Leonardo DiCaprio is Oscar hunting with his new film The Revenant.
As more and more interviews emerge, it becomes clear that DiCaprio is fighting hard with award season right around the corner. The only person fighting harder than DiCaprio is his character, Hugh Glass!
Director Alejandro Iñárritu has spared no vision in getting this film exactly right and the cast and crew have gone along for the crazy ride.
The film is set in 1823 and Hugh Glass is attacked by men who leave him for dead. The film follows his hard core journey to finding some justice/revenge. Glass gets attacked by a grizzly bear and then travels 200 miles with a broken leg and wounds that become gangrenous. He uses maggots to help the cuts, eats whatever he can get a hold of and survives in freezing cold temperatures.
Leonardo’s experience may not have been quite that extreme, but he certainly did have some difficult challenges in playing this role.
Iñárritu decided that there would be no green screens or sound stages. Every shot they wanted needed to be on location. In order to get the look he wanted, everyone travelled to Alberta Canada. The hotel they stayed at was two hours away from the shooting location and that drive was on all unpaved roads.
Not rough enough for you? What if we said that Emmanuel Lubezki, the cinematographer for the project, only wanted to use natural light. So if a scene didn’t get finished on time, the day was wasted and they’d have to wait 24 hours to start again. Some days, in order to get the light desired, DiCaprio would have to be up at 3am. Domhnall Gleeson, another star in the film, said:
“The sun hits only where you need it to be for about 20 minutes a day. If you don’t get the shot during that 20 minutes, then you’re back the next day. We had one absolutely nutty scene that involved running in and out of water and getting onto a boat, and a lot of guys on horses coming toward us, and arrows and guns going off. That was all in one shot. Your nerves are absolutely shredded.”
Not only was the travel time consuming, but the makeup was as well. Throughout the shooting, DiCaprio wore over 47 different prosthetics and would have to be sitting in the makeup chair for up to 5 hours a day! It takes time to look that rough…it certainly does.
Then there was the creepy crawly challenges. Iñárritu wanted there to be ants and bugs all over DiCaprio, but there wasn’t a surplus of bugs where they were filming. So Iñárritu imported ants from British Columbia, which were brought over on two planes just to hang out on DiCaprio.
He also munched on a raw bison liver. That’s disgusting enough for most people, but even worse for a vegetarian. They first attempted the shot with a replica of the organ but decided it wasn’t fooling anybody so DiCaprio agreed to try the real thing. He said:
“The bad part is the membrane around it. It’s like a balloon. When you bite into it, it bursts in your mouth.”
All of that aside, it was freezing out! Some days temperatures were 40 below. DiCaprio did get the flu a few times while shooting but pushed through it. He said:
“I had elk skin on and a bear fur that weighed about 100 pounds when it got wet. And every day it was a challenge not to get hypothermia.”
When days were coldest, everybody had trouble functioning. There were EMTs around the set, and they had a huge dryer/heater in case of emergencies. Leonardo said:
“We couldn’t really open our eyes. And our fingers locked together and the camera gear locked together, and I just looked at Alejandro and said, ‘I’m all for enduring realism, but there comes a point when nothing is operable.'”
The Revenant is out in theatres Friday, and while it’s not likely that you’ll go to the movies on Christmas day…it might be worth it to head there on Boxing Day. It looks like it’s going to be a good one!
Good luck getting that Oscar buddy…sounds like you’ve really earned it with this one!
***The information provided has come from interviews with the cast and crew of The Revenant with Variety Magazine, Mens Journal and Wired Magazine.