According to the actor, a lot. Although DiCaprio’s portrayal of Calvin Candie, a vicious slave and plantation owner in Quentin Tarantino‘s violent Western drama, earned him a Golden Globe nomination, the role proved to be quite a departure from any character he’s portrayed on the big screen.
“He’s the most deplorable human being I’ve ever read in a screenplay in my life,” he said during a sit-down interview on Thursday’s Today show. “He’s rotting from the inside. He was a young Louis XIV that was born into a world of entitlement and lived his life essentially owning other people and having his life dependent on other people’s lives.”
Getting into character became quite a difficult task for DiCaprio, who was often encouraged by costars Jamie Foxx and Samuel F. Jackson “to go all the way with this.”
“You have to play somebody that doesn’t even deem others as human,” he added. “And you’re working with other actors you respect, and you have to go in there and essentially cut them off and treat them as a subspecies to you. It was a very hard switch to make.
Django Unchained served as the actor’s first collaboration with Tarantino, nearly 15 years after DiCaprio rose to superstardom in 1997’s Titanic. His role as Jack Dawson catapulted a pop culture mania that he still can’t comprehend.
“I didn’t even understand what a hit was, you know?” he remarked about the blockbuster classic. “That movie came out and people were like, ‘This movie is doing amazingly well!’ and I’m like, ‘Good, that’s great!'”
But, at the end of the day, the actor remains grateful for all the doors Titanic has opened for him.
Said DiCaprio: “It gave me an opportunity from that point on to choose roles that I wanted to do.”
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