In Steven Spielberg’s underappreciated Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo DiCaprio plays the lead fraudster Frank Abagnale Jr., a smart-talking, quick-thinking con-man able to slip into multiple roles with seamless ease. The role well reflects the acting ability of DiCaprio himself, who is able to effortlessly change into whatever character he is required to perform, no matter the difficulty or stature. His career has seen him work with some of the finest minds in the movie world, from Quentin Tarantino in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, to Christopher Nolan in Inception, though perhaps his most pertinent relationship is his ongoing collaborative partnership with Martin Scorsese.
Appearing in five of Martin Scorsese’s films in total, with a sixth in the form of Killers of the Flower Moon due for release in the near future, Leonardo DiCaprio has demonstrated his versatility time and time again for the director. Discussing his collaboration with the director, DiCaprio states: “I am almost about to turn 40, and I am looking back at some of the stuff I’ve gotten to do, and at the centre of it is this amazing accidental collaboration that I’ve gotten to have with Marty”. The actor even thanked Scorsese in his triumphant Oscar win in 2016, commenting that, “I have to thank everyone from the very onset of my career…to Mr. Jones for casting me in my first film to Mr. Scorsese for teaching me so much about the cinematic art form”.
His Oscar came after years of campaigning for films that perhaps were more deserving of praise, including Scorsese titles like The Departed, and The Wolf of Wall Street where he would depict the real-life philanthropist Jordan Belfort. It was the second time that the actor would take on the role of a real-life icon for the director, with the first performance coming in DiCaprio’s take on the eccentric real-life filmmaker and aviator, Howard Hughes in 2004s The Aviator.
Despite having worked with the director on other more critically acclaimed and commercially successful projects, DiCaprio recalls his time working on The Aviator as his favourite ever film role. Speaking about the role, the actor claims the reason he loved depicting Howard Hugues so much is, “It’s a different set of circumstances when you’re able to say to yourself, ‘you know, someday I’m going to play this character,’ and then you get to develop it. And I got to develop it for over eight years, and then the great Martin Scorsese got to direct me in it. So that’s the one I’m probably most proud of”.
First collaborating with the director in Gangs of New York at the age of 28, DiCaprio stated that “as a young actor standing beside him during the creative process of making a movie, I discovered that just like a painting, a sculpture, music or theatre, film was just as essential, relevant, as a matter of fact, the most integral art form of our time.”
The actor added that he, “felt he could truly own the term artist by working alongside Scorsese”, and it’s apparent that after 19 years of working with the director he can now certainly call himself an artist.