DiCaprio goes to extremes for 'The Revenant'

LOS ANGELES -- Alejandro G. Inarritu knew Leonardo DiCaprio would go to the ends of the earth to make the 19th century survival epic "The Revenant" exactly as the famously meticulous director wanted.

See Full Article

For Inarritu, DiCaprio was the best person to play Hugh Glass, a real life fur trapper who survived a bear mauling and then went to find his mates who left him for dead in the unforgiving wilderness. Over the course of the nearly yearlong production, the Oscar-nominated actor and environmentalist proved his commitment over and over. He ate raw bison. He stripped naked in sub-zero temperatures. He even jumped into an icy river. But, early on, Inarritu had one very specific worry: Could DiCaprio grow a beard?

"You cannot shoot this film with a fake beard. It would look terrible," Inarritu said in a recent interview. "Not every man grows so much hair in his face. That was a bet."

Thankfully for the director, DiCaprio sprouted a gnarly, unruly beard that becomes a symbol of where exactly his character is on his journey, and how deeply he's devolved. Makeup added dirt on a daily basis, and a combination of glycerin and grit gave his hair that unwashed, bloody look - the look of someone who'd survived a bear attack.

It's a minor thing, and perhaps the easiest test DiCaprio had to endure to make the sprawling epic, but it's one of those details that illustrate the overall production's commitment to authenticity.

"It's a really primal story of man and the natural world," said DiCaprio in a recent phone interview. "It's almost biblical."

In an era of computer generated imagery and other post-production fixes, this was an unconventional shoot from the outset. Inarritu traveled with his crew to Calgary, Alberta and then to Argentina when the Canadian snow melted earlier than expected. As if shooting on location isn't hard enough, he and cinematographer Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki also opted to shoot only in natural light, giving the production a mere 90 minutes a day to achieve complex, highly choreographed long takes. The duo had done this before in "Birdman," but never in the unpredictable wilderness.

But DiCaprio knew very well what he was signing up for.

"When you're out in the elements like this - and there are people who have much harder jobs than people making a movie - but you just appreciate the endurance of man and how we're able to adapt to circumstances," DiCaprio said. "You're signing on to find elements that will ultimately transform the narrative and find the poetry. ... It was all basically us really putting ourselves in this environment and seeing what happens."

Partly by nature of the story and partly for the sake of his character, DiCaprio largely isolated himself from the rest of the cast, including his friend Tom Hardy.

He studied the life of Hugh Glass and the lives of fur trappers at the time. He learned and practiced the choreography for the shots, too. But when it came time for the cameras to roll, everything became very animalistic - a largely silent performance rooted in instinct and reaction.

"For me it was about really thinking these thoughts and really trying to feel this man's pain," DiCaprio said.

"Leo thinks like a filmmaker more than an actor," Inarritu said. "He understands the whole. He was able to be not only a machine doing exactly what we agreed in a natural way but at the same time be absolutely present to react to any improvisation. That's when I felt that this is one of the greatest actors."

Little remains of DiCaprio's full mountain man transformation externally. Production wrapped. He shed the beard. The bumps and bruises healed. But the grit of the shoot, the trials and tribulations, the tension of getting that perfect shot, it's all left on the screen - particularly in the bear attack.

"I think it will go down in history as one of the most voyeuristic action sequences ever created," DiCaprio said. "You feel the blood and the sweat. You almost smell the bear. It accomplishes what movies do at their best which is to really make you feel like the rest of the world has evaporated and you're singularly in that moment."

Inarritu wants to keep the specifics of how exactly he achieved such a harrowing sequence to himself. Revealing the process would destroy the magic of it all, he said.

"I wanted for people (to) feel the cold, smell the fear," he said. "It was difficult but that's what we were supposed to do. Nobody should care. Nobody should be bothered with having a good time or not. That's not the purpose of doing a film."

"Judging by the results I would not change a bit."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • 'The Hitman's Bodyguard' review: Bloody buddy flick is par for the course

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    At once reassuringly familiar - even starchy - and yet oddly unsatisfying, "The Hitman's Bodyguard" is meat-and-potatoes moviemaking at its most fungible. Co-starring Ryan Reynolds as Michael Bryce, a disgraced security expert seeking redemption, and Samuel L. Source
  • Taylor Swift donates to sexual assault charity

    Entertainment CTV News
    Pop superstar Taylor Swift has donated to a US charity that supports victims of sexual assault after winning a groping lawsuit against a former radio DJ, the organization confirmed Thursday. Joyful Heart Foundation, a national organization working to transform society's response to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, declined to disclose the amount of the donation. Source
  • Justin Theroux could have be wife's co-star - but he slept through 'Friends' auction

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Jennifer Aniston’s husband Justin Theroux was almost her Friends co-star, but he slept through his audition. The actor insists he has no regrets about missing out on a role on the hit sitcom - because he wouldn’t have been able to handle the level of fame his wife and her castmates had to endure. Source
  • 'Disposable Red Woman' art lays corpse in Calgary streets to depict 'brutal reality' facing Indigenous women

    Entertainment CBC News
    A bloodied sheet shrouds what looks to be a dead body, laid atop an Indigenous blanket in the middle of a busy downtown Calgary avenue. It's a graphic piece, evoking emotions that range from shock and discomfort to indifference from pedestrians as they pass by. Source
  • Steven Soderbergh unretires for 'Logan Lucky' [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK - “Populist Pictures” reads the buzzer to Steven Soderbergh’s Tribeca office. You might easily mistake it as ironic. It’s a grand title for a little nameplate on an otherwise nondescript Manhattan building. But he means it. Source
  • HBO shuts down social media breach, on the heels of Games of Thrones episode leaks

    Entertainment CBC News
    HBO says it has regained control of its social media accounts after the latest security breach to hit the entertainment company. The hacking group OurMine on Wednesday night took over several of HBO's Twitter accounts, including ones for Game of Thrones and John Oliver's show. Source
  • Shania Twain announces extensive Now tour for 2018

    Entertainment CBC News
    Canadian pop-country superstar Shania Twain previously said she was done with touring, but has unveiled plans for a North American road show in 2018. She announced the tour and performed the song Swinging with My Eyes Closed from her upcoming new album on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday. Source
  • Shania Twain announces new tour with several Canadian stops

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — Shania Twain has announced plans for a 2018 tour. The Canadian country-pop superstar will first stop in Tacoma, Wash., on May 3 and will perform through the rest of the summer. The tour ends Aug. Source
  • Quebecer seeks to file class action against Netflix over fee hikes without warning

    Entertainment CBC News
    A Quebec man wants millions in compensation from Netflix on behalf of subscribers in the province, alleging the company violated strict consumer rights rules when it upped their fees. The class action document filed in Quebec Superior Court earlier this month seeks permission to sue the popular video streaming service for allegedly charging higher fees unilaterally. Source
  • Another HBO hack? HBO regains control of hacked social media accounts

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — HBO says it has regained control of its social media accounts after the latest security breach to hit the entertainment company. The hacking group OurMine on Wednesday night took over several of HBO’s Twitter accounts, including ones for “Game of Thrones” and John Oliver’s show. Source