Read Excerpt of Leo's Interview below where he talks about the movie
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — For all the challenges involved in portraying real-life people onscreen, Leonardo DiCaprio found at least one big advantage in playing the title role of “J. Edgar.”
“To me, you couldn’t write a character like J. Edgar Hoover and have it be believable,” DiCaprio said with a laugh during a press conference last week at the swanky Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
“He was a Crockpot of eccentricities. We couldn’t even fit all his eccentricities into this movie … but the fact is that this man was if not the most powerful man in the last century, one of the most in our country. And he lived with his mother until he was 40 years old.”
In “J. Edgar,” DiCaprio – who turns 37 on Friday, the day the film opens nationwide — portrays the influential, enigmatic and controversial founding director of the FBI. The time-shifting biopic marks the movie star’s first collaboration with Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood, but it isn’t his first time bringing a complex fact-based person to the big screen. The Hollywood native has often won acclaim portraying real-life people, from drug-addicted street tough Jim Carroll in “The Basketball Diaries” to talented conman Frank Abagnale Jr. in “Catch Me If You Can” to reclusive business tycoon Howard Hughes in “The Aviator.”
As with his Academy Award-nominated turn in Martin Scorsese’s 2004 Hughes biopic, DiCaprio is earning Oscar buzz with his portrayal of Hoover. Along with his best actor nod for “The Aviator,” DiCaprio has been nominated for best actor for 2007’s “Blood Diamond” and best supporting actor in 1994’s “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” but he has not yet taken home an Oscar. The potential for Academy Award glory aside, DiCaprio said he and Eastwood were compelled to take on the project after reading Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black’s script. which created “a very fascinating portrait” of Hoover. The film delves into Hoover’s relationships with the few closest to him: his demanding mother Annie (Judi Dench), his loyal secretary Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts) and his faithful assistant director Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), with whom many believe he shared a romantic interest.
“He was this incredibly ambitious young genius that … created this federal bureau that to this day is revered and feared. Yet he was a mama’s boy,” DiCaprio said. “He was incredibly repressed emotionally. His only outlet was his job. He wasn’t allowed to have any kind of personal relationships — or he felt that — and no matter what his sexual orientation was, he was devoted to his job. And power was paramount to him, and holding on to that power at all costs was the most important thing in his life,” DiCaprio said.
In nonlinear fashion, “J. Edgar” touches on several high and low points in Hoover’s nearly half-century tenure with the agency that became the FBI. including his investigation into the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh Jr., his advocacy for the development of forensic science and his underhanded penchant for collecting dirt on his political enemies.
“You can’t deny that he was a patriot, but at the same time, his tactics were pretty deplorable,” DiCaprio said. “What was I was fascinated by was his (Black’s) take on entering J. Edgar Hoover’s career during a time of almost a terrorist invasion by communists, the Red Scare, that sort of paranoia that was infused in our country, and the sort of lawlessness of these bank robbers that were going from state to state and becoming free men when they crossed state lines, and how J. Edgar Hoover really transformed the police system in America.”
“Of course, the story goes on to his later years when he became, in essence, a political dinosaur who didn’t adapt to the changing of our country,” he added. “When the Civil Rights Movement came along, he saw that as an uprising of the people.” He didn’t adapt or change to our country, and he stayed in power way too long and he didn’t listen to his own critics. He was a staunch believer in his moral beliefs and his beliefs about what was right for our country, and therefore, his career ended on a failed note, in my opinion.”
Playing the bureaucrat as a young go-getter required DiCaprio to dye his hair brown, wear dark contact lenses and don mouth appliances, a nose augmenter and a prosthetic double chin. But portraying Hoover in his 70s forced the handsome star to undergo an even more dramatic metamorphasis involving full facial prosthetics, a bald cap with punched-in hair and prosthetic hands. He credited Eastwood for creating an immersive environment on set and for reserving the latter-day scenes for the end of the production.
“We got to get our sort of footing in the characters, and then … the last few weeks, we sat in the makeup chair for five or six or seven hours sometimes,” DiCaprio said. “The challenge for me was not just the prosthetic work and how to move like an older man, but more so how to have 50 years of experience in the workplace and talk to a young Robert F. Kennedy as though he was some political upstart that didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.”
The star likened preparing for the part to taking a college course on Hoover. “As an actor, I just love researching this stuff. We got to take a trip to Washington, and I got to meet people … that knew him and really understand and capture this guy to the best of my abilities. That’s half the fun of making a movie for me
interview source: BAM
STAY TUNE FOR THE OSCARS IN LESS THAN 3 MONTHS ON SUNDAY FEBRUARY 26 2012. I am trying to tone up to fit in that dress - cos my husband Leo and I will be walking the red carpet and yes we will ride in in our environmentally friendly friendly PRIUS with our 6 kids in tow. :)) - Dont hate!