Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Alamy)


When Leonardo DiCaprio turned down the opportunity to work with Paul Thomas Anderson

Leonardo DiCaprio and Paul Thomas Anderson are two of the biggest names in Hollywood. Both of them had a considerable impact on the current landscape of contemporary cinema in 2021 with two major projects that came out last year. DiCaprio’s immensely popular Netflix disaster comedy Don’t Look Up ended up nabbing a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars which generated a lot of controversy.

Many audience members weren’t convinced that Adam McKay’s film actually deserved the nomination but there were fewer critics when it came to the subject of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Oscar bids. Anderson’s latest project Licorice Pizza has garnered a lot of critical acclaim, managing to score nominations for Best Picture, Best Director as well as a bid for the Best Original Screenplay.

Licorice Pizza saw Anderson returning to California’s San Fernando Valley, featuring a revelatory cast which included the likes of Alana Haim as well as the son of Philip Seymour Hoffman – Cooper Hoffman – in their fantastic debuts. The film is a classic Paul Thomas Anderson experience, exploring the nostalgia of the ’70s and adolescent love.

Over the course of his career, Anderson has collaborated with a lot of interesting actors. Of course, his most famous collaborator has been the inimitable Daniel Day-Lewis who delivered some of the greatest performances of his career while working with Anderson on modern gems such as There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread.

Anderson has also transformed the careers of stars and given them a new direction, especially Adam Sandler whose dramatic potential was revealed when his superb acting work in Punch-Drunk Love blew the minds of audience members who were only familiar with Sandler’s commercial comedies. Since then, Sandler has actively sought out challenging projects including the recent masterpiece Uncut Gems.

One film star who also had the opportunity to work with Paul Thomas Anderson was none other than Leonardo DiCaprio. According to Anderson, DiCaprio was offered the role of Dirk Diggler in his 1997 comedy-drama Boogie Nights which became the film that reinforced Anderson’s status as one of the most promising directorial voices out there.

The role eventually went to Mark Wahlberg who was brilliant as Diggler, a young boy who lashes out at his family and decides to become a professional adult movie star who gains a reputation in the industry for having an enormous appendage. However, he becomes the architect of his own downfall as he struggles with substance abuse issues and an even bigger ego.

“I love Leo and loved him then because I was obsessed with Gilbert Grape,” Anderson explained while talking about how DiCaprio passed on the chance. “But backing up before that, This Boys Life was a fucking amazing film. The director can’t see anyone other than Wahlberg in the role now but he added: “Leo and I will work together one day and it will be the right thing, but it will happen.”