's head, the actor insists, is far less cluttered than his character's, though he concedes that, like Hughes, he is partial to old films and the occasional obsession, particularly vintage movie posters. Over the years he has collected a French Buster Keaton poster, a German Apocalypse Now, a Polish Midnight Cowboy and an authentic King Kong "that cost me a bundle."
And like Hughes, DiCaprio has dated his share of famous women, having been stalked by paparazzi snapping him with Kate Moss, Demi Moore and, most recently, model Gisele Bündchen.
But that's where the similarity ends, he insists. He demurs from talking about his love life but says there is an emotional bond behind every relationship that Hughes' liaisons lacked.
"I think Howard thought of women the same way he thought of planes," DiCaprio says. "He wanted the fastest thing, the newest model. That is not how I approach dating."
He also is careful to approach fame differently from how Hughes did.
He doesn't hide buck-naked in hotel rooms as Hughes did in his withering years. But DiCaprio is selective about his films and his public appearances. He has starred in only five movies since Titanic, in part so that a single film would not define him as that one did.
He has acknowledged that it was a mistake turning down Boogie Nights in favor of the James Cameron film, which made him Hollywood's pinup boy for a generation of teenyboppers.
But he has since come to terms with that fame and says he takes no film in the hopes of getting an "anti-Titanic reaction."
"I think people read the tabloids because they want to see you eating a burger, or out of your makeup or doing something stupid because they just want to see that you're like everyone else," he says. "And that's OK. I don't want to catch myself anymore saying that my life is hard, because the good far outweighs the bad in my life. And it's easier to focus on those things, on the things that are important."
Like an Oscar? DiCaprio was snubbed when Titanic managed 14 Academy Award nominations (and 11 wins) in just about every category, including an acting nomination for co-star Kate Winslet. But DiCaprio's name was noticeably absent.
"Anyone who tells you that they don't want their work recognized by their peers is lying," he says. "I'd love this film to be the one, especially for Marty. That he didn't win an Oscar years ago is still a mystery to me.
"But he's the reason you make movies," DiCaprio says, moving to the edge of his couch cushion as he speaks. "You learn after you've been in the business for a while that it's not getting your face recognized that's the payoff. It's having your film remembered."
He grins slightly at the notion of calling himself a Hollywood veteran. "And I guess I have been in the business for a while now."
So has Scorsese. But lately, he says, he isn't feeling his years.
"After I finish a movie, I think, 'Wow, that was really hard work. What the hell am I doing this for?' " he says. "But then you meet an actor like Leo and start talking about movies and storytelling, and suddenly you're interested again. Just talking now, I'm ready to go start another one."
Leo enters with Gisele
Leonardo Dicaprio made his first ever public appearance with his supermodel Brazilian girlfriend, Gisele Bundchen, at the academy awards.
The two have been in a relationship for the past four years . Gisele held on to Leo outside the Kodak Theatre, Hollywood. It was evident that she was glowing with pride at finally being seen in public with her man.
Aviator star Leo had apparently denied earlier that she would be joining him at the Oscars. There had even been rumours about the couple's relationship -otherwise seen as stronger than most in Hollywood - going through a rough patch.
The actor, however, lost the best actor award to Jamie Foxx for Ray .
"I've probably done more publicity and public appearances in the last two months than I've done in the last eight years, but it's all because I'm so proud of The Aviator and want to come out and support the film", Ananova quoted Leo as saying.(ANI)
Dicaprio almost choked on a carrot before the Oscars!
Leonardo DiCaprio might have almost missed the Oscars had he not recovered after choking on a carrot during a meal at an exclusive Los Angeles restaurant.
"He was enjoying chomping on some raw carrot sticks when it turned to chaos. One of the sticks must have got lodged in his throat. The next thing we knew he was spluttering and coughing, and his lips were going blue," Femalefirst quoted an onlooker, as saying.
"It was terrifying. He tried to stand and lean forward and one member of staff rushed to his side. His mum was patting him on the back and had to give him the Heimlich manoeuvre," he added.
Leonardo DiCaprio says he wants to marry Gisele Bundchen
Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly says he's ready to settle down and marry girlfriend Gisele Bundchen.
