Actor-Director Partnerships: Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese
When arguably the greatest living film director and one of the world’s strongest actors work together on a project, filmgoers know they are in for a treat. And when these individuals decide to make a habit of collaboration, an iconic partnership is born. Legendary film director Martin Scorsese almost guarantees a hit with every piece he creates, as does actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who selects his films with great care and rarely appears in a bad movie. These two greats have worked together on five critically acclaimed films to date, and after watching the partnership develop, there can be no doubt as to why the two choose to work together time and time again: they simply click, producing fascinating film on every occasion.
Martin Scorsese began his illustrious feature-film directing career in 1967 with the drama Who’s That Knocking at my Door, starring not DiCaprio but Harvey Keitel, another soon to be favourite, instead. The film met with mixed reviews, but quickly set the Scorsese standard of addressing tricky topics head on in a hard-hitting manner. Scorsese continued making lesser-known works until 1976, when he exploded onto the screen with the landmark Mean Streets (1973), which he quickly followed with the masterpiece Taxi Driver (1976) and the equally legendary Raging Bull (1980). Scorsese has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director eight times, winning once for The Departed (2006). The director may be known for the liberal amounts of violence and profanity in his films, yet unlike in the works of others, these aspects are never gratuitous or pointless. Rather, Scorsese addresses brutal topics, such as gang conflict, boxing tournaments, or teenage prostitution, in a realistic and honest manner. Scorsese also uses techniques such as slow motion filming and freeze frames, strategies from which other modern directors often shy away, with fearless confidence in his own ability. In addition to DiCaprio, other favourite actors with whom he works frequently include Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Joe Pesci.
It is entirely possible that Leonardo DiCaprio is currently the greatest actor in Hollywood without a coveted Best Actor Oscar. Although he has been nominated an impressive four times, DiCaprio appears unable to secure a win, much to the chagrin of fans who believe an award to be well deserved. DiCaprio’s breakout performance was undoubtedly in the role of Arnie Grape in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), where he proved his talent by portraying a developmentally challenged young boy with the confidence and sensitivity of one far beyond his scant thirteen years of age. DiCaprio received his first Oscar nomination for this film, which has been followed by recognition for his performances in The Aviator (2004), Blood Diamond (2006), and, only this year, The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). It is often difficult to tear one’s eyes away from this individual when he appears on the big screen, and this fact is due only in part to his dashing good looks. DiCaprio’s performances are always full of nuance and intensity, and his characters are carefully layered and thoroughly crafted. As aforementioned, DiCaprio is one of those actors who simply does not appear in bad movies, and his presence almost guarantees a film that will be successful both in the critics’ circles and in the box offices.
It was not until 2002 that Scorsese discovered DiCaprio, but since then their partnerships have been frequent and well received. The pair began working together in 2002 when DiCaprio allegedly approached Scorsese with interest in his period crime drama Gangs of New York. After discovering the actor, Scorsese went on to cast him in every film he has directed since, with the exception of his animated children’s movie Hugo (2011). Their collaborations to date are The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006), Shutter Island (2010), and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). Both of these individuals value realism in their work, striving to produce accurate and honest portrayals of subject matter and characters. While Scorsese addresses heavy topics, DiCaprio takes on complicated characters, and the work they produce together never fails to be highly arresting as well as entertaining.
DiCaprio cites Scorsese as a major guiding influence on his acting career. He also speaks of the trust the two have in each other, which has culminated in the grand and highly controversial Wolf of Wall Street, and the overarching visions that he respects in the director’s work. It is rumoured that DiCaprio may have approached Scorsese to initiate the partnership in 2002, but there can be no doubt that the director is aware that he has discovered a gem, as he selects DiCaprio as his star time and time again. Not only have these two individuals benefited from the collaboration, but film audiences have reaped the rewards as well. Although they do not have any upcoming films scheduled, be sure to keep your eyes open for their next offering, which is sure to appear not quickly enough.