You’re teaming up with Leonardo DiCaprio for your fifth film together: The Wolf of Wall Street.
“Yes, we are. I first heard about Leo from Robert De Niro. He told me in passing, ‘I just did this thing called This Boy’s Life with this kid named Leo DiCaprio. He’s really good. You should work with him some day.’ And he rarely says that. He’s always really kind about other people, but he rarely says I should work with somebody. I saw What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and I didn’t realize it was him and he was terrific. And then of course Titanic. I thought he was very good in that. So when the word came around that he liked my movies, and his participation in Gangs of New York was able to get that movie made, a very special relationship started.”
What makes it so special?
“We’re a different generation, but he goes in the same places that I want to go. He’s not afraid to go there. He’s not afraid to deal with that part of himself and that’s interesting. We have a different context, we grew up differently, but I think we speak the same language emotionally and psychologically. It’s very lucky.
How has your daughter inspired your filmmaking?
“She’s in school and kids keep asking about the films I’ve made, so my wife said, ‘Make a film that your kid can see for once!’ The biggest, most important thing I did for my daughter — according to her — was acting in Shark Tale. I milked that for a few years. When that ran out, it was time for Hugo.
“Being a father at a later age is different from when I had my other two daughters when I was in my 20s and 30s. If you’re in your 60s and you’re with the kid every day, you’re dealing with the mind of a child, so it opens up that childishness in you again. You start playing and getting into the fantasy of the kid, so you make up even crazier stories and suddenly we’re making this movie! She’s a lifesaver!”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
“I spend time with the kid doing homework. It’s very hard. Don’t mention algebra! I’ve forgotten that completely! We work on history and English together. And then I like to read. I’m trying to catch up on everything I didn’t read, which is a couple thousand years of literature! And sometimes I’ll screen a picture late at night, usually obscure things.”