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DiCaprio's new role is toughest challenge yet

Leonardo DiCaprio said today he was faced with his most challenging role yet in the new gothic thriller Shutter Island.

The Martin Scorsese-directed movie sees 35-year-old DiCaprio play Teddy Daniels, a hard-bitten war veteran who arrives at a fortress-like island housing a hospital for the criminally insane.

He is investigating the disappearance of a killer, but during the dark mystery he becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of riddles, fearing he is reaching the limits of his own sanity.

DiCaprio told a press conference in London he needs to "switch off" outside work in order to survive such demanding roles.

He said: "By sheer necessity to survive the film-making process I do switch off when I go home because if I don't, especially in roles as demanding as this... Look, ultimately I'm challenged by these types of characters.

"This is the most challenging one to date for me. Physically yes but emotionally more so."

He described the story, which also stars Ben Kingsley, as "a complex jigsaw puzzle".

"[We] kept pushing Teddy to darker and darker places throughout the course of the film."

DiCaprio described a "sombre mood going home every day".

He said: "It is the nature of the character dealing with extreme emotional trauma and it's hard for those types of things not to rub off on you, but for the most part I do like to isolate myself away from most people when I'm filming for months at a time, and so I wouldn't necessarily get a reaction from anyone else because I was mostly alone."