I've been with Gisele for four years now and we're happy together. Monogamy is the key to a good relationship, he said. When I was younger I had a lot of fun. I've had my fair share of models.
The star of The Aviator has been dating Bundchen for four years, but they broke up last summer after the model reportedly grew tired of waiting for him to propose, TeenHollywood.com reported Tuesday. They later got back together.
I want three children but I want to be in a happy marriage, said Bundchen last week.
Superstar Leonardo DiCaprio to hand out Oscar
Leonardo DiCaprio, star of "The Aviator," the film that goes into this week's Oscars armed with the most nominations, will present one of the coveted statuettes, organisers said.
The 30-year-old, who is nominated for a best actor Academy Award for his role as eccentric US billionaire Howard Hughes in Martin Scorsese's biopic, has joined a growing list of celebrities who will hand out the honours.
His turn on the Oscars stage during Sunday's awards show will mark his first appearance as a presenter.
DiCaprio shot to international stardom for his role in 1997's seaborne epic "Titanic" and has been one of Hollywood's top male stars ever since.
He won his first Oscar nomination as best supporting actor in 1993's "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and also starred in films such as "Catch Me If You Can," "Gangs of New York" and "Marvin's Room."
Leonardo DiCaprio Talks About "The Aviator"
Leonardo DiCaprio reunites with his "Gangs of New York" director, Martin Scorsese, for a probing look at the life of eccentric, unbalanced, aviator/film director, Howard Hughes, in "The Aviator."
Dressed in a black buttoned-down shirt, clean-shaven, with his hair slicked back, DiCaprio looked handsome and relaxed as he met with the press in LA to talk about his work on one of the most-anticipated films of 2004, "The Aviator:"
What was it about Howard Hughes that fascinated you?
As an actor, you’re constantly searching for that great character. And, being a history buff and learning about people in our past and amazing things that they’ve done, I came across a book of Howard Hughes and he was set up basically as like the most multi-dimensional character I could ever come across.
Often people have tried to define him in biographies. No one seems to be able to categorize him. He was one of the most complicated men of the last century. And so I got this book, brought it to Michael Mann, and John Logan came onboard and really came up with the concept of saying, “You can do ten different movies about Howard Hughes. Let’s focus on his younger years. Let’s watch his initial descent into madness but meanwhile, have the backdrop of early Hollywood, these daring pioneers in the world of aviation that were like astronauts that went out and risked their lives to further the cause of aviation.”
[Hughes was] the first American billionaire who had all the resources in the world but was somehow unable to find any sense of peace or happiness. It’s that great see-saw act in the movie that goes on. On one side, he’s having all the successes in the world. And on the other side the tiny microbes and germs are the things that are taking him downwards, because of his OCD and being a germaphobe.
Could you relate to any of the things?
Relate? I think he certainly took things farther than I could ever imagine. He was such an obsessed human being. He was so obsessive about everything he’d gotten involved with, whether it be planes or women or the films that he made. And that is the direct result of his OCD. I wouldn’t go to those extremes but certainly, the “Hell’s Angels” sequence, being a part of films that have gone on for many, many months and you’re sitting there with the director trying to get things perfect and do things over and over and over again, that was something that I think Scorsese and I immediately identified with.
Do you see any other parallels between Howard Hughes’ fear of celebrity and any paranoias in your own personal and professional life?
I have to say, you know, I’m, for the most part, a pretty private person but his came, like I said, from a genuine mental disorder and I’m just fundamentally not like that. My reasons for being a private person are different from Mr. Hughes’. Mine are because I’m an actor and I want people to believe me in different roles and not necessarily know way too much about me. I want to be around in the business for a long time, and he had an intense fear of being around people and germs, as displayed very well in the film.
Can you talk about your relationship with Mr. Scorsese and what he might have brought to your performance?
What I’m going to say is going to sound like a cliché but I can not tell a lie. He is every actor’s dream to work with. He’s the man in the business that you can unanimously ask any actor of any age range, and they want to work with this man because he is not only one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, but he is like a film historian. He’s a professor of film. The man has seen almost every film ever made up until 1980. You get an education while working with him every single day. He screens movies for you to talk about specific scenes and what he’s trying to convey up on the screen. You can ask him a question about a character or the way a scene should go and he can show you 20 different examples of filmmakers that have done that in the past, the way it’s been done right, the way it’s been done wrong. And it’s an incredible learning experience.
