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Leonardo DiCaprio on Shutter Island

Published February 18, 2010 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Paramount Pictures
Shutter Island Shutter Island

Shutter Island is the fourth collaboration between star Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese. In this scary flick, DiCaprio plays a U.S. Marshal investigating an escape from a mental institution. The films could not be more different but their relationship remains the same.

DiCaprio Visits Shutter Island


“For me it’s very simple,” DiCaprio said. “He is Martin Scorsese and he is the consummate director of my time, I believe. That relationship was forged with another actor, in his work with De Niro and very early on in his career his work with Bob and that relationship that they have together not only made some of the most memorable, powerful films in cinema history but it forged something and I believe that the actor that he hires, whoever that might be, he gives full responsibility to them to create the character and through that performance and through what the actor’s trying to search for, he’s also simultaneously creating the narrative.”

Does that mean Shutter Island is as much a Leonardo DiCaprio film as a Scorsese picture? “He looks toward the actor that he works with to create the tone of the film that he’s making and that’s a partnership, you know what I mean? So in that dynamic, if there are differences, if there’s a difference of opinion, I’m allowed to, or any other actor’s allowed to play those things out and go through that cathartic experience. There’s no wrong choice to make. He’ll be there subtly steering the ship at the end of the day but he allows you to sit in your characters shoes and make those choices and that is empowering as an actor.”


Shutter Island Shutter Island


Shutter Island Shutter Island

Certainly Shutter Island put the onus on DiCaprio’s performance to make the film work. “I have to say it wasn’t until we actually were on set together sort of playing some of these scenes out that I really understood the sort of depth of trauma, the depth of emotion and the places that we needed to go to with the character in order to make this story believable and make the film work. The story really kept pushing us to places that I don’t think we planned on. I mean, I would come to the set with specific intentions for a scene and then realize and say to Marty, ‘Wow, this is the most important scene in the movie, isn’t it?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, yeah it is. If you don’t get this right, then this isn’t as realistic as possible, the audience doesn’t connect with this guy here, the whole story falls apart, doesn’t it?’ And he said, ‘Yeah you’re absolutely right. Now get in there and do it.’”

The boys ate that pressure for breakfast though. “It was a sequence of situations like that, that lead us to try to paint this portrait of this man that is this complex jigsaw puzzle. It’s like an emotional layer cake that just kept getting deeper and deeper and deeper and it really surprised me. It really did and it’s a testament to this screenplay and the original material too because there’s only so many layers to this project and there are so many layers to this character that until we were actually there doing it. We didn’t truly understand the depth to him, I don’t think. So we had to physically, arduously do some of these scenes and it surprised me, it really did.”

Shutter Island opens to theaters on February 19th.

For the trailer, posters and more movie info, go to the Shutter Island Movie Page.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Paramount Pictures
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