Clint Eastwood

“Leo was insistent”: Leonardo DiCaprio Was Strictly Against Using Visual Effects in Clint Eastwood’s Movie, Went Through Hours of Tortuous Make Up Process Instead

The biographical film J. Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, delves into the life of the iconic and contentious J. Edgar Hoover, the inaugural director of the FBI. It faced considerable hurdles in getting off the ground. Despite boasting a screenplay by Academy Award-winning writer Dustin Lance Black and the support of producer Brian Grazer, the project initially couldn’t secure the green light from Universal when Grazer presented it there.

Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio in J. Edgar

It was only when Grazer enlisted the assistance of Clint Eastwood, known for his knack for delivering Oscar-worthy films within budget constraints, that the project essentially received the green light from Warner Bros.

Leonardo DiCaprio Sat For Hours For The Makeup Process

Clint Eastwood mentioned that the individual in question had the opportunity to pursue highly profitable projects focused on spectacle and heavy CGI. However, Leonardo DiCaprio’s desire was to diversify his career, akin to Eastwood’s own approach to directing, which has always emphasized variety.

Producer Robert Lorenz mentioned that there was a conversation about potentially using visual effects to simplify things for the actors. However, Leonardo DiCaprio was adamant; he wanted to ensure that the final look met his standards.

Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio sat through extensive hours of makeup to transform into J. Edgar Hoover

Robert Lorenz told THR:

“We discussed the idea of relying on visual effects to make it easier for the actors. But Leo was insistent; he wanted to be sure it was going to look right.”

Both Sian Grigg, the makeup artist, and Hammer were impressed by DiCaprio’s rigorous preparation routine. He dedicated hours each day to practicing while wearing prosthetic teeth, a nose extender, aging makeup, and a skull cap.

Leonardo DiCaprio Made a Low Salary For The Film

When J. Edgar was presented to Clint Eastwood with a tight budget constraint of $35 million, it posed a significant challenge, given the scale of the project. However, the shared aspiration to portray one of the most influential figures of the 20th century in American history compelled both Eastwood and DiCaprio to embrace the challenge. In a conversation with Hollywood Reporter, the Oscar-winning director commended DiCaprio’s willingness to take on the role, despite being offered a substantially lower salary.

Leonardo DiCaprio with director Clint Eastwood on the sets of J. Edgar (2011)
Leonardo DiCaprio with director Clint Eastwood on the sets of J. Edgar (2011)

DiCaprio, who typically commands a $20 million fee, earned a mere $2 million for this project, a departure from his usual pay scale. He’s no stranger to period pieces and biographical films, having starred in productions like The Aviator, Revolutionary Road, and Catch Me If You Can.

However, despite his familiarity with the genre’s aesthetics, he and Eastwood didn’t always see eye to eye on various aspects of the film. This discord eventually led DiCaprio to declare that he wouldn’t collaborate with the director/actor in the future. The breaking point came when Eastwood disregarded DiCaprio’s request for an additional take and instead wrapped up filming for the day.

J. Edgar is available for streaming on HBO Max.

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