But, for us, having this huge sort of generational gap, we actually found that we fundamentally share the same tastes in a lot of different things. Not just film, but music and art. And we dislike a lot of the same things, and like a lot of the same things. We have a great work ethic together. We get along.
We’ve had marathon rehearsal sessions and sometimes those can be arduous if people don’t enjoy that process but his whole criteria, the thing that he does so well is he’s so persistent on making everything he does an authentic as possible. So, he loves to have actors come to the table with an array of different information and different new ideas and challenging things. He welcomes that more than anyone else I’ve ever worked with. For this movie, and all the research I did, we certainly did a lot of that.
In addition to the book, what other research did you do?
The genesis, like I said, was seven, eight years ago, reading the book, bringing it to Michael Mann, and finally John Logan developing it with Michael, and then the script landing on my lap. And then the real research began after we committed to the movie, Marty and I. It was a year of preparation. It was not only those marathon sessions with John Logan and Scorsese, but I got to meet a couple of people who actually worked with Howard, who knew Howard. Jane Russell, I drove up north to spend a day with her and talk about Howard. And Terry Moore, his ex-wife, she provided a lot of information about him.
When you read a script and it says in the script, “He has obsessive compulsive disorder,” and then you read two pages of a man repeating the same line over and over again… Not that it’s easy for a writer to write that because he has his own thought process, but when you’re an actor and reading that you say, “How in the hell am I gonna say this? What is the driving force behind repeating something 20 times in a row and why the hell is he doing it?” So that brought me to work with Dr.effrey Schwartz of UCLA, who is the leading physician on obsessive compulsive disorder and treating it in a non-medicated fashion. He really explained to me what OCD is and the brain mechanism that goes into it and the sort of faulty gear shift, the sticky gear shift that happens when your mind obsesses on one thing and you don’t listen to the other part of your brain that tells you you’re being ridiculous. So, I worked a lot with him and a patient of his. I spent a few days with him, living around him and talking to him and really trying to find out why he had to repeat or do things obsessively. Then, reading every possible book I could on him and his life.
Did Hughes date so many beautiful, famous women with a perception of his place in history or of his mythic status as a celebrity? And do you think about your place in history when you date somebody who is equally famous?
(Smiling) No. Those aren’t my intentions going into a relationship. But, with Howard, it’s an interesting dynamic because I honestly feel that as much as he had love and adoration for these women and genuinely cared for them, he kind of looked at them like airplanes. You know what I mean? He was a technical genius and obsessed with finding the new, faster, bigger airplane (laughs) and that was simultaneous with women. He was constantly finding the new, hotter female to go out with.
It all related back to him being orphaned at a very young age and sort of having this empty hole in his soul that, I think, he was always trying to fill with new, more exciting things in his life. He ended up, obviously, not a very happy person. I don’t know if he was thinking about whether historically he was going to become a legend. I’m sure he had that sort of cat and mouse things going on in his mind where he wanted to be famous but it was more like, “Look at me! Look at me! No, don’t look at me!”
What about the truth versus the legend in this movie?
Like I said, there is so much information. There’s the whole later years of Howard’s life, which is a film in its own right anyway. But the reason this film was made, and I think the first true distinctive film on Howard Hughes was possible because of focusing on his younger years and being able to show not only the growing up of this man in this time period, but our country, the state of our country, and what kind of people were around in the beginning of early Hollywood and the attitudes of people.
Where do you feel the director, and you as an actor, need to draw the line between historical accuracy and when can you go over that line into the realm of storytelling and fantasy?
When it serves the film and as long, to me, as the essence of what you’re trying to portray is the intention of the character. There are a couple of things in this movie that weren’t exactly what really happened. And I know there’s all those detectives out there that love to look for mistakes or things that weren’t exactly the real deal. But, for example, Howard Hughes never did the thing with buying the photos of Katharine Hepburn, of her and Spencer Tracy. Instead the intention was the same: he bought her “The Philadelphia Story,” which she ended up doing on stage, and inevitably got her an Academy Award after they broke up. The intention was still there. He still loved her, he still cared about her as a person, and still did something like that for her.
