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 Leonardo DiCaprio, The Star who helped turn Hollywood Green

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Peachesmia
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PostSubject: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Star who helped turn Hollywood Green   Sun Nov 16, 2008 1:48 pm

Nov. 15, 2008

Leonardo DiCaprio can claim, with some justification, to be the star that helped turn Hollywood green. It was he who was at the vanguard of the move towards eco-driving when he bought a Toyota Prius more than seven years ago. He was followed by everyone from George Clooney to Harrison Ford and Cameron Diaz.

However, unlike some stars, who supplement their fashionable hybrid car with a Hummer, DiCaprio puts more of his money where his mouth his: rather than fly in a private jet he insists on travelling on commercial airlines, and his recent films - including a documentary on the environment - suggest a passion that is more than a publicity stunt.

In fact, when we meet in the week of the American election, he can hardly contain his excitement at the result that saw Barack Obama storm to victory. "That was a present and a celebration all rolled into one," he says, explaining that he has met the president-elect. "I feel proud to be an American again. He has more charisma than any actor I've ever met and he also cares about the environment."

In a move that would have DiCaprio nodding his head with approval, Obama plans to convert the government vehicle fleet to plug-in hybrids that will run on electricity generated by the national grid.

"I am an eco-geek and like to endorse new technology," says DiCaprio. "We have to find an alternative to fuel which is going to run out. It is only a matter of time. Thinking about the future got me started in the first place." As well as his Toyota Prius, his latest car is equally in tune with the times - a BMW H7, which runs on hydrogen.

The actor wasn't always so planet-conscious: his first car, bought when he was 16, was a 1969 Ford Mustang, one of the original muscle cars. "It broke down on the freeway three times," he says. "I nearly died [of embarrassment]."

His conversion can be traced back eight years to when he was cast as the star in the film version of The Beach, the book by Alex Garland that tells the story of a group of backpackers who find an Eden-like island in Thailand - but which they gradually corrupt. The story was mirrored in reality with reports that the filming process led to the ruination of the Thai beach used as a location.

DiCaprio's response when he returned was to buy a Prius and take up the environmental mantle. "It occurred to me that we inevitably ruin wherever we go," he says. "What starts off as paradise does not seem to last too long. It was an important time for me. I had to face life head-on."

Today DiCaprio looks relaxed and fit in an olive green sweatshirt. He turned 34 last week and his 6ft frame has filled out, but his face remains unblemished and he hardly looks any older than when he first began being noticed in films such as What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) and Romeo + Juliet (1996).

He says acting was a way out of poverty for him. He was brought up among the mixture of run-down shops and tawdry cafes that make up the seedier side of Hollywood. His hippie parents - German mother Irmelin and Italian father George - split up when he was a baby, and he was raised in a cluster of streets known as Syringe Alley, because junkies dropped their heroin needles there. "Money was always on my mind when I was growing up," he says. "If I am honest, that is what inspired me to come into acting. I was aware that a lot of people in Los Angeles were earning great money.

"At the same time, I was always wondering how we were going to afford this and that. My mother did not make a big thing of it, but it was impossible to ignore. Acting seemed to be a shortcut to getting out of the mess."

Even he could not have dreamt of the success that was coming his way, however. In 1997 James Cameron was casting around for a working-class actor to play opposite Kate Winslet in the film Titanic. DiCaprio was perfect for the part, and the film went on to break all box office records, taking a massive $1.8 billion (1.2 billion) worldwide and making him one of the world's hottest young stars. He says the sudden mega-stardom was unnerving: on one occasion a fan in Paris fell to her knees and held on to his leg, refusing to let go.

"I have always been nervous of big-budget studio films," says DiCaprio. "The hype and the marketing frighten me. Overall, though, I was glad to be part of Titanic. As an actor I look at movies as a relevant art form, like a painting or sculpture. A hundred years from now, people will still be watching that movie."

Even so, he has spent most of the intervening years turning down films that he feared would thrust him back into the spotlight - Spider-Man was one - and he tried to manoeuvre himself away from the paparazzi with less mainstream movies such as last year's The 11th Hour, about the threat to the environment of global warming.

His latest film thriller, Body of Lies, from the respected British director Ridley Scott, tells the story of murky goings on in the world of counter-terrorism. In one scene his character, CIA man Roger Ferris, is tortured to extract information. "I was strapped up to a wooden table for hours and hours, with my hands wired to it," he says. "There was enough stuff there to freak me out - yet it was a film, not real life.

"Body of Lies was probably the toughest film since Titanic. I found the whole thing difficult to deal with. Fortunately, as an actor, I am not the type who goes home and broods about my character. I can go from playing the role on a film set to being myself in a very short space of time. I especially needed that sort of approach on Body of Lies, because, otherwise, the part could have been harmful. As it was, the only mental pressure was waiting and wondering about what would go on screen."

The film is set mainly in the Middle East and DiCaprio and his co-star Russell Crowe spent months on location. "It was quite a shock to be suddenly filming in Morocco, alongside Russell, being shot at from helicopters," he says. "A lot of life is put on hold when you make these movies. Everything including personal relationships is put on ice when being on location for five or six months."

He gives the impression that he is glad to be back and taking it easy, but it is not just in his professional life that he yearns for a quieter time. There was a point a few years ago when he earned a reputation as a hard partying, hard drinking playboy with a string of glamorous girlfriends. Those days, you suspect, are behind him. "I celebrated my birthday over a quiet dinner with family and friends," he says. "Ten years ago, it would have been a giant party."

Rather than cruising Sunset Strip in his spare time, he now dreams of escaping and indulging in his distinctly nonHollywood passion for wildlife. "I am regularly able to escape to watch wildlife in Africa and South America," he says. "Looking at lions, elephants and zebras in the wild is a passion. When watching whales, it brings it home what a wonderful world it is out there. I've had pet dogs, frogs and even a lizard.

"Animals have always been a big passion for me and I remember, at one stage, wanting to be a travel agent so I could get out in the world."

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/men/article5155970.ece

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PostSubject: Re: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Star who helped turn Hollywood Green   Sun Nov 16, 2008 11:42 pm

Hey Cindy!
I love this interview.
it also has this.
thanks.


MY STUFF...

ON MY CD PLAYER

I am a fan of hip-hop, the band A Tribe Called Quest, in particular, and my friend Q-Tip. I have been trying to persuade him to put out another solo album and hes finally about to do so. Its called The Renaissance

ON MY DVD PLAYER

Every film with Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro and every film directed by Martin Scorsese. There are also old films: The Third Man, Lawrence of Arabia, Sunset Boulevard and East of Eden. One of my favourites is The Bicycle Thief, made in 1948 by the Italian director Vittorio De Sica

I WOULD NEVER THROW AWAY

I would never throw away my passport. I love travel and its like having a key to the rest of the world ... ah..a man after the Traveling Peanut's heart Smile

Very Happy Very Happy
I knew he liked rap but I love you
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