Monday 19 March 2018

10 things the cast of The Revenant had to endure on set

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant

Alice Vincent

One of the more intriguing facts to emerge from The Revenant’s promotional circuit – leaving the fictional bear rape aside – is vegan actor Leonardo DiCaprio eating a raw bison’s liver for his Oscar.

In a revealing interview with Variety, it appears that it wasn’t just DiCaprio’s principles at stake, but also his career. The piece explains how DiCaprio’s lawyer and agents were called regarding the offal, and both parties had to give their clearance before producers served up the organ, which could have been riddled with disease.

Director Alejandro G. Inarritu told Variety that he was concerned about his leading man getting ill from eating the liver, but was pleased DiCaprio did it, as “without it, he may not have gotten to the truth.”

As for DiCaprio, the actor complained that “the bad part is the membrane around it. It’s like a balloon. When you bite into it, it bursts in your mouth.”

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant

While the raw liver may have been a spectacular low, the making of The Revenant - which tells the true story of fur trapper Hugh Glass - is grim enough to secure it a place in Hollywood’s history books. Here are some of the other things the cast and crew had to endure:

Messages had to be delivered via snowmobiles, because there was no mobile signal in the frozen forests of Calgary, Canada, where the film was being shot.

Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezk, whose insistence on shooting only in natural light put further challenges on the crew, wore six layers of thermal clothing to keep warm.

Producers had to fly in ants from British Columbia so they could crawl over DiCaprio because there weren’t any in Calgary. Worse: they had to do it twice, “because some of them died in the first flight,” said Inarritu, “they were panicked by the altitude. They fly first-class!” Bad for Leo, bad for ants, bad for the producers. Good for the airline company.

Despite Inarritu claiming the bear who attacks DiCaprio was a “very well-trained animal”, it was actually constructed by CGI on top of stunt men who tackled DiCaprio. In order to make it accurate, Inarritu studied bear attacks on YouTube.

Among the large crew was “The Wax Lady”, a costume assistant who was responsible for rubbing balls of wax on to the character’s costumes to make them look more worn out.

Special moccasins had to be constructed to make sure actors didn’t lose their toes from frostbite. They had protection, warmth and grip, DiCaprio said, to stop him and pals looking “like a bunch of happy gnomes, sliding all over the ice.”

DiCaprio wasn’t allowed to shave his beard. He had it for 18 months – long enough for the tabloid press to start a rumour that it was flea-infested.

DiCaprio sat through between four and five hours of make-up each day to have the 47 different prosthetics applied to his face, some of which were requested to be more grotesque by Inarritu. He and the makeup team would begin at 3am, dressed for the temperatures so low that the makeup bag froze to the floor of the trailer.

The Revenant, which is inspired by the true story of fur trapper Hugh Glass, was described as "a masterpiece" by Sean Penn and is released on January 15.

Read more: The Revenant 5* review: 'a mad, visionary and quite often preposterous survival tale, very bloody, very violent'

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