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Undeterred, Di Caprio continues to choose his projects slowly and carefully, always seeking to expand his range and present himself with new challenges."Working with people like Martin Scorsese and watching classic old films that are really pieces of art, I want to make sure that if I'm going to invest my time and energy into something and give myself wholeheartedly to it, I want it to be something that lasts," he says thoughtfully. For me, the three elements that have to be there are: it has to be a great script, with a great director and great people to work with."For now he is happy to accumulate the millions of dollars that flood his way, living, if not frugally, at least not in the accustomed style of Hollywood stars.
"He was never able to stay with one woman because he looked on them like aeroplanes: he literally wanted to get the faster, sleeker aeroplane with the bigger turbines."Di Caprio's disorder is more likely to take the form of making him reluctant to step on cracks in the pavement or something similar, although he has little difficulty overcoming his urges.Mann brought scriptwriter John Logan to the project and after much discussion they decided to concentrate on Hughes's life between 19, when he was a pioneering filmmaker and aviator.Warren Beatty and others have toyed for years with the idea of a film about Hughes, but none came off the drawing board.Rejected by a casting agent when he was 11, he tried again at 14 and landed an agent, who got him a toy commercial.Supporting roles in television series followed, but his first film role in Critters 3 gave little hint of his potential.For Di Caprio, a thoughtful, introspective man, being the focus of attention whenever he ventures out is particularly irksome, although he accepts that there is little he can do about it."The paparazzi are horrible people for most of us and I wish they wouldn't follow me around and make my life miserable, but when I start talking about how we should fight them and how they are destroying everything, I feel such a shallow jerk because there are so many more important things in the world that people should be focusing on, not whether some rich celebrity is being photographed by paparazzi," he says.
The attention and fan fever are likely to heighten with the release of The Aviator, Martin Scorsese's epic film about Howard Hughes.
We're going to need 10 minutes to get him to the set today because he has to walk back and step on that thing and touch the door in a certain way and then walk in and walk out again.'"I let myself do it because I wanted that to come out. It became real bothersome, even after the filming."Di Caprio, smartly dressed in a dark suit and blue opennecked shirt with a wispy goatee, talks with humour and knowledge about film and his career and becomes passionate when the topic turns to the environment and the damage being done by the current US administration.
Di Caprio was born and grew up in Hollywood, although his parents, to whom he is still very close, separated when he was one year old.
"Despite his ambition, he had a strong need for solitude and I can definitely empathise with that."It is apparent to everyone but Di Caprio that there are other common denominators linking him and Hughes, apart from their love of privacy.
Both had a taste for beautiful women – Hughes had affairs with Jean Peters, Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner and countless starlets while Di Caprio has romanced a slew of supermodels such as Kate Moss, Helena Christensen, Eva Herzigova and Amber Valetta, and he is currently involved with Gisele Bundchen. Another trait Di Caprio shares with Hughes is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Because Scorsese has never liked flying, Di Caprio ripped off the title page before presenting him with the script.