Leonardo DiCaprio On His Hollywood Heroes & Five Favorite Movies

Leonardo DiCaprio may be one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, but the “Shutter Island” star took his Esquire cover story in the March 2010 issue as a chance to talk about his Hollywood heroes.

“Out of any actor, I can’t think of anyone who’s got more memorable moments in cinema than Jack Nicholson,” he told the mag. “Jack never takes a single line straight on. Never takes an emotion written in the script at face value. He brings terror into what you thought was supposed to be a light moment and makes a light moment out of a cutthroat vicious line. He flips everything on its side.”

Leo remembered filming one scene in “The Departed” with Jack where the veteran actor wanted to take a few extra steps to make sure Leo seemed “sincerely threatened.”

“I come on the set the next day and hear we’re doing the scene over for lighting reasons. But then a prop guy comes over to me and says, ‘Just to let you know, there were some props Jack asked for. I had to get him a fire extinguisher, a bottle of whiskey, a lighter, and a gun,’” Leo said.

As for actresses, he said it doesn’t get much better than Meryl Streep, who starred with him in “Marvin’s Room.”

“I was 18 when I got to work with Meryl,” he said. “I remember going over my lines with her off camera, looking at her and thinking to myself, ‘What is going on here? How is this going to look good?’ Then when I sat in the theater, it was, ‘Oh, my God, she’s the only person who looks completely natural.’ Meryl may be the greatest actor in the world.”

And while Leo has teamed with director Martin Scorsese on a number of films, including the new “Shutter Island,” he holds another helmer in high esteem.

“The only other person who knows as much about film as Martin Scorsese is Steven Spielberg,” he explained. “I went from working with Marty on ‘Gangs of New York’ to working with Steven on ‘Catch Me If You Can.’ I had to publicize both movies at the same time, and people would always ask me, What are the differences between Spielberg and Scorsese? All I could find myself talking about was the similarities.”

Leo also listed his top five movies —

1. “The Bicycle Thief”
2. “Taxi Driver”
3. “8 ½”
4. “2001: A Space Odyssey”
5. “East of Eden”

“I remember seeing the hunger in [James] Dean’s eyes,” he said of the final film on his list. “I watched it five times in a row.”

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