ART IMITATES LIFE

LEONARDO DICAPRIO HAS PLENTY TO DRAW UPON IN HIS ROLE OF AN AC­TOR

Life & Style Weekend - - SCREENLIFE - WORDS: SEANNA CRONIN Once Upon a Time in Hol­ly­wood opens on Au­gust 15.

Play­ing a washed-up TV cow­boy ap­pealed in more ways than one to Leonardo Dicaprio. The Os­car win­ner teams up with Brad Pitt in direc­tor Quentin Tarantino’s 1960s com­edy drama Once Upon a Time in Hol­ly­wood.

In the film, faded tele­vi­sion ac­tor Rick Dal­ton (Dicaprio) and his stunt dou­ble Cliff Booth (Pitt) strive to achieve fame and suc­cess in the film in­dus­try dur­ing the fi­nal years of Hol­ly­wood’s golden age in Los An­ge­les.

The role not only re­unites Dicaprio with Tarantino but also his Wolf of Wall Street co-star Margot Robbie. The Queens­land-born ac­tress plays Rick’s neigh­bour, model and ac­tress Sharon Tate.

Q: What ap­pealed to you about the char­ac­ter?

A: When I first read the script, besides the idea of Rick be­ing an ac­tor that’s ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a shelf life, I re­alised that it’s about a per­son that’s deal­ing with their own mor­tal­ity, in a lot of ways, and com­ing to terms with that.

Q: Were you sur­prised that you’ve never worked with Brad be­fore?

A: Yeah. I mean, we were on the same (’80s–’90s) TV show, Grow­ing Pains. We’d never really worked to­gether though. It’s in­ter­est­ing be­cause as we – Quentin and Brad and I – started talk­ing, we re­alised that we all came around in this in­dus­try in the

same era and time, in that early to mid-’90s time frame. So we have that prior ref­er­ence. Q: How did you find work­ing with him? A: It was fan­tas­tic. He’s an amaz­ing ac­tor, so pro­fes­sional and so easy to work with. There was this great com­fort we had, not only from work­ing to­gether but we knew so much of our char­ac­ters’ back sto­ries given to us by Quentin that it made way for great mo­ments of im­pro­vi­sa­tion. There was just this nat­u­ral thing that came out in us. Not a lot needed to be said. We un­der­stood the bond be­tween our char­ac­ters. We un­der­stood it im­plic­itly. We lit­er­ally had fold­ers of what our his­tory was to­gether: how long we’ve been in the in­dus­try, how Cliff had had my back through the hard times.

Q: Have you ever bonded with a stunt dou­ble?

A: To me, Brad’s char­ac­ter Cliff is not just a stunt dou­ble. He’s more of an all-pur­pose Swiss army knife to my char­ac­ter – he’s a shoul­der to cry on, he’s a psy­chi­a­trist, he’s a body­guard, he’s an as­sis­tant, he’s ev­ery­thing. Rick pays him and gets 12 other jobs into the bar­gain. Rick keeps him work­ing but he’s there for him. I’ve had guys like that. You’re off in frick­ing Africa for eight months and you’ve got that per­son who’s go­ing to be there, just to be si­lent and watch TV with you when you don’t want to be alone.

Q: The movie talks a lot about frus­trated ex­pec­ta­tions. Is that some­thing you still find your­self deal­ing with?

A: When you’re an ac­tor you play dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters – it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily need to be your own life, your own ex­pe­ri­ence. I mean, that’s a part of what we do as artists. Hav­ing said that, I felt com­pletely con­nected with this char­ac­ter. I felt like I knew who this man was. I have a lot of friends who are ac­tors, peo­ple that I grew up with, ever since I was

13. I know the strug­gles. And not only the strug­gles but the im­mense waves of in­se­cu­rity that one might have, feel­ing like ev­ery­thing’s sort of falling apart. I don’t know why but I im­me­di­ately con­nected and un­der­stood what this per­son is per­son­ally go­ing through.

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