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 Leonardo Reflects on Stardom, His Legacy and Love

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Number of posts : 414
Registration date : 2008-03-11

PostSubject: Leonardo Reflects on Stardom, His Legacy and Love   Sat Oct 04, 2008 4:49 pm

WHILE he has seemed all business since his post-Titanic move into challenging adult roles, Leonardo DiCaprio says that at heart he's still just a young guy wowed by the movies.

From the direct gaze of his steely blue eyes to his in-depth discussions about his environmental and political crusading, DiCaprio seems every inch the serious issues star.

There are hints of the boyish rogue-like charm he exhibited in some of his best known performances as well as during his stint as a hard-living Hollywood playboy.

When asked if he spent time with government agents to help prepare for his latest role as terrorist-chasing CIA operative Roger Ferris in Body of Lies, a smile changes DiCaprio's usually serious face.

"I had (meetings with) a former head of the CIA, who shall remain nameless," the 33-year-old says with a conspiratorial wink and a laugh.

"He helped me out with a lot of stuff with his knowledge of undercover ops."

The fast-paced thriller, based on the novel by Washington Post Middle East correspondent David Ignatius, has DiCaprio teaming with director Ridley Scott and Australian Oscar-winner Russell Crowe, who plays CIA veteran Ed Hoffman who plans strategy from a laptop in the Washington suburbs.

This is Crowe's third film with the celebrated filmmaker. They have formed a strong partnership since Gladiator.

DiCaprio, who has formed his own multi-film director-actor alliance with fellow legend Martin Scorsese, says he had reservations about being the new kid on the block in the tight team.

"Ridley Scott is a unique director and they (Ridley and Russell) are both unique in the way they work together," he says.

"They kind of mumble a few things to each other and they have such an incredible shorthand that they just kind of instinctively agree on things and all of a sudden a scene is changed or a helicopter is going to land in the shot or whatever it is.

"They are so instinctively quick about it that you have to embrace that kind of pace, a pace I'm not necessarily used to, but once you get into the mode of that it's incredibly exhausting but it's a pace that energises you and keeps you incredibly on your toes.

"That's what I see in their relationship together. They are both about business when they show up on the set.

"They're all about being completely honest with each other right off the bat, telling each other exactly what they think and making quick decisions."

The high-octane shoot came at the end of the three movie back-to-back stretch, as DiCaprio went straight to the Middle East from the set of '50s drama Revolutionary Road, which has been garnering Oscar buzz and had him reteaming with his Titanic co-star Kate Winslet.

"It (Body of Lies) was a refreshing experience coming off Revolutionary Road, which in its own right was fascinating and interesting but it was more like a stage play and endless talks about two people's relationships and what they would really be feeling, confined into a small home in the suburbs," he says.

"A month later I was out in the middle of Morocco with helicopters shooting missiles at me (laughs) and giant crews moving location from one side of the desert to the other, making split-second decisions.

"It was jarring but it was interesting."

Over the course of two days of interviews with DiCaprio, he exhibits the two sides to his famed persona - casual Californian guy and serious big screen professional.

For the first day there was an intimate discussion in a small luxury hotel suite in Beverly Hills.

He looks more like an average bloke heading to sit courtside at a basketball game than one of the worlds's highest-earning movie stars.

Clad in loose-fitting dark jeans, a black stretch sports top and inky-hued trainers, his only admission to fashion is a pair of gold-rimmed designer sunglasses, which he places on a side table along with a black leather wallet and his slimline mobile phone.

On this day, DiCaprio's jawline is carpeted with a fine layer of stubble and his hair is wet, as if he had just run his head under a bathroom tap and swept it up.

Later in the week, when he faces a room full of press from around the world, DiCaprio is polished and ready for his close-up, donning black slacks and a dark shirt under an espresso-hued fine knit, with his hair perfectly styled in a fashion reminiscent of Hollywood screen legend Cary Grant.

DiCaprio's demeanour is noticeably more serious and reserved at the second meeting, seldom smiling or joking, picking his words carefully as he limits his discussion to the topic of America's place in the world involving terrorism, the upcoming presidential election and environmental policy.

Earlier in the week, a more relaxed DiCaprio opens up.