You know, I think as long as you are carried on that ride of the film and you’re engaged in the character and it’s something that isn’t way too far out of the field of what really happened - and the intention is still there - I think that’s the artists’ right.
How did you shake Howard Hughes at the end of each day?
I’ve always been pretty good at being able to go home and be me again. But, as much as, for this character, I’d certainly say more than any other character I’ve played in the past, this one stayed with me the most. Especially with this stuff having to do with obsessive compulsive disorder. We all have obsessive things we do to some degree, a primal thing in our brain, that’s a part of our brain mechanism. I remember as a child, stepping on cracks on the way to school and having to walk back a block and step on that same crack or that gum stain. So, for the movie, I kind of let all that stuff go and was constantly stepping on things and reorganizing things constantly, and wanted that to encourage that to come back. And it really did. Once you don’t stop yourself from doing that stuff, it can just go on and on and on.
People with OCD truly live, with genuine OCD, people that aren’t able to make that distinction, truly live in a 24-hour hell of constantly playing mind games with themselves. They could sit here and have a conversation but all they want to do is reach over here and twist this around and flip it over 20 times in a row. An array of different things. Sometimes, let’s just say it took me a while to get to set having to step on tons of things (laughing).
Did you ever go to see the Spruce Goose?
Yeah, I went to see the Spruce Goose when I was younger. I didn’t go back to see it again. I wanted to go up and fly some of these planes but, quite understandably, the insurance company said to me, “No, we’re not going to allow you to go fly antique World War II planes for the first time in your life two weeks before shooting.” (Laughing) So, that was understandable. There are certain things that you have to have a little leeway for.
Doing an historical film like this, what insight did it give you into what we’re living through today?
Well, more so than anything, what I was worried about the most in this film was saying, “Okay, here’s the first American billionaire. He’s handsome, he sleeps with the best women in the world, he’s an American hero and how the hell do you make this situation with Juan Trippe and Pan American Airways and this Senator become a sympathetic situation towards Howard Hughes?”
I was going through my head and churning constantly, and then I realized, for exactly what you’re talking about specifically, it has to do with corporate takeover and the involvement of huge corporations with our government, and they’re in cahoots and it’s going on today with the Enron scandals and numerous other things. That’s what really made me say, “Okay, here’s this one man, he’s his own boss, he is rich but he is a stand-up individual and here he is with all these horrible things going on with himself mentally, standing up in front of the Senate and battling the Senate to stop the monopoly on international travel.” I think, ultimately, people kind of got behind that and lost all the other pre-thoughts about who Howard Hughes was or whether he would be a sympathetic character. And as far as history is concerned, a lot of people I spoke to said they really wanted Howard Hughes to be President after that. They really loved this one individual taking on the entire system, taking on the government, taking on huge monopolies and corporations. And that’s what, in other words, struck a chord emotionally for people, or me at least anyway.
Can you talk about the two Kates – Cate Blanchett and Kate Beckinsale?
Well, for the Katharine Hepburn character there was really only one person that could play that role in the world. There is the, what can I say, the female version of Daniel Day-Lewis, and that is Cate Blanchett. To be able to take on the persona and one of the most iconic female voices of the 20th Century, in Katharine Hepburn, one of the most immediately recognizable voices, and being from Australia as well… Taking on that, you have to be a true chameleon and genius. So, enough said about that.
Kate Beckinsale, we were looking for Ava and she came in with the full fur and Ava Gardner attire and make-up and attitude. And once we met with a few girls for that, as soon as she stepped into the meeting with us we knew we had our Ava. She represented the class, had the strength, had the attitude, and it was a joy to work with both of them.
Can you talk a little bit about the breakdown scene in the screening room?
We shot a lot more than was actually in the movie because we didn’t know what we were going to use. There’s literally entire report documents that are the size of huge novels. Howard Hughes took all his technical brilliance that he would use for airplanes or engineering or whatever it may be, and reverted all that energy into how his lunch was delivered. It’s truly some of the most frightening, astonishing stuff I’ve ever read. I mean transcripts and memos that went on for hours and hours and hours about the angle of the lunch, the way the milk was to be delivered, the way the knock was supposed to be, whether the man could smile, cough, breath, how many times he could blink, and the angles of the way the food was to be delivered, his gloves. It was frightening, frightening stuff. And we incorporated a lot of that, but unfortunately there was way, way too much to put in. I think we definitely got the essence of his madness and portrayed what we wanted to portray. But, like I said, Howard Hughes in his later years, that’s another film unto itself. It’s not as cinematic, a man locked in a room.
