When Clint Eastwood calls you up and tells you you’re going to make a movie together, you don’t take time to think about it. You ask him where and when.
Leonardo DiCaprio has his pick of roles in Hollywood. He’s turned down hundreds of roles, and most of the ones that come his way don’t excite him anymore. But when Clint approached him to play closeted FBI legend, J. Edgar Hoover, he simply couldn’t refuse.
Leo opens about up about his role in the new issue of GQ magazine where he also dishes on his acting career, his father and why he’s a huge box office success. Here are some highlights from the magazine article, which is out on newsstands September 20, 2011.
On his massive box office success:
"Throughout my career, I never knew which movies of mine made money and which didn't. When Titanic came out, people would say, 'Do you realize what a success this is?' And I'd say, 'Yeah, yeah, it's a hit.' The [money] stuff never mattered to me until I was into my thirties and got interested in producing, and people would show me charts explaining what finances a movie, what you'll make from foreign, what you'll make from domestic, what you need to make an R-rated film that's a comedy versus a drama. But even now I say that unless you want to prove that you can carry a film with your name, continuously trying to achieve box-office success is a dead end."
On being introduced to acting:
"My introduction to acting in films was with De Niro in This Boy's Life. When I got the part I was 15, and somebody said, 'Do you realize who you're gonna work with?' I said, 'Yeah, I guess.' And they said, 'No, no, no. Go watch all of his films, and then go see these people's films.' So I obsessively watched films on VHS, and I remember feeling so overwhelmed by what had been done in cinema already. Watching a young Brando or James Dean or Montgomery Clift, I was like, Oh, my God, how can anyone ever hope to achieve that type of greatness?"
On his favorite generation:
"For my generation, it's always the '70s. That period where you felt like the hands were being dealt back in the director's favor. The studios realized that letting them tell their stories was something the audience had a hunger for. And of course, it all went awry. [They both laugh.] Taxi Driver to me is the ultimate independent-movie performance. Playing a character like Travis Bickle is every young actor's wet dream."
On his father influencing while roles he takes:
"My father has always been a huge force with me. I had passed on a script about the French poet Arthur Rimbaud [Total Eclipse]. He explained to me that Rimbaud was the James Dean of his time—a radical who took on the institution of poetry and turned it upside down. I did the movie, and I loved playing him. If I just waited for moments of I have to do this, I would do a movie only every four or five years."