The Revenant looks like the kind of film that has some epic behind the scenes stories attached to it. Leonardo DiCaprio, trudging it up against the American frontier, freakin’ bears and some really pissed off natives sounds like the kind of location shoot of legend. But it wasn’t a wordy movie to film.
Speaking to Grantland, DiCaprio revealed that The Revenant wasn’t exactly a dialogue-heavy movie:
“It was a different type of challenge for me,” DiCaprio says, “because I’ve played a lot of very vocal characters. It’s something that I really wanted to investigate — playing a character that says almost nothing. How do you relay an emotional journey and get in tune with this man’s angst … without words?”
Director Alejandro Iñárritu confirmed this sentiment, revealing that DiCaprio’s character is largely wordless:
“Honestly, Leo, he’s attacked by a bear, and after that, he becomes almost like a silent character: a lot of things going on, but no words,” Iñárritu notes. “That’s for me the essence of cinema: not to rely on the words, but images and emotions.”
“Revenge is a feeling [that] when you commit it, it leaves you empty. It’s not a wholesome emotion, and it’s not satisfying.” His stakes-raising solution was to create a son for Glass, named Hawk, by a relationship with a Pawnee woman: “I thought that a father-son relation, a filial relation, is much more complex and fulfilling — more empathy.”
For DiCaprio, the challenge of not only acting with more physicality than usual in a dialogue-lite film, was a real game-changer:
“I tried to capture — or emulate on film — a different type of American that I haven’t seen on film very often,” DiCaprio says. “This [was] an unregulated, sort of lawless territory. It hadn’t been forged into the America that we know yet. It was still sort of up for grabs.”
“The snow melted down, literally, in front of our eyes,” Iñárritu said of the production, which was beset by some technical hurdles.
“We experienced global warming; we were planning to shoot the ending scene in a location that supposedly will have snow …” he laughs. “[But there were] bees. So we had to shut down.”
“To pull off these complicated sequences, like a ballet, movement needed to be precise,” DiCaprio says. “When it came down to that nail-biting moment to capture that magic light, every day was like putting on a mini-piece of theater. If we lost that one hour, if we didn’t accomplish what we had to accomplish, we were there the next day. And oftentimes many of these locations were very remote. So it was a very intense set, because we knew we only had one shot every single day. Otherwise … we would be back there again.”
The final scene for The Revenant hasn’t even been shot yet, but Iñárritu and DiCaprio will reunite for a seven-day shoot to wrap the film up in the Tierra del Fuego region of Argentina near the South Pole.
Last Updated: July 23, 2015