Leonardo DiCaprio has been doing this acting lark for a long old time.
It’s four decades since he kicked off his career as a wee boy in the kid’s TV show Romper Room (cute).
It’s a little over 30 years since he first hit Hollywood, impressing the heck out of the critics in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and earning his first of many Oscar nominations.
Oh, then there was a little flick called Titanic, which saw him hit the big time, and since then everything from Romeo + Juliet to The Great Gatsby, The Revenant to The Wolf Of Wall Street has been added to his very glittering CV.
Leo isn’t the most forthcoming on private matters and has had what is generally referred to as a ‘colourful’ private life.
Recently he started dating 22-year-old model Camila Morrone – who is, yup, half his age, as would be pointed out far, far more if it were the other way round.
He’s also partial to a spot of diva-dom, if recent reports that the crew on Once Upon A Time… were told never to look him in the eye are to be believed.
Still, his new mate Brad, who plays the best pal of Leo’s character Rick, a fading TV star struggling to remain relevant in 1960s Hollywood, doesn’t agree.
‘He’s a good egg, and I’m really happy the restraining order was lifted off me, so we were able to work together,’ Brad joked.
‘His character is hilarious.
‘He throws one of the best tantrums ever laid down on film.’
Leo talks fame, Brad, and feeling like an outsider in Hollywood…
How do you deal with fame?
I don’t know. I grew up in this industry, so many of my friends are actors.
I know how hard it is to get work, and I know how lucky I was to be in the right place at the right time.
Had that not happened, my life would be drastically different.
What would you say to anyone who wants to become an actor?
The cool thing about making movies, and the first thing I say to anyone who asks about working in movies and getting into this industry, is that what you do is burned on to celluloid history for all time.
I’m like, ‘Start to watch them. Go and see what has been done before you. Try to measure yourself up to some of the greats and then start from there.’
I endlessly watch movies and I am blown away by what has been done in cinema past.
You must be able to take your pick when it comes to movies, what made you go for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood?
When Quentin Tarantino calls you, whether you are on planet Earth or Mars, you pay attention!
It’s a throwback to the type of Hollywood epics we don’t get to see any more.
It’s about Hollywood and two outsiders trying to make their way in a changing world in 1969.
The industry has passed them by, the world has passed them by.
I was immediately fascinated by the story of them trying to get a foot into this new world.
Have you ever felt like an outsider in Hollywood?
Absolutely. I think everyone at some point in their career has felt like an outsider.
I did when I was first starting out, and it felt like this mythical world where a fairy godmother would come to your house and pick you.
We all know we wouldn’t be sitting here doing what we are doing had we not had that moment of luck.
And your character isn’t lucky!
Rick is an out-of-work actor.
Cliff (Brad Pitt) is his stunt double and best friend.
These guys are dinosaurs.
My character is grappling with his own mortality, his own insecurity, the fact he may never work in this industry.
Quentin gave both me and Brad this incredible back story for our characters.
He came to us with a bible of their work and their friendship together, what they have been through.
He’s a man falling apart. I wanted to portray him as a train wreck!
What was it like working with Brad Pitt for the first time?
There was an incredible ease and comfort getting to work alongside Brad.
We grew up in the same generation and got our start around the same time.
He is not only a terrific actor, but he is a professional.
I have to say it was incredibly easy.
‘This film was a joy to make’
Brad Pitt, 55, reveals more about what it’s really like on the set of an epic movie, and the icons he met along the way
What was it like when you all got together?
It was a great ceremony reading the script.
We all went to Quentin’s house individually and all got the same one copy of the script.
I went back a second time and the script had got more coffee-stained and dog-eared.
And what was filming like?
Quentin keeps such a verve and a big energy.
What he so brilliantly put into these characters is this time where the industry is changed and we are left behind.
There was a loss of innocence and that’s in the characters Quentin created.
It’s a joy to make a film with him.
What kind of prep did you do to play Cliff Booth?
We talked a lot about the stuntman-actor relationship.
I got to meet Bud Ekins, who was Steve McQueen’s stuntman (Damian Lewis plays Steve McQueen in the film).
Their’s was a legendary relationship.
He did the jump for The Great Escape and got Steve McQueen into motorcycles.
Did you get to meet any other older Hollywood icons?
We got to talk to Burt Reynolds, who was originally going to play George Spahn (who owned the Spahn ranch, which he rented out to film makers and housed Charles Manson and his followers – Bruce Dern played Spahn after Burt died).
We had rehearsals before he passed.
I was surprised what a joy that was and how giving he was.
I was really moved by it because so much of my childhood was watching Burt Reynolds.
He was the biggest thing around in the late 1970s.
Truth meets fiction
While Leo and Brad’s characters in Once Upon A Time In America are fictional, the movie merges the land of make-believe with the all too real and horrific events surrounding the Manson family.
She was killed along with four friends by the Manson Family (a murderous cult led by Charles Manson, played by Damon Herriman) at her home when she was eight-and-a-half-months pregnant with the child of her husband, director Roman Polanski.
‘It was sometimes very sad to be that closely connected with real-life Sharon,’ said Margot.
‘Suddenly the tragedy of it all would hit you, and you’d be tremendously sad, but other times she made me feel so happy.’
A cinema slice of life
Leonardo DiCaprio says we should all go and see this movie because it is unique.
‘It’s a slice of life.
‘It’s a day in the life of these people who are within and without.
‘With the undercurrent of the Manson girls and how that really changed America and culture forever, 1969 was not just a seminal year as far as changing cinematic history, but also the world.
‘So many radical movements were happening during that time period.’
When fantasy meets reality
Margot wore Sharon’s own jewellery in the movie, as well as a pair of her yellow hot pants, and she talked to those close to Sharon before filming.
‘They all said how kind, loving and good-hearted she was.
‘I was fortunate enough to step onto set with Debra Tate’s blessing, Sharon’s sister.’
– NB: Once Upon A Time In America is released in the UK on August 14