The Red Bulletin September 2019 (UK)

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Brad Pitt & Leonardo DiCaprio

Last Action

Heroes

In the shark pool known as Hollywood, it’s a case

of swim or get eaten. What does it take to survive?

We asked two guys who know a bit in that regard…

Words RÜDIGER STURM

think, “I have the right material and

a great director,” and sometimes it

still misses, but you keep going.

bp: Acting is like being in the ring:

you’re enjoying the fight, but taking

punches. A film is a big commitment

– it’s one or two years of your life.

In a leading role, the preparation

alone can take six months, and then

you’ve got post-production. It’s got

to mean something to me. I don’t

know how much time I have left,

I just want it to matter.

The most exciting dynamic star duo

since Paul Newman and Robert

Redford” is how director Quentin

Tarantino describes the leads in his

latest movie, Once Upon a Time in

Hollywood. The film is Tarantino’s

confessed love letter to Los Angeles

in 1969 – the year that the Manson

murders shook Hollywood, signalling

the end of the hippy movement;

the Vietnam War was at its zenith;

Nixon entered the White House; and

humans first landed on the Moon.

It’s also the year that Newman

and Redford starred in Butch Cassidy

and the Sundance Kid, a revisionist

Western that – alongside the two other

highest-grossing films of 1969, Easy

Rider and Midnight Cowboy – heralded

a new wave of counterculture cinema.

Enter the protagonists of Once Upon

a Time: an ageing film star and his

stunt double, struggling in the

afterglow of Hollywood’s golden age.

Half a century on, the parallels

are clear. Global unrest and

controversial presidents aside, Pitt,

55, and DiCaprio, 44, could be seen

as anachronisms – the last big-screen

idols in a shifting landscape of

streaming media consumption.

Are they portraying representations

of themselves? What does it take to

stay alive in a carnivorous industry

with younger talent waiting to take

their place? The Red Bulletin asked

the stars for their survival secrets…

“Once you get

in the door, you

have to stand

in the room”

Don’t fear the reaper

brad pitt: There’s a shelf life to

what we do, and we’re aware of that.

It makes us more appreciative of

the time we’ve had. As long as you

find meaning in what you do, it’ll

transition into something else. Look

at the amazing careers of Anthony

Hopkins and Gene Hackman.

leonardo dicaprio: Any career

is a rollercoaster ride; there are ebbs

and flows for better or worse. I look

at this as a long-distance race. Both

of us try to make the best choices

we can, working hard on films that

challenge us and are hopefully

great pieces of art. That’s the best

we can do.

You need to get lucky,

but be ready

ldc: Brad and I talked about this.

You need to be prepared, but also you

need to have that one stroke of luck.

I have actor friends who are still

searching for those opportunities. I

just happened to be in the right place

at the right time when I was younger.

bp: I agree. I feel like we won the

lottery. There are many talented

people out there, but the trick is:

once you get in the door, you have

to stand in the room. We’ve had

opportunities to learn that, find

our way, and make it our own.

Keep your chin up

ldc: I’m ambitious. I grew up in LA

and I don’t come from a well-to-do

background, so I know how hard it

is to get your foot in the door, to be

a working actor. It comes from a need

to satisfy a hunger – not for wealth

or celebrity, but to do great work

that moves me. That’s not easy. You

Be prepared to take risks

bp: I don’t ever like to repeat myself.

For better or worse, I want to keep

moving on. It’s like I’m on a road trip

and I forget something – I can’t go

back, I’ve just got to do without my

glasses or my licence and risk getting

a ticket. I choose projects by the

inexplicable feeling that this next

one is something new and different.

ldc: Martin Scorsese once said to

me, “It’s important to do films about

the darker side of human nature.

Don’t sugarcoat it. If you’re authentic

about the way you portray someone,

the audience will go on that journey

with you, no matter what.”

Always bring your A-game

ldc: Research is the most

underrated part of filmmaking. If

you don’t show up with a wealth of

knowledge about a person and the

way they would act – if you’re not

comfortable in their shoes – it won’t

result in an authentic character.

On the day, the director may change

his mind, or you might. If you don’t

have real intent going in, it won’t

be as good.

Become a strong negotiator

ldc: A lot of making movies is

agreeing on what you don’t want

to do. You have to be blunt from

the very beginning and tell the

writers and directors what you’re

comfortable with and in what

direction you feel the movie should

go. My blunt German honesty [his

mother is German] comes out when

it’s something I really care about.

I hope that elevates it sometimes.

Directors don’t always agree with

me, but not one of them would say

that I ever pull my punches. The

unknown is what you do want to

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24 THE RED BULLETIN

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