An Intense Leonardo DiCaprio Biopic Is Now On Netflix

Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese teamed up for The Aviator, an award-winning biopic based on the life of Howard Hughes, which is now available on Netflix.

By Sean Thiessen | Published

Leonardo DiCaprio has had the privilege of working with some of the most renowned directors of a generation, including Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Baz Lauhrman, and Sam Raimi. His most prolific partnership, however, has been with Martin Scorsese. Together, DiCaprio and Scorsese have continually put out 21st century classics, and their second team up, The Aviator (2004), is streaming now on Netflix.

The Aviator tells the story of Howard Hughes, an industry-shaping pilot and American film producer. The film follows Hughes from his early career as a filmmaker in the 1920s, chronicling the deterioration of his work and relationships as he succumbs to undiagnosed obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). For both Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, accurately portraying Hughes’ mental illness was one of the keys to making the movie work.

The pair consulted Dr. Jeffrey M. Schwartz, an MD from UCLA, in order to fine tune DiCaprio’s portrayal of the disorder. The actor also met with several individuals who struggle with OCD in order to hear about their experiences and observe their behaviors. The research and consultation resulted in a gut-wrenching performance that earned Leonardo DiCaprio an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, The Aviator also stars Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Jude Law, Gwen Stefani, and Adam Scott. Blanchett plays actress Katharine Hepburn, who formed a romantic relationship with Howard Hughes in the late 1930s. Blanchett, who is stirring up awards season with her performance in 2022’s Tár, won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2005 for her performance as Hepburn.

Martin Scorcese’s take on the life of Howard Hughes came at the end of a long race across multiple studios to make a movie about the eclectic character. As far back as the 1970s, filmmakers like Warren Beatty, Brian de Palma, Steven Spielberg, and Christopher Nolan have had their hand on a Howard Hughes project, with actors like Edward Norton, Nicolas Cage, and Johnny Depp in the running to play Hughes. Director Michael Mann was attached to The Aviator with Leonardo DiCaprio until eventually being replaced by Scorsese.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator

After its wide release on Christmas Day, 2004, The Aviator grossed $213 million dollars, nearly doubling its $110 million production budget (which Martin Scorsese believes was a critically miscalculated figure). Still, The Aviator went on to critical and box office success, with several awards nominations and wins for Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, and crew members of the technically ambitious film.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese have made several award-winning films together. Their partnership will continue with the FBI crime drama Killers of the Flower Moon, which is expected to debut in 2023, and again with the miniseries The Devil in the White City. Little is known about the latter except that it will follow serial killer H.H. Holmes, a man who murdered women during the World’s Fair in 1893, in an adaptation of the book by Erik Larson.

The grandiose performances of Leonardo DiCaprio are wide-ranging and plentiful, and his take on Howard Hughes in The Aviator is a must-see. As of January 1, 2023, the award-winning epic is streaming on Netflix.