Boulder Weekly on Facebook Boulder Weekly on Twitter Boulder Weekly on Tumblr Boulder Weekly's RSS feed Email Contact

Find Local Events (pick a date)
 
Browse Boulder real estate by neighborhood, school and zip code along with other homes for sale in Colorado on COhomefinder.com
Browse Boulder real estate by neighborhood, school and zip code along with other homes for sale in Colorado on COhomefinder.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Home / Articles / Entertainment / Screen /  'Shutter Island' star Leonardo DiCaprio on why he keeps working for Martin Scorsese
. . . . . . .
Give Through iGivefirst
Friday, February 12,2010

'Shutter Island' star Leonardo DiCaprio on why he keeps working for Martin Scorsese

By Rene Rodriguez

"Shutter Island" marks Leonardo DiCaprio's fourth collaboration with director Martin Scorsese. It may also be his most intense, which says a lot when you consider that their previous three films were "Gangs of New York," "The Aviator" and "The Departed."

The movie, which opens Friday, is based on Dennis Lehane's novel and is set in 1954, when U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) and his partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) investigate the disappearance of a patient at a hospital for the criminally insane located on a remote island.

With a hurricane bearing down, an uncooperative doctor (Ben Kingsley) who seems to be hiding something and a population of murderers and rapists, Shutter Island ranks high on the list of the world's worst places to visit. But Scorsese's superb and imaginative direction, along with DiCaprio's ferocious performance as the frustrated detective, is cause for film buffs to celebrate.

The Miami Herald spoke briefly with DiCaprio from New York about the making of "Shutter Island" and his continuing relationship with Scorsese, which keeps bearing career-high work from the actor.

Q: "Shutter Island" is a difficult movie to write about, because so much of the story hinges on information the audience doesn't learn until the last few minutes. But it didn't seem like Scorsese went out of his way to trick viewers or try to keep them from figuring out what was going on. There's no big 'Gotcha!' moment or anything like that. Instead of going for a" Sixth Sense" kind of thing, the film stays true to the experience of your character and what he's going through.

A: That's right. The sheer nature of the narrative was extremely complex and a kind of balancing act. Teddy has a very complicated past, and the whole movie deals with his memories, which can also be interpreted as dreams. Scorsese wanted to emphasize a layer of ambiguity with the character and the storyline. I don't think he wanted it to be a gimmicky ending or one of those popcorn reveals.

Q: The story also takes you to an incredibly dark place that I had never seen depicted in a movie quite in this manner.

A: What struck me about doing this character and this story as a whole is how incredibly emotional it was and how much it explored the dark side of humanity. At the end of the day, this movie is really a character piece. All of the genre stuff — the Gothic horror and thriller aspects of it — sort of dissolve away as you get down to the core of the movie, which is human trauma and the ability to recover from that. Or not.

Q: When I first heard Scorsese was going to direct" Shutter Island," I imagined it would be something like" Cape Fear" — one of his just-for-the-fun-of-it movies, a sort of top-notch thriller that would be fun to watch. But" Shutter Island" turns out to be pretty harrowing and deadly serious. It's not minor Scorsese at all.

A: I know what you mean. I wasn't even prepared for it when I watched it as an audience member. That's the great thing about working with a director like Martin Scorsese, because it's never just going to be about sticking to a particular genre. He's a true artist in every sense of the word. You do get that entertainment value, but at the end of the day I think "Shutter Island" is in line with the type of movies he does best. I'm not comparing it to his past, brilliant works, because those are some of the best movies of all time. But when you think of "King of Comedy" or "Taxi Driver," this one is also about a troubled character and exploring their darkness in a way that is sometimes uncomfortable to watch.

Q: A lot of directors with careers as long as Scorsese's tend to peak at a certain point, and then their films start showing the director's age. But Scorsese is still experimenting and trying new things at 67. There's a long shot in this movie that pans from left to right as a group of Nazi prisoners is being executed that made my jaw drop. It's a beautifully directed movie.

A: He's constantly pushing himself, even though he's made so many movies. A part of me is regretful in some sense, because I'm so focused on what I have to do when I'm working with him that I don't get a chance at all to hang out on the sidelines and watch his process. A lot of that experience — being able to watch Mozart at work — is diminished by the process of having to concentrate on my job. That's just the nature of it.

Q: You've worked with an impressive roster of directors — Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Sam Mendes. How is Scorsese different?

A: It's hard to explain his process. There's nothing distinctive about the way Scorsese directs that is much different or far superior to other directors of his caliber. But there's an undercurrent to what he's doing that's almost intangible. You can't put your finger on it. It's the way he deals with his actors, the way he edits small little moments and holds them, the way he'll push in with the camera in a way that's almost undetectable. And then when you see all the pieces of the puzzle, they make a beautiful tapestry. He's working on so many different levels simultaneously.

The one thing I can say with absolute clarity that is definitive about him is that he gives the actor complete authority with your character — lets you take responsibility. Even if you go off in a different direction that he doesn't feel is right for the film, he'll let you go there and discover that for yourself, because he expects his actors to ultimately help him with the movie he's trying to make. He explores the movie through his actors, and that's amazing. And kind of rare.

Q: You've played some fairly intense characters in Scorsese's movies. How has that experience affected your approach to acting as a whole? Do you work differently now or look for different things in scripts than you did before?

A: One thing I've learned is to be open to discovering the character as you are making the film. Scorsese and I both came into this film knowing very much what the genre was and what kind of film we were making stylistically. But we didn't really understand what emotional depths we needed to go until we were on the set that day. There was a scene in the script that was very simply described, and it wasn't until we were getting ready to shoot it that I said "Wow, this is actually the most important moment in the entire movie!" And Marty said "Yep, it is." And I realized on the spot that I would really need to push it. I can't talk specifically about what that scene is, because it gives away too much of the movie. But that whole sequence by the lake is some of the most intense work I have ever done in my LIFE.

(c) 2010, The Miami Herald.

Visit The Miami Herald Web edition on the World Wide Web at http://www.herald.com/

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
POST A COMMENT
No Registration Required
 

Also from Rene Rodriguez:

Close
Close