Manila Bulletin - 2013


Leonardo DiCaprio: ‘I Like to work with people I can trust’


Los Angeles – Leonardo DiCaprio is Hollywood personified. Glamorous. Handsome. Talented.

When the 38-year-old actor arrived in the room, he looked like he just stepped out of the pages of GQ magazine or some fashion shoot. But that’s just how Leo is – always dapper, confident and charming.

Portraying the role of the rich and enigmatic Jay Gatsby in the Baz Luhrmann-helmed movie, “The Great Gatsby,” Leo is perfect for the part. The movie, which is scheduled to open the 66th Cannes Film Festival, is an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel of the same title. It also stars Leo’s best friend Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke and Elizabeth Debicki.

Asked how challenging it was to do something as revered as “The Great Gatsby,” Leo replied, “Taking on a novel of this caliber that is this celebrated and so revered around the world is a very huge risk because you are interpreting a novel that’s considered a masterpiece.”

He added, “Then when you translate that to the cinematic form you have to make specific choices and do your own interpretation of that novel. So it was a very daunting task. I don’t know if I would have ventured into even attempting this subject matter had I not had two incredibly close allies – one is Baz who I have known since I was 18 so I’ve known him for 20 years; and Tobey, whom I virtually grew up with. I’ve known him since I was 12 years old and he’s essentially like family.”

The wonderful thing about working with people you trust, according to Leo, is that they could be honest with each other. He said, “We ventured into it with the partnership and understanding that we were going to be as honest as we could and cut-throat with each other as we could about the way we’d attempt to take on this masterpiece and be as direct as we possibly could with one another.”

As for working with his close friend Tobey, whom he first met while auditioning for the “Parenthood” series in 1990, Leo admitted, “It was an incredible experience to have Tobey there constantly. I am glad to have Baz there, too, and to have people who I knew I could be as honest as I possibly could with every single day on set. Because as much as this movie is Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation of ‘The Great Gatsby,’ which has a heightened aspect of reality, we wanted to remain as true to the novel as we possibly could because it’s called a masterpiece for a reason. It’s filled with nuance and it’s a very progressive novel for its period. It is timeless and it is a masterpiece.”

Asked what he would do to sweep a woman off her feet, Leo said he would not throw parties, give diamonds or truckloads of roses just like Gatsby. “I will just be myself,” he revealed. “I think that women ultimately don’t respond to those things. I think that they have to just feel comfortable with you. That’s all, you know. I think there is a lot of speculation for many different men as to what women are attracted to and there are many misconceptions. I don’t think women of quality don’t care about those things.”

So did he learn anything from Gatsby, we wondered. “Oh sure,” he quickly replied. “He had an enormous gift for hope. I think that we all need to have that. He was not in touch with reality but I think that we all connect with that and I have that, too.”