How did you feel spending a week doing that? Do you feel like you were losing it?
Sometimes yeah, sometimes definitely. You sort of get into your own headspace and don’t really want to talk to anyone. I spent a lot of time just sitting around in the screening room alone. But, pain is temporary, film is forever, and that’s the fun part of knowing on the day that what you’re doing will actually show up on screen. That’s the best feeling.
Do you think Howard Hughes would have been the genius that he was without the OCD?
I think they’re a direct result of one another. It’s like he would have not been as obsessed about making the largest plane ever built. He wouldn’t have been obsessed about breaking every speed record. He wouldn’t have been obsessed about flying around the world faster than anyone else. He wouldn’t have been obsessed about reshooting “Hells Angels” for sound, having that movie go on for four years. He wouldn’t have been… It was all completely a part of his obsessive nature and his OCD that made him have such an amazing, astounding life.
OCD at the time was undiagnosed. People didn’t know what it was and he was such a private introverted person that he would have never, even if there was a doctor out there that could have cured him, he wouldn’t have had that meeting with the doctor to begin with, nor taken any medication to solve it. So he just thought it was his own essence, his own being, not knowing that he had any kind of condition whatsoever. And absolutely it propelled him to do everything that he did, I believe anyway. But also, he was a huge dreamer as well. It was a crockpot of different things that made Howard Hughes who he was. It was a combination of stuff, but OCD was a huge part of it.
What are your film tastes like these days?
I’m still doing my homework, still watching a lot of old movies. A lot of old films. Some of my favorites, the last thing that I really got into was the whole neo-realism movement with De Sica and all those great Italian directors, “The Bicycle Thief,” and all of his great work.
It’s so funny because here we are doing movies at this day and age and you don’t realize that these directors have attempted these things almost 100 times before you. We think we’re so original with our ideas and things we’re trying to accomplish, but some of these great directors of our past have gone to those extremes and even further. And that’s why film preservation is so damn important, so directors and actors can have a library of seeing what people did in the past and learning from it and trying to improve or not make the same mistakes or whatever it may be.
The movie shows Howard’s dream is flying airplanes. What were your dreams or obsessions as a kid?
I’ve really only had one ever since I got into this business at around 13 years old and that was to be in this business forever. You know, once I did my first television commercial I got that itch and that bug and said, “If it is possible to make a living doing this for the rest of my life, then it’s the only thing I really want to do.” He had multiple dreams, but that’s been it. And once I’ve been in it, truly I look at film and cinema as legitimate an art form as sculpture or painting or anything else. It is a true art form and we’re in the beginnings, we’re in the first 100 years of cinema. It’s still at its infancy. I’m very curious to see what types of films last for the next 1,000 years, just like what paintings people still look at. I want to be a part of art, as far as cinema is concerned, that people will want to see for generations to come.
How did you find the strength to stick with your dreams and who inspired you?
The first thing I can think of is my dad. I remember the casting session that I had where I was a break dancer so I had a punk hair cut. They rejected me and I became really disillusioned with the business and said, “Well, this is what it’s all about. I haven’t even got in to read a line.” He said, “Don’t worry, some day we’re going to get you back into this and it’s going to happen for you.” So I kind of took that to heart.
It was one of those situations where I was lucky enough and fortunate enough to be at the right places at the right time, and I did a couple of television shows, “Parenthood” and “Growing Pains.” Then all of a sudden I was on the set of “Growing Pains” and got this audition for “This Boy’s Life” and was able to jump into the feature film world. It’s really been just simply the fact that I’d been able to work. You know what I mean? That has been the deciding factor. I mean, I would probably still be trying to be an actor even if I was out of work, but I would probably become a little disillusioned at some point and move on to other things. But I truly love it, I just truly - it’s like the one thing that I know that I love.
So you credit the support of your family?
