The Aviator tells the story of Howard Hughes, a complex man, a daredevil pilot and flight pioneer who struggles to keep a grip on his million-dollar empire and his sanity. Leo had dreamed of playing Howard Hughes for nearly a decade. He says he immersed himself so much in the role that sometimes he wondered if he was losing himself a little too much—in particular, trying to adapt Howard's obsessive compulsive disorder.
"When you commit yourself to a character at that level, you take on certain attributes, and Howard Hughes was a germaphobe, and he had OCD to a huge degree that drove him nuts. … Unfortunately, during Howard Hughes's life, he couldn't be diagnosed with it because they didn't know what it was."