Martin Scorsese’s latest film and fourth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio tells the story of two U.S. marshals, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), who are summoned to a remote and barren island off the coast of Massachusetts to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a murderess from the island’s fortress-like hospital for the criminally insane. If you like your films predictable and wrapped up in a little bow Shutter Island is definitely not for you, it’s twisted and creepy. Leonardo DiCaprio recently talked to me about Shutter Island:
You must of put yourself through hell for this role, your character goes through some pretty dark places. What was the interest in doing that?
Leonardo DiCaprio: It was the nature of the material, when I first read the book and the screenplay it was a complex jigsaw puzzle, the line that reality starts and dreams begin for my characters past. His past is blurred but through the course of the movie you learn about different aspects of his mind. He’s learning the truth, it’s a truth about his past, that is a traumatic truth and in order to tell this story of this complicated character study we had to keep pushing these story lines further and further. In order for one set of circumstances to be believable we had to push emotional extremes in another set of circumstances. Me and Martin kept pushing my character to darker and darker places through the course of the film, it was surprising for both of us because reading from a screenplay there’s only so much you can extract. It shocked us the levels we had to put in to this.
It must have been weird finishing up on set then going about your normal life?
Leonardo DiCaprio: I have to admit going home I’d be in a sombre mood from some of the emotional extremes, that’s just the nature of playing a character with extreme emotional trauma. For the most part I do try to isolate myself from people when I’m filming anyway, there were a few weeks towards the end of filming where I had a laps of understanding where I was, because we kept pushing this guy further and further, day after day of rein-acting an event that was either a dream or that was either reality, I remember saying to Marty what am I doing right now, what’s going on, he just said don’t worry do the scene again (laughs) it’s ok keep pushing it. It’s great to have a guy you trust and you see as a mentor in situations like that because you are making yourself vulnerable. Through our relationship and the years with we’ve worked with each other it made it a lot easier.
It must have been demanding physically and mentally?
Leonardo DiCaprio: By shear necessity to survive the film making process I do switch off when I go home. Ultimately I’m challenged by these types of characters, maybe this is the most challenging role for me to date, physically yes but emotionally more so, it does give me great excitement though, this character is difficult to talk about because we want the audience to have that virgin experience, we were also conscious we were making a film that would have a completely different interpretation the second time watching it, that could take on different meanings. There’s a certain level of ambiguity at the ending of the film and in fact through a lot of it that could lend the audience to having a different experience on further viewing, that added even more of a challenge the way I played Teddy, pushing him to different extremes. It was one of the most challenging roles but at the same time I relish those experiences.
We’re used to seeing you play very intense and complex characters are we ever gonna see you in a comedy or a romance?
Leonardo DiCaprio: (Laughs) I don’t know really, I just respond to what I read,what I’ve read and took on has moved me some way and gained my interest, they throw me back to what moved me in cinema at a very early age. These were the type of characters I’ve also felt emotionally connected to and I think you never fully feel satisfied that you’ve found THAT role. I’m driven in my mind to be able to get close to some of the great master works of great performers I’ve seen in cinema since years past, I don’t know if that thirst will ever be quenched. I would love to try other genres but it depends what moves me emotionally.