Definitely. And if it wasn’t for my mother and my father taking me out to the hundreds and hundreds of auditions every day after school, and never being stage parents, and always saying, “Look, at any time if you want to stop doing this, or you hate it, just tell us.” And I kept on saying, “Nope, nope, I want to do it, I want to do it.”
Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese to team up again
"The Aviator" star Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese are going to work with each other again, according to a report on Ananova.com.
The pair have already worked on "The Aviator" and "Gangs of New York" and are in talks about working on a remake of a 1940's Japanese film called "Drunken Angel".
The 1948 original followed the relationship between a young gangster and an alcoholic doctor in a grim post Second World War village in Japan, according to reports on ITV.com.
Di Caprio and Scorcese are also making "The Departed", which they'll start filming later this year.
Lifetime Achievement Award For Leonardo DiCaprio
At the age of 30, Hollywood heart-throb, Leonardo DiCaprio was presented the "Platinum Award" at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Sunday.
The award, created to commemorate the festival's 20th anniversary, recognizes DiCaprio's "exceptional career," according to Roger Durling, festival director.
DiCaprio is currently starring in the critically acclaimed film The Aviator, portraying the eccentric Howard Hughes. He won the Best Actor award (Drama) at the Golden Globes 2005.
One Oscar portrait in miniature
Leonardo DiCaprio, best actor for 'The Aviator'
Playing the tormented Howard Hughes in Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator" brought back memories of the obsessive compulsive disorder that Leonardo DiCaprio had as a child.
"I remember as a kid stepping on cracks on the way to school and having to walk back a black and step on that same crack or that gum stain," said DiCaprio, the star of the most profitable film of all time, "Titanic" (1997). "So for this movie, I kind of let all of that stuff go and was constantly stepping on things and reorganizing things constantly. I wanted to encourage that to come back, and it really did."
He also used this pain for a scene where Hughes breaks down in a screening room. "I just got into my own head space," he said. "I didn't want to talk to anyone. It was painful, but pain is temporary. Film is forever."
DiCaprio always wanted to play Hughes and calls the germaphobic filmmaker, billionaire and aviation jockey "a great character."
"I loved the idea of playing one of the most complicated men of the last century. People tried to categorize him over the years, but they couldn't really define him.
"The sad thing is that Hughes was the first American billionaire who had all the resources in the world, but somehow was unable to find any sense of peace or happiness."
DiCaprio sees parallels between Hughes' celebrity and his own. "Hughes had an intense fear of being around people, and germs as displayed very well in the film," DiCaprio said.
"For the most part, I'm pretty private. But my reasons for being a private person are different than Mr. Hughes'. Mine are because I'm an actor and I want people to believe me in different roles and not necessarily know way too much about me.
"I want to be in this business for a long, long time."
He has already been in this business for a long time. DiCaprio was doing his first TV commercials at age 13 and was nominated for his first Oscar in 1993 for "What's Eating Gilbert Grape."
"I caught the itch and the bug. Even at 13, I was thinking, 'If it's possible to make a living doing this for the rest of my life," he said. "I knew this was what I wanted to do.
"Film is a true art form and we're just in the beginning of it. We're in the first hundred years of cinema. It's still in its infancy. I'm very curious to see what films will last into the next thousand years. I want to be part of pieces of art as far as cinema is concerned. I want to do the movies that people will see for generations to come.
"That's my dream."
Next: DiCaprio will star again for Scorsese in the crime thriller "The Departed," which also stars Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg.
Leonardo Di Caprio: Catch Me If You Can
Have you ever seen a better example of how celebrity can sabotage a career as you have leonardo dicapriowith Leonardo DiCaprio? After a stellar start in This Boy's Life, The Basketball Diaries and Romeo+Juliet, Leo's career went stratospheric (even as the boat sunk underneath him) inTitanic. Two bombs, The Beach and The Count of Monte Cristo, followed. That and an incessant string of gossipy stories in the papers threatened to fling DiCaprio into the realm of pretty boy has-been. With this year's Catch Me If You Can, DiCaprio has righted his course, used his looks to their best advantage in the role of con man and check forger Frank Abignale who, between the ages of 16 and 19, passed four million dollars worth of bad checks all around the world. In doing so, he passed himself off as a doctor, a lawyer and an airline pilot, just for starters. We sat with half a dozen other critics in a stuffy New York hotel room to put the questions to DiCaprio, who slouched in his chair and pulled a Detroit Tigers ballcap over his face. Only at the very end did we get a rise out of the man.
