The Leonardo DiCaprio Award-Winning Film That Made The Actor Lose His Mind

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

leonardo dicaprio
The Aviator

The Aviator, the biographical drama based on the life of aviation magnate Howard Hughes, marked the sixth collaboration between Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese. Although the film earned critical acclaim, the actor says the role was a strain on his mental well-being. “You get into your own headspace and really don’t want to talk to anyone,” he said via FandomWire.

Playing Howard Hughes in The Aviator took a mental toll on Leonardo DiCaprio.

“I spent a lot of time just sitting around the screening room alone,” Leonardo DiCaprio said about preparing for the scene, which showcases Hughes’ mental breakdown resulting from severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However, after seeing the film, the actor said the mental toll was worth it due to the positive reception from critics and viewers.

Directed by Martin Scorsese from a script by John Logan, The Aviator was released in 2004. The movie chronicles the life of the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), exploring his career as a successful film producer and director. It also deals with Hughes’ struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and his fascination with aviation.

The story takes place between the late 1920s and 1940s, showcasing Hughes groundbreaking movies such as Hell’s Angels and The Outlaw. To get his films made, Hughes faced challenges with studio executives, censorship boards, and his personal demons. The film also delves into his relationships with prominent actresses of the time, including Katharine Hepburn and Ava Gardner.

The Leonardo DiCaprio movie was well-received, earning approximately $213 million at the global box office against a production budget of $110 million. The film received 11 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and won five Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress for Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Katharine Hepburn.

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Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughs in The Aviator

“You get into your own headspace and really don’t want to talk to anyone. I spent a lot of time just sitting around the screening room alone.”

LeoNardo Dicaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as Howard Hughes showcased his versatility as an actor. The film was lauded for its artistry, historical accuracy, and attention to detail in recreating the era. Critics applauded Martin Scorsese’s direction and the film’s cinematography by Robert Richardson. The Aviator also featured several cameos, including Jude Law as Errol Flynn and Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow.

Leonardo DiCaprio/Martin Scorsese Collaborations

Other films Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have collaborated on include the 2002 crime/drama Gangs of New York. The story takes place in 19th-century New York City and stars DiCaprio alongside Daniel Day-Lewis and Cameron Diaz. That was followed by The Departed in 2006, which sees an undercover cop infiltrating a criminal gang.

In 2010, Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio introduced viewers to the psychological thriller Shutter Island. The story follows a U.S. Marshal investigating a mysterious psychiatric facility on a secluded island. In 2013, the pair collaborated on The Wolf of Wall Street, a black comedy-drama based on the true story of corrupt stockbroker Jordan Belfort.

Their latest project, Killers of the Flower Moon, is set to be released on October 20, 2023. Set in the 1920s, the story follows an FBI investigation into the murder of the Osage Native American tribe of Osage County, Oklahoma, after oil is found on their land. Martin Scorsese directs the movie from a screenplay he co-wrote with Eric Roth.

Based on the 2017 David Grann book of the same name, Killers of the Flower Moon stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Ernest Burkhart, Robert De Niro as William Hale, and Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart, among others.