Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio plays the legendary, eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes in The Aviator, a role he's dreamed about for years. Having recently turned 30 years old, Leo says that the role was one of his greatest gifts to date.

"A lot of people asked if I grew up mentally," Leo says. "I don't feel like I necessarily have. But, certainly, having this movie come out and look at all the work that I put into it is literally the best birthday gift I could ever have."
Leonardo DiCaprio on Howard Hughes

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."
Leonardo DiCaprio talks about fame

Leo says that rocketing to stardom was quite surprising, in particular after his starring role in the 1997 phenomenon Titanic. But how does he deal with the fame?

"I think it's important, as an actor, to retain a sense of normalcy, because I've seen so many times people who have gotten a big head from a certain amount of success," Leo says. "I've seen it, I'm sure as you have, affect careers in a dramatic way. … At a young age, if you start to hear enough great things about yourself, you truly get a false sense of your own importance. And you start to feel like you're actually changing the course of history when, meanwhile, we're just entertainers for hire. We're making movies or doing songs or whatever. But not only that, I just don't want to be that type of person for my friends and family to be around. It would just be obnoxious."
Martin Scorsese talks about Leonardo DiCaprio

Acclaimed director Martin Scorsese spent two years, frame by frame, crafting The Aviator and says he considers it an honor to direct a film about so legendary a life. The Aviator is Martin's second film with Leo, having previously worked with him on Gangs of New York.

"We worked closely together on Gangs of New York and got to know each other that way and also got to know each other as people," Martin says. "Even though we're different generations, I'm 30 years older, we found that we seem to be drawn to the similar themes, characters and history. Not only that, music and all sorts of things we found we had in common. I think for me, though, the ability with Leo was the sense of how he was able to tackle any character with tragic flaws, even like Howard Hughes, and make you care about him."
Martin Scorsese talks about Oscar®

Martin has the resume of a master—Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, The Grifters, Goodfellas, Casino…the list goes on. A visionary, Scorsese has been nominated seven times for an Oscar®, but has not won yet. He says he's been disappointed, but regardless, he feels overwhelmingly blessed.

"I learned right away [in the mid '70s], myself and Paul Schrader, the writer of Taxi Driver, were not nominated as director, not even nominated as writer," Martin says. "So that film was directed and the actors were nominated, and I thought maybe I'm on a different course. I said to myself, 'At least the film is up there, and it's got some recognition.' I mean, the best thing in life is you get to make the movies you want to make. Thank God I've been able to do that."
Kate Beckinsale on playing Ava Gardner

The beautiful actress Kate Beckinsale also stars in The Aviator as legendary screen siren Ava Gardner. She only had one night to prepare for her audition with Martin and read with Leo.

Kate: I locked myself in a room with [Ava's] movies and scared my husband with the rocking back and forth, watching her and trying to kind of capture her voice and everything. Then [Martin] asked me to come not looking too contemporary.

Leo: She was Ava when she walked in. Absolutely.