CrankyCritic.com: Why do you think we love con artists so much?
Leonardo DiCaprio: Because they're great actors, I suppose. They're able to manipulate their surroundings to their liking. There haven't been all that many movies about con artists lately, I don't think maybe The Talented Mr. Ripley was one. But yk it's certainly fascinating and adventurous to go on the journey of the character and see how they are able to manipulate their environments.
CrankyCritic: You're 28 now, playing a character who is 16 pretending to be 28.
DiCaprio: It's really interesting, actually. When I first read the character it was like 'I am 16 I can play this character!' I realized how it was tailor made for me. I felt like I had the spirit of this man but he simultaneously looked older than his years and had a maturity level older than his years. I'm actually 11 years that character's senior so I had to think about getting rid of some of the habits that I had being 27, at the time, and try to get back to that state of innocence; to try to be young like that again.
CrankyCritic: What did you come away with when you met the real Frank Abignale?
DiCaprio: A number of different things. I was skeptical at first and Steven was skeptical. He didn't want me to meet the real Abignale but I was looking for the undercurrent of who
he was. I knew about the cons in great detail. I knew about the stories he told in great detail [in the book]dicaprio and the real frank abignale. I knew about the way he did things and the mechanics but I didn't understand what drove him as a person and how he was so able to easily disarm people and how he made people feel at ease and trust him. I picked up on a number of different things about the way he presented himself physically and the way he spoke to you; the way he made you feel special. He had this intense eye contact with you and engaged you as well. He has this innate talent and instinct as an actor. I asked him if he ever manipulated his voice and he said 'no' and I said 'give me an example' and all of a sudden he went into this sudden drawl as an example of him talking to, you know, a bank on the telephone. I said to him 'Do you know what you're doing?' And he said 'No.' I said 'You're manipulating your voice! You're creating a character, is what you're doing.' It was so part of his talent that he didn't recognize he was doing it
CrankyCritic: We know what drives Frank in that answer. What drives Leo?
DiCaprio: What drives me? As far as being an actor is concerned what drives me is the love of the work. The love of being to show up on set every day and the love of being able to get into a different character's mind and become another person. That's what I love to do. What drives me to continue to make movies is the unbelievable unique experiences I get to have and the education I get to have. It's my college and has been ever since I was 16 and did This Boy's Life. It's a long college course that's been endless and given me so much.
CrankyCritic: You put on 30 pounds for Gangs of New York. Did you have to lose it to regain a boyish figure?
DiCaprio: Yeah, I did [everyone laughs]. For Gangs of New York I trained for six months, put on a lot of weight and had to maintain it for 8 months because the movie got pushed. For this I wanted to slim down and look sleek but the truth of the matter is that Frank, at the time, looked so - he actually had grey streaks in his leo in Gangs of NYhair. The guy looked like a 30 year old man at 16 when you see the pictures. It's quite shocking. The combination of the way he looked coupled with his talents and instinct and intelligence; he wouldn't have been able to get away with what he got away with if he didn't actually physically look years older than he actually was.
CrankyCritic: Does the fact that you look younger than 28 concern you?
DiCaprio: Well I don't look sixteen anymore. Over the years as an actor playing roles it's been beneficial. I'm able to be able to play a character who's sixteen. In other words I'm not trying to rush to make any big transition to playing adult roles. I think that things like that happen naturally. I'll be able to do those roles when I get older. Right now I don't believe in any big plan as an actor. People either buy you in certain role or they don't
CrankyCritic: Do you think it'll feel weird the first time you're cast, say, as a father
DiCaprio: Yes.[laughter] Yes, absolutely.
CrankyCritic: What do you think has been your best work so far?
DiCaprio: My best work? Phew. You know I can only tell you what people have told me. They've told me that Gilbert Grape is something they really like. I don't know, really. Maybe it was. I have a personal sense of satisfaction about many movies that I've done. I've had bad experiences on some. Some have resonated with me and I haven't forgotten. Certainly This Boys Life, my first film, was something I felt very attached to that film. When you make a movie like that at a young age it really forms you. It molds you for the rest of your career. Those people become like family. They become part of who you are.
