BY DONNA FREYDKIN
Before we talk Oscars, or how this is set to be the year Leonardo DiCaprio finally takes home the Big One, or how he won a Golden Globe last night for playing legendary explorer Hugh Glass in "The Revenant" -- before we tackle all that, let's discuss that fearsome facial hair he sported in the film.
"The first thing I did when I completely wrapped was get rid of my beard. I could not wait to do that. I look around and see beards now and I don't want to go back there," says DiCaprio.
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We feel your hirsute pain. But the beard was integral to the performance, as was director Alejandro González Iñárritu's decision only to shoot in natural light -- something that led to the film's set of massive, weather-related problems. But it's what also made the film the kind of immersive, emotionally searing experience one rarely has in green-screen loving Hollywood.
"What surprised me the most about the film-making process? Alejandro set out to make anything in new realism and he strove for that authenticity. You set the bar so high from the outset. We rehearsed three weeks for the opening sequence," says DiCaprio. "We knew it would be a difficult shoot but we could not imagine how many complications the weather would cause in the making of the movie. It would cause us to have to adapt."
Just like Glass had to live by the elements when, after left for dead in the wake of a bear attack, he stalks the man (Tom Hardy) who murdered his son. DiCaprio is the last one to moan about the hardships he faced on the film's multitude of natural movie sets.
"Look, you know, I think this is our job. We were there to make a movie that was different and exciting. What changed me was the fact that more than ever, it makes you realize the process of making movies is trusting in the people you work with. You realize you have to go forward fully," says DiCaprio.
He prepped, he says, "by working out with the trainer for a while. We had all these different experts that were very much nostalgic mountain men revivalists. We had people to help us load a gun and throw an axe."
Would he ever make a film this grueling again? DiCaprio pauses before answering.
"You never know, but we knew we signed on for something like a voyage into the wilderness. Had we known the difficulties we would endure with the weather, I don't know if we'd sign on again. It was a chapter of my life I'll always cherish and never forget," he says. "Hugh Glass is a highly-skilled survivalist but at the same time he's a human being that was pushed to incredible hardcore circumstances. He found an ability to adapt. I saw his humanity."
We spoke to DiCaprio the day before he won his Golden Globe. But we did ask whether he paid attention to that incessant awards chatter.
"Pay attention to it? The truth is, like anyone, we all already did the work and there's not much else you can do but promote the film. If people want to give it awards it's beyond my control," he says.
We hope he's getting his acceptance speeches ready.
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