You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

DiCaprio’s pair raises suspense levels

'Shutter,' 'Inception' among year's top thrillers

Leonardo DiCaprio knows how to screw with people.

After a slow 2009, DiCaprio returned in 2010 for some of his most cognitively complex work to date. He took the lead in two of the year’s biggest films: Martin Scorsese’s thriller “Shutter Island” and Christopher Nolan’s head trip “Inception.” In both cases, the actor created characters rich with idiosyncrasies — as moviegoers blindly trusted them, only to have that trust betrayed at the drop of a hat.

“They were selfish and deceived the audience, caught up in their own psychosis,” he says.

At least “Inception” was more upfront about that trickery. DiCaprio plays Cobb, a specialist who infiltrates people’s dreams and then steals or implants valuable information. The task requires him and his team to escort the subject into many dreams-within-dreams; the deeper they get, the more the mission is jeopardized.

DiCaprio had to keep close tabs on his character, despite there being “times on set — between five levels of the dream state — that my mind got twisted like a Rubik’s Cube,” he says. When he signed on, “The script was very much a work-in-progress” but DiCaprio says he trusted the process because of Nolan’s vision.

Same goes for his work with Scorsese, now a frequent collaborator. The Hitchcockian “Shutter Island” is the story of an emotionally disturbed detective unraveling an unnerving mystery at a mental hospital.

“It was challenging because we essentially did the character in three different levels of intensity,” he says. Much of the perf came together in the editing room — a sign of ultimate faith in a director.

Though both characters share similar qualities, DiCaprio was careful not to mirror his work on one or the other. He has become adept at the infinite shades of insanity, and it’s bringing out some of his best work.

“In both cases you’ve got an unreliable protagonist, which is of fun to play,” he says. “You get a pair of aces.”

More from Eye on the Oscars: The Actor
The buck goes there
LEAD ACTOR
Leonard DiCaprio | Robert Duvall | Jesse Eisenberg | Colin Firth |James Franco | Ryan Gosling
Lead actors in the mix
SUPPORTING ACTOR
Andrew Garfield | Jeremy Renner | Geoffrey Rush | Mark Ruffalo | Christian Bale | Sam Rockwell
Supporting actors in the mix

More Film

  • Michelle Yeoh

    Michelle Yeoh to Be Feted at Macau Festival

    Leonardo DiCaprio knows how to screw with people. After a slow 2009, DiCaprio returned in 2010 for some of his most cognitively complex work to date. He took the lead in two of the year’s biggest films: Martin Scorsese’s thriller “Shutter Island” and Christopher Nolan’s head trip “Inception.” In both cases, the actor created characters […]

  • Alexandra Shipp

    Film News Roundup: Alexandra Shipp in Talks for 'Shaft' Sequel

    Leonardo DiCaprio knows how to screw with people. After a slow 2009, DiCaprio returned in 2010 for some of his most cognitively complex work to date. He took the lead in two of the year’s biggest films: Martin Scorsese’s thriller “Shutter Island” and Christopher Nolan’s head trip “Inception.” In both cases, the actor created characters […]

  • Producers Guild Taps Seven Documentary Nominees

    'Cries From Syria,' 'Jane' Among Producers Guild of America's Feature Documentary Nominees

    Leonardo DiCaprio knows how to screw with people. After a slow 2009, DiCaprio returned in 2010 for some of his most cognitively complex work to date. He took the lead in two of the year’s biggest films: Martin Scorsese’s thriller “Shutter Island” and Christopher Nolan’s head trip “Inception.” In both cases, the actor created characters […]

  • Adam Fields Relativity

    Ex-Relativity Executive Adam Fields Accused of Sexual Harassment

    Leonardo DiCaprio knows how to screw with people. After a slow 2009, DiCaprio returned in 2010 for some of his most cognitively complex work to date. He took the lead in two of the year’s biggest films: Martin Scorsese’s thriller “Shutter Island” and Christopher Nolan’s head trip “Inception.” In both cases, the actor created characters […]

  • Wolf Warriors 2

    China Box Office Passes $7.5 Billion Landmark

    Leonardo DiCaprio knows how to screw with people. After a slow 2009, DiCaprio returned in 2010 for some of his most cognitively complex work to date. He took the lead in two of the year’s biggest films: Martin Scorsese’s thriller “Shutter Island” and Christopher Nolan’s head trip “Inception.” In both cases, the actor created characters […]

  • Laura Dern Emmy Award Win

    New York Women in Film & Television to Honor Laura Dern, Judith Light, Others at Muse Awards

    Leonardo DiCaprio knows how to screw with people. After a slow 2009, DiCaprio returned in 2010 for some of his most cognitively complex work to date. He took the lead in two of the year’s biggest films: Martin Scorsese’s thriller “Shutter Island” and Christopher Nolan’s head trip “Inception.” In both cases, the actor created characters […]

  • Murder on the Orient Express

    Fox Developing 'Murder on the Orient Express' Sequel 'Death on the Nile'

    Leonardo DiCaprio knows how to screw with people. After a slow 2009, DiCaprio returned in 2010 for some of his most cognitively complex work to date. He took the lead in two of the year’s biggest films: Martin Scorsese’s thriller “Shutter Island” and Christopher Nolan’s head trip “Inception.” In both cases, the actor created characters […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content