The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprios starring role as a fur trapper in Alejandro G. Iñárritus The Revenant could earn the actor his sixth Oscar nomination. In conversation, the star opens up on physical challenges, historical details and cinematic ambitions.

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation. His first major film release was opposite Robert De Niro in 1993’s This Boy’s Life. His second, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. It is one of five Oscar nominations DiCaprio has received to date. After leading roles in The Basketball Diaries and Romeo + Juliet, he achieved international stardom with James Cameron’s Titanic, which remains one of the highest-grossing films of all time. Since then, DiCaprio has used his star status to continually produce challenging and acclaimed work with many of the greatest directors working today, including Steven Spielberg (Catch Me If You Can), Christopher Nolan (Inception), Ridley Scott (Body of Lies) and Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained). DiCaprio, who is also a successful producer and is well-known for his work as an environmentalist, has also collaborated with Martin Scorsese five times: on Gangs of New YorkThe AviatorThe DepartedShutter Island and The Wolf of Wall Street. In his new film, the highly-anticipated thriller, The Revenant, DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a fur trapper and frontiersman who is left for dead deep in the unchartered American wilderness by a traitorous member of his team, John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). With sheer will as his only weapon, Glass must navigate a hostile environment, a brutal winter and warring native tribes in a relentless quest to survive and exact vengeance on Fitzgerald. Inspired by a true story, the film is directed and co-written by renowned filmmaker and Academy Award-winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel).

Leonardo DiCaprio sat down for the following interview in New York on October 14, 2015.

What drew you to this project and this role?
What first drew me to this project was the prospect of working with Alejandro. He’s a great visionary, and there are very few filmmakers like him who can make a poetic, existential epic piece. Here, you have a linear story which is somewhat of a campfire legend of American history: the American survivalist, the fur trapper, the mountain man mauled by a bear, then traveling hundreds of miles through the harshest conditions, driven by instinct. But through Alejandro’s eyes it became something much more than that.  It tells a story of triumph, of the human spirit and what it is to overcome massive obstacles. It became less of a revenge story and something, I think, much more profound than that.

Was that always the ambition, to make it less linear and more…
‘poetic’, for want of a better word?
Yes – that was the intention for this film. To achieve this, we submerged ourselves in these elements and had to plan accordingly for what was going to happen. To bring the film to life, we worked for months to prepare for and execute well-choreographed shots, we learned everything we could about the time period – reading as much as we could – but at the end of the day, nature consumed all of it.  We tried our best to make this film like a documentary, and almost like virtual reality in a lot of ways. I think when people see this movie they’re going to feel submerged in a completely different world and a completely different and difficult time in history.   

read more in the print edition. 

Drama, USA 2015 Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Screenplay Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mark L. Smith
based on the novel by Michael Punke Cinematography Emmanuel Lubezki
Editing Stephen Mirrione Music Bryce Dessner, Carsten Nicolai 
Production Design Jack Fisk Costume Design Jacqueline West
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson, 
Grace Dove, Forrest Goodluck, Kristoffer Joner, Brad Carter
Distribution 20th Century Fox, 151 Minutes
Release January 15, 2016