CrankyCritic: Talk about what you had to do to lock down these two roles.
leo in Gangs of NYDiCaprio: Gangs of NY was a long arduous road to be involved in that project. I actually gave up on it for years. When I was 17 I heard about the project and wanted to be attached to it. Martin Scorsese was someone I was dying to work with and I switched agencies and sort of forgot about it and it sort of resurrected itself when I was 25 and our mutual manager asked Scorsese what movie he wanted to do (as opposed to forcing a movie on him). He said I've always dreamed of doing Gangs of NY. And it happened like that. Catch Me is a really boring story in that I read the book and someone submitted the script to me when it was ready and I attached myself to it. The ironic thing is that I never thought of Spielberg for this project. I never imagined it was the type of movie he wanted to do. When they asked me to compile a director's list I didn't put him on it because I didn't think he wanted to do it. He came to me later and said "You know you didn't put me on that director's list..." I said "Well, come on, I obviously would of if I had any thought that you wanted to be involved." He basically read the script like Hanks did and it jumped off the page at him. He called me and said "Look if you don't have a director I want to be a part of it." And it's all good.
CrankyCritic: Is there a concern about Gangs and Catch Me coming out one week apart?
DiCaprio: Maybe financially for the studios. I would have preferred them to have a little bit of separation but maybe it's a good thing for me. Maybe people will see two distinctive characters. I put so much time and effort into these projects. I really put my heart into them and I'm just proud to finally show them.
CrankyCritic: When he was 16, Spielberg spent a summer sneaking onto the Universal lot, pretending to be an executive. Have you ever pulled off a con of your own?
dicaprio, spielberg, hanksDiCaprio: I do remember going through emotional changes trying to get out of my math homework but that's about it.
CrankyCritic: What are you passionate about, beside film making
DiCaprio: The environment. I believe in doing a couple of things and doing them well. I want to be an actor and I want to be an environmentalist. I try to bring more attention to the issue of global warming and that came, actually, from a talk I had with Al Gore. He told me to start reading up on global warming because it's something that doesn't get enough media attention and it's something that can completely transform our planet forever if we continue on the path of not leaning towards renewable energy resources and green technology and continue burning fossil fuels we'll have a profound effect on our climate and it could have horrible effects in the future.
CrankyCritic: Have you been able to recapture a sense of privacy and put all the tabloid crap behind you?
DiCaprio: You know what the truth is? That's really out of my control. I'm not going to live my life to duck the paparazzi or trying to keep out of Page Six. I'm going to live my life. I don't think it's a great way to live if you have to be constantly worried about something like that. The only time I comment about myself is when I'm promoting a movie or trying to support a film coming out. Other than that I try to lay low and I don't think it's important to go out there and try to read all the various things people say about you. It's not necessary. It's a no win battle.
Titanic sank me, says DiCaprio
Eaten up... Leonardo DiCaprio admits that his ego ballooned after the critical acclaim he received for What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
It was the film which launched him as a bona fide box office superstar, but Leonardo DiCaprio has said that taking the lead role in the multi-Oscar winning Titanic also sank any chance he might have had of retaining a sense of mystery to audiences.
In an interview for next month's edition of Vanity Fair magazine, DiCaprio says that he wishes he had plumped for a very different role which he was offered at the same time as he took Titanic, that of the porn star Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights.
Paul Thomas Anderson's tale of cocaine and naked flesh in the swinging 70s eventually starred the former rapper Mark Wahlberg.
DiCaprio said Titanic's success in winning 11 Academy Awards and grossing more than $1bn had made it difficult for audiences to see him in other roles.
DiCaprio, 29, said: "It's a really obvious thing to say, but the more people know too much about who you really are, and it's a fundamental thing, the more the mystery is taken away from the artist, and the harder it is for people to believe that person in a particular role."
The actor - whose latest movie, Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, opens here on Boxing Day - also admitted to developing a gargantuan ego after the success of What's Eating Gilbert Grape in 1994, for which he was nominated for an Oscar and compared to a young Marlon Brando. He said his ego was once so big he believed his acting had "altered the course of history".