On Monday, the Hollywood Reporter published a story exploring how Leonardo DiCaprio has managed to become a “Hollywood unicorn”—which is to say, both extremely A-list and extremely reserved. Fittingly enough, DiCaprio declined the Reporter‘s request for interview, though directors Martin Scorsese, Alejandro Iñárritu, and Quentin Tarantino were happy to weigh in in his place.
The latter is, of course, the director of DiCaprio’s latest, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, which marks his return to the screen in four years. To Tarantino, that delay was something of an added bonus: “One of the things I like about Leo is he just doesn’t plug himself into two movies a year,” the director said. “He kind of stands alone today, like Al Pacino or Robert De Niro were in the ’70s, where they weren’t trying to do two movies a year—they could do anything they wanted, and they wanted to do this. So that means this must be pretty good.”
According to the Reporter‘s “sources,” DiCaprio wanted to do “this” enough that he took a pay cut. The 44-year-old actor took home a mere $15 million upfront, rather than his usual $20 million (though he still stands to make around $45 million more once Once Upon a Time hits box offices on July 26). Even so, the film came with a cost: The film’s marathon press tour and endless hype have meant months upon months of increased public scrutiny for DiCaprio, who’s infamously camera-shy. (As well as infamously tight-lipped about his personal life, such as his relationship with 22-year-old Camila Morrone, who was born four years after DiCaprio and Tarantino first met.)
DiCaprio, of course, still went ahead with Once Upon a Time, though apparently not before setting some ground rules. He deigned to attend the film’s red carpet premiere at the Cannes Film Festival—and even made sure that his parents were accommodated—but declined to show face at a single other event on the Croisette. (Though he still had his security do a sweep of a party where he’d apparently been planning to promote his latest environmental documentary.)
Naturally, DiCaprio was a bit more relaxed on the set of Once Upon a Time, where he ran much less of a risk of running into reporters, photographers, and various other prying eyes. And yet, even then, the opportunity to glimpse DiCaprio’s face up-close was a privilege only some were allowed to enjoy. DiCaprio may have graced the cast and crew with his presence, but for some, it came with a caveat. According to an “on-set source,” “some crewmembers on Once Upon a Time were instructed to avoid making eye contact with him,” the Reporter explains.
Extreme as that may be, it isn’t the worst rumor that’s flown around about DiCaprio. (Three years later, we’re still doing our best to forget that one about the noise-canceling headphones.)