Actor, activist, celebrity, concerned environmentalist and a man willing to brave subzero temperatures and “bear attacks” for his art — Leonardo DiCaprio is all that and more, and Rolling Stone writer Stephen Rodrick spent several days getting to know the movie star for our new cover story (on stands Friday).
Tagging along with the 41-year-old DiCaprio in Miami Beach as he filmed sequences for an upcoming documentary on climate change, Rodrick watched as our next probable Best Actor Oscar-winner went toe-to-toe with politicians and policy wonks about the havoc we’re wreaking on our ecosphere at large. “There’s no way we’re not hypocrites about this, and there isn’t a couple of hours a day that I’m not thinking about it. The big question is, is it all too late?” DiCaprio asks.
His “obsession” with the eroding state of our big blue marble was part of the reason, the star claims, that he wanted to take on the part of a 19th-century trapper who braved the elements in director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant. “We went with the purpose of seeing what nature was saying,” he declares, before adding that the answer he and the filmmaker got back was “this crazy, insane message that stopped production.”
Some of the highlights from this intimate cover story include:
DiCaprio had a Hieronymous Bosch painting hanging above his crib and had his share of fights as a kid.
Asked about his earliest memories, the actor remembers a painting that hung above his crib: Bosch’s infamous “Garden of Earthly Delights,” which depicts Eden being squandered away by man. “You literally see Adam and Eve being given paradise,” DiCaprio says. “Then you see in the middle [of the triptych] this overpopulation and excess … then the last panel is just a burnt-down apocalypse. That was my favorite painting.” (Again, this hung above his crib.)
He also recalls how, while growing up in a sketchy part of East Hollywood with his father, underground artist George DiCaprio, the fact that he was already a young working actor didn’t impress the bullies at his middle school. “I was a bit of a loudmouth,” he admits, “and I was in an environment where the elements aligned to have kids smack the hell outta me once in a while.”
His in-progress documentary about climate change had a colorful working title.
After talking with actor and producer Fisher Stevens about the potential for ecological catastrophe our world faces, the two decided to make a documentary about the various ways our globe is suffering and interview scientists about what we can do to stem the tide. Leo’s idea for a title, however, wasn’t exactly marquee-friendly: He wanted to call it Are We Fucked? “I’m more the light and he’s the dark,” Stevens says. “I’m always saying, ‘Don’t be so fucking pessimistic, man.'”