A year ago...
Big Hit Feb 99, George Hadley Garcia
Question: How has the success of 'Titanic' changed you?
Leonardo: It's not so much that it's changed me but it has affected me. It's changed my life. The one real hit I had before that was 'Romeo + Juliet'. I'd had critical successes but this shows how much a financial success can change your life. It boils down to people think you can make money for them, so they want you. You become the flavour of the moment, and you don't know how long that will last.
Q: How does it affect your daily life?
L: I used to be able to meet people or even just go out to lunch, without it getting reported in the news or magazines. Everyone now wants to know what I'm doing, who I'm with and where I'm going. You become so self-conscious...you even have to be careful how you chew food in public!
Q: Will you be glad when this level of attention is over?
L: I think so! But on the other hand, I may miss some of it. It means that people are interested, which is flattering to my ego, and it means I can get a tremendous salary and who's going to turn THAT down? It makes sense that you go through some discomfort for this sort of success, but as an actor it's supposed to be about the work.
Q: You have fans all over the world. How are they different?
L: Well, one way is how direct they are. It really depends on the person and sometimes their age. If they're shy or real young, or maybe if they're from Japan, then they say all these nice compliments to me and say I'm doing a good job and they'll be sure and say they'll see my next movie. There's also fans who make personal comments - and I won't say what - or they'll try and flirt with you in a letter. Some from the USA or France might tell you that you're sexy or ask if you're doing another nude scene. It can be embarrassing. There just isn't time to read all the mail.
Q: What was it like playing an out-of-control movie-star in Woody Allen's 'Celebrity'?
L: It was great. It was about being a celebrity, and I could relate to it. I want to play all kinds of characters, like do a whole gallery of characters. It's really cool.
Q: How did you get the part and what was Woody like?
L: Well, he contacts you, and that means you're lucky, because EVERYONE wants to work with Woody...and he's not tough to work with. He IS in charge, but he can be open to your suggestions. Only he writes all his movies and he knows what he wants to say, so there isn't that much need for suggestions. It's just fun. Even when his movies don't do so great, they're around for years and people come to appreciate them more. He chose me for it, and I wanted to work with him. Even Madonna's worked with him, only that movie, (Shadows and Fog) didn't do so great.
Q: What do you do in your time off?
L: Well, hanging around with friends...and my family too. I like to travel and I've got relatives and friends in Europe so it's kind of fascinating to see how the whole 'Titanic' phenomenon is really so, um, worldwide.
Q: Do you go out a lot?
L: Not a lot. But you go out, with friends or whatever, and you visit certain 'in' places or interesting places.
Q: Why do you date so many models?
L: I see who I want to see.
Q: There's been so much written about your alleged romances, but you seem to focus more on work.
L: Well, the work is for the public. My private life is just that: private.
Q: Which of your own films do you recommend?
L: Well, in Hollywood they always tell you to plug your latest one...but I don't think there's hardly anyone left who hasn't seen 'Titanic'! I'd recommend 'Romeo + Juliet', partly because it's a whole new, more modern version, with some interesting changes, and 'Gilbert Grape' and ...my next one!
Q: Who are your rivals?
L: Other actors who would be offered the same roles. Guys in my own age range. And also younger than me, because I sometimes look younger than my age. Right now, I'm getting first choice on the scripts, so that's real cool.
Q: Who do you admire?
L: I kind of envy Stephen Dorff. He's made some interesting choices and pulled it off. He played a transvestite in that movie about Andy Warhol and now he's in 'Blade', a real hip vampire action movie that nobody expected to do so hot. So it's always great when you can do something that stretches you as an actor but that the public also supports.
Q: You've filmed in countries like Mexico and France - you must have some great stories.
L: I don't like to give long interviews. I don't want to bore anyone. But someday I may do a book and there will be stories and things in there. But not any time soon.