Leonardo DiCaprio plays the role of Danny Archer.
Leonardo, what was the motivation for you to do this movie? Was it the social message?
LEONARDO DICAPRIO: Oh, first off, the script – I mean, it was such a powerful character. It was such a powerful storyline. And that’s what you look for first. I wasn’t personally going out, seeking films with a social or political message to it, just to do it for the sake of doing it. It has to be a good movie and it has to convey a message without the audience really feeling like they’re being preached to. And I really felt strongly that this script accomplished that. To me it was very representative of a huge issue in the world today, of corporate responsibility. Certainly Africa’s been a prime target for it – all the way to gold and rubber and all kinds of other natural resources. And here was this character that really represented somebody that was exploiting people less fortunate than him, dealing in the black market, and not really being conscious of the world he lived in. I just felt it was a really powerful character. I felt the dynamic between Djimon Hounsou’s character and my character, based on an earlier script, but it was really Ed Zwick and Marshal who learned about the diamond trade specifically, and brought these political aspects into the story in a way that I felt was really authentic. So, of course it’s always great to do a movie that you find that is entertaining, but also can give some sort of political or social message. I felt this movie did that.
Did you feel that you have now made the transition into more adult roles?
LEONARDO DICAPRIO: As far as growing up, what can I say? I have to be honest. I have never thought about choosing a specific role because it would make me seem more manlike. Even with roles like CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, I was 8 or 10 years older than the character I portrayed. It was an interesting character. And I knew that it was maybe one of the last times I could play a character like that. I think these things are really something that are intangible that you can never really control. I keep saying this, but it’s the truth. You do these movies, and you give it out to the world, and you really have no idea how people are going to react to you, the subject matter. I’ve been in plenty of situations where I thought a film would turn out one way, where my performance would be looked at one way and it was an entirely different situation. Once you make these movies, you give it out to the world, and then you guys get to pick it apart.
How did you go about getting your South African accent down?
LEONARDO DICAPRIO: Spending a lot of time with the locals drinking beers with them; hearing their stories; hearing a lot of guys from South African military. I got to hang out with a guy named Tom Duff who was a military expert and just listening to them talk. And, of course, I have an accent coach, and he was there, guiding me through it.
Leo, when was the last time that you bought a real diamond? And has this movie affected your attitude towards them?
LEONARDO DICAPRIO: Hmm. Well, I don’t remember the last time I have. My mom was the only person I would really buy something like that for. And for a while now she hasn’t wanted one. But that isn’t to say that people shouldn’t, and look, these come from my conversations with Global Witness or Amnesty International. You have to go into the stores that you go and buy these diamonds at. Ask for a certificate, ask for some sort of authentication that this isn’t a conflict diamond. And you have to, as a consumer, use your best judgment to say, “You know what?” I believe that you are truthful in what you’re saying, and I see the documents. You’ve proved to me that this isn’t a conflict diamond. That’s one of the biggest ways this whole process can be put to a stop.
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