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DiCaprio took a wild pay cut to star in this Clint Eastwood movie

When Leonardo DiCaprio wanted to play J. Edgar Hoover for Clint Eastwood, he agreed to a huge pay cut due to the film's small budget.

Leonardo DiCaprio

By 2010, Leonardo DiCaprio had already worked with directing giants such as Baz Luhrmann, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Steven Spielberg, and most famously – Martin Scorsese. But there was one titan of cinema that he hadn’t yet collaborated with, and he was willing to take a giant pay cut in order to do so. And that was the living legend Clint Eastwood.

Much was being made at the time that Eastwood was still directing in his 80s, but he’s now 93 and he’s currently starring in and directing a new drama movie – Juror #2. Back in 2011, Eastwood wanted to take on a huge figure in American 20th century history – J. Edgar Hoover – the first head of the FBI.

Eastwood was given the small budget of $35 million, which isn’t much when there are stars involved, plus it’s a period production which spans 50 years. A 2011 Hollywood Reporter article explains; “On February 7, production on the 128-page script started in downtown Los Angeles and the Warner and Paramount backlots. The small budget and 39-day shoot put enormous pressure on the cast and crew. In one case, when a house is bombed, the whole set had to be transformed within an hour. ‘It went from an unscathed building into a bombed-out one during the dinner break,’ says production designer James Murakami.”

Leonardo DiCaprio slashed his fee from $20 million to $2 million, meaning he was paid just 10% of his usual fee. “He could have made a lot of money just doing spectacle movies with all kinds of CGI,” said Eastwood of his first-time collaborator. “But he wants to vary his career, like I’ve always looked to vary mine as a director.”

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Looking back now, DiCaprio feels like a natural fit for a Clint Eastwood movie. It was also not DiCaprio’s first time working in that period – as he’d made Sam Mendes’ Revolutionary Road and Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. He’d also done The Aviator (set in the 20s-40s) and Shutter Island (set in the mid-50s) for Martin Scorsese.

Check out our guide to movies based on a true story.