He is surprisingly candid when talk turns to his late-'90s label as the big screen's ultimate young heart-throb - a tag earned from playing the passionate and doomed heroes in films including Baz Luhrmann's modern-day Shakespeare remake Romeo + Juliet and the blockbuster epic Titanic.

Over the past eight years DiCaprio's film choices have allowed him to display a new maturity and a whole lot of talent.

The films have ranged from his Scorsese collaborations Gangs of New York and The Departed to African crusading picture Blood Diamond to biographical dramas The Aviator and Catch Me If You Can.

DiCaprio shakes his head when asked if a desire to steer away from the heart-throb label factored into his career decision-making after Titanic.

"It's never been - although some may perceive it that way - a conscious career steering into one direction or the other," he says.

"These are the kind of the movies I've always wanted to do since I was 15 or 16 years old and now I'm getting the opportunity to pick and choose films in a way I don't think I could have when I was younger.

"This is representative of who I really want to be as an actor and less of ..." he trails off, looking down as he pauses to reconsider his words before a smile lights up his face.

"It's kind of simple, you know - I'm a guy and I like hardcore movies," he says, with a laugh and a wink.

DiCaprio's recent projects have reflected issues as varied as global warming, police corruption and the African diamond trade, but when asked if he finds it important to be in films that are creating debate, he seems torn.

"Yes, in some ways, but they are very hard to find and it doesn't mean it's always synonymous with a good story or an entertaining film and it doesn't always mean that a director I would necessarily love to work with is working on it so it's very difficult to find movies like this," he says.

"I love doing movies like this because obviously when you are dealing with issues that the world is facing right now and topics on people's minds, it gets you that much more excited about the project and where it comes historically - how it is a representation of that time period.

"But the main criteria is always: Is it going to be a good movie that you're going to like to see? It's very simple because at the end of the day you can do political film after political film or controversial film after controversial film and if it's rubbish no one watches it and it's a huge waste of time."

DiCaprio becomes animated when talking about his prized collection of contemporary paintings and sculptures that he hand-picks to decorate his Los Angeles home.

"I collect art and I have a good movie poster collection - everything I ever dreamt about as a kid and to be able to obtain some of that is pretty incredible," he says.

"I collect paintings and sculptures - a lot of contemporary art, stuff of my generation, because a lot of the old stuff is crazy expensive.

"I wish I had started a long time ago."

On the subject of love, he is much less revelatory - and for good reason.

DiCaprio has long been fodder for the paparazzi because of his penchant for models and his hard-partying ways earlier in his career - but he shies away from talking about his relationships.

His rocky on-off relationship with the Brazilian supermodel Giselle Bundchen, 28, finally ended in November 2005 after almost six years. DiCaprio himself reportedly called it quits.

Since then, he has had a relationship with Israeli swimsuit model Bar Rafaeli, 23.

So does the big screen bachelor plan on getting married and having a family?

"Me? Sure," he says, stretching his arms back and then linking his fingers behind his head.

When asked whether he plans to marry before he turns 40, DiCaprio laughs awkwardly.

"If I had a crystal ball I could tell you that," he says in a tone that signifies that topic is closed.

Beyond his hopes for a family, his work in the environmental field and his campaigning to encourage young voters to hit the polls, DiCaprio says he has a firm idea of what he wants his legacy to be.

"You become so busy as an adult you've got to remind yourself what your intent was and the direction you took in life," he says.

"I just keep thinking back to when I first said, 'Oh wow, I can actually become an actor and do serious work and have a film career'.

"I was 16 and relatively young so it was a pretty big opportunity to have at that time - and a lucky one.

"I remember seeing the great actors of the generation of (Robert) DeNiro, (Al) Pacino and (Dustin) Hoffman and saying, 'I just want to be a part of a couple of films that somebody in the next generation will look back on and say, 'That was an important movie'.

"If I was just talking from a professional standpoint and my legacy as an actor it would just be to have at least one or two movies that the next generation might say, 'Oh, you've gotta see that'."

And does he believe he has achieved that yet?

"I think I have," he says, earnestly.

"But there's a lot of films that are lost in the pages of history - and only as history unfolds will that play itself out as the truth."

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Leonardo Reflects on Stardom, His Legacy and Love
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