Leonardo DiCaprio: 'I would love to play Vladimir Putin'

Vladimir Putin At WEF

The Revenant actor – who was described by the Russian president in 2010 as a ‘real man’ – says he finds the politician ‘very, very, very interesting’

He has played drug-addled penny stock swindlers, paranoid FBI directors and sociopathic slave-owners on the big screen. But Leonardo DiCaprio has mooted the possibility of taking on his grandest role yet: Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Speaking to Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper while promoting his new film The Revenant, DiCaprio described the controversial politician as “very, very, very interesting”, adding: “I would love to play him.”

He continued: “I think there should be more films about Russian history because it has many stories worthy of Shakespeare. That is fascinating for an actor. Lenin also would be an interesting role. I would like also to star as Rasputin.”

DiCaprio has had the opportunity to study the Russian president first hand: he and Putin met in 2010 at a conference on the endangered Siberian tiger in St Petersburg.

“My foundation has provided financial support for several projects for the protection of these big cats,” DiCaprio told the newspaper. “Putin and I talked only about the protection of these magnificent animals, not politics.”

The Hollywood actor, the runaway favourite to take his first acting Oscar in five attempts for his role as a 19th-century frontiersman in The Revenant, has described himself as “half-Russian” on past visits to eastern Europe, and received fulsome praise from Putin following his 2010 trip.

The Russian leader, who was prime minister at the time, called the actor a “muzhik”, meaning “real man”, for completing his journey to St Petersburg despite a number of difficulties. DiCaprio’s first plane was forced to make an emergency landing in New York, and his second flight ended up detouring to Helsinki due to strong winds.

“I would like to thank you for coming despite all the obstacles,” Putin told the actor. ”A person with less stable nerves could have decided against coming, could have read it as a sign – that it was not worth going.”

In other DiCaprio news, the 41-year-old actor appeared on the Andrew Marr show on the BBC on Sunday morning to promote The Revenant. Asked if he was concerned that being the overwhelming bookmaker’s favourite to win best actor might backfire, the Wolf of Wall Street star replied: “The truth of the matter is that I’ve been in situations before where I’ve thought films or performances, either mine or others, should be either nominated more or adored by the public, or critics should revere it more. But it’s beyond your control.”

He added: “Knowing that I did a movie that took this much of my life, that we devoted this much to as far as focus is concerned, we gave it everything we possibly could. To sit here looking at receiving that many nominations for this film, it not only feels good but it also feels like people have a yearning to see a different type of film.”

The Revenant has received glowing reviews from critics, with the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw labelling the harrowing western an example of “gut-churningly brutal, beautiful storytelling”. But there have also been inevitable rumblings of a backlash: Observer writer Carole Cadwalladr described the film as “meaningless pain porn” in an article on Sunday in which she compared the horrors on show in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film to atrocities carried out by Isis in Iraq and Syria.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Ben Child, for theguardian.com on Monday 18th January 2016 11.57 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010