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

  • Tambor doesn't see how he can return to 'Transparent'

    Entertainment CTV News
    Jeffrey Tambor, second from left, a cast member in the Amazon series "Transparent," poses with fellow cast members, from left, Kathryn Hahn, Jay Duplass and Amy Landecker during a ceremony awarding him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Tuesday, Aug. Source
  • Jeffrey Tambor doesn't see how he can return to Transparent

    Entertainment CBC News
    Actor Jeffrey Tambor says he doesn't see how he can return to the Amazon series Transparent following two allegations of sexual harassment against him. In an ambiguous statement Sunday, Tambor referenced what he calls a "politicized atmosphere" that has afflicted the set. Source
  • Cosby Show actor Earle Hyman dead at 91

    Entertainment CBC News
    Earle Hyman, a veteran actor of stage and screen who was widely known for playing Russell Huxtable on The Cosby Show, has died. Jordan Strohl, a representative for The Actors Fund, says that Hyman died Friday at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey. Source
  • Women of colour face different battle in sexual harassment scandal

    Entertainment CBC News
    In the overwhelming number of sexual harassment and assault complaints being revealed en masse, it's easy to overlook. We often miss what we can't see. But if you're a woman of colour, you notice. Since allegations surfaced against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, provoking a landslide of more high-profile perpetrators including James Toback, Kevin Spacey, Brett Ratner and Louis C.K. Source
  • Model accuses Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Model Keri Claussen Khalighi has come forward to accuse Def Jam Records mogul Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct in 1991 when she was 17 years old. In a report Sunday in the Los Angeles Times, Khalighi says that Simmons coerced her to perform a sex act and later penetrated her without her consent. Source
  • Model accuses music mogul Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct

    Entertainment CBC News
    Model Keri Claussen Khalighi has come forward to accuse Def Jam Records mogul Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct in 1991 when she was 17 years old. In a report Sunday in the Los Angeles Times, Khalighi says that Simmons coerced her to perform a sex act and later penetrated her without her consent. Source
  • 'Justice League' disappoints with US$96 million opening

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Only in the modern era of superhero films could a US$96 million opening weekend be considered anything less than impressive. But that's the situation Warner Bros. and DC's "Justice League" is in. Source
  • Longtime country singer-songwriter Mel Tillis dead at 85

    Entertainment CBC News
    Mel Tillis, the affable longtime country star who wrote hits for Kenny Rogers, Ricky Skaggs and many others, and overcame a stutter to sing on dozens of his own singles, has died. A spokesman for Tillis, Don Murry Grubbs, said Tillis died early Sunday at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla. Source
  • Longtime country singer, songwriter Mel Tillis dies

    Entertainment CTV News
    NASHVILLE -- Mel Tillis, the affable longtime country star who wrote hits for Kenny Rogers, Ricky Skaggs and many others, and overcame a stutter to sing on dozens of his own singles, has died. A spokesman for Tillis, Don Murry Grubbs, said Tillis died early Sunday at Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida. Source
  • American Music Awards reflect 2017 pop music, in which male acts dominate

    Entertainment CBC News
    The performers at the 2017 American Music Awards are evenly split between men and women, but the nominees? Not so much. In categories like artist of the year and favourite pop/rock album, where men and women compete, no female acts are in contention. Source