Not even Chuck Norris could have endured the kinds of horrors frontiersman Hugh Glass survived. In 1823, Glass was mauled by a grizzly bear but managed to crawl 200 miles — with a broken leg and gangrenous wounds — to exact revenge on the men who took his weapons and left him for dead. He ate berries to stay alive and used maggots to treat the deep gashes on his back. That’s some pretty extreme Eagle Scouting.
The whole harrowing ordeal is the subject of Alejandro Iñárritu’s Golden Globe nominee and likely Oscar contenderThe Revenant, which arrives in Toronto theatres Jan. 8. And that means that the director (who won some Academy Awards for Birdman) is reacquainting the masses with a folk hero whose name used to be synonymous with feats of impossible outlandishness. He was the original Bill Brasky.
But Glass isn’t the only legendary character to emerge from the movie. The other is Leonardo DiCaprio, the Oscarless actor who plays Glass. With each interview, some new tidbit seems to emerge about the extent of the tortuousness of making The Revenant. It just keeps getting worse and worse.
How bad was it? Let’s take a look at eight of the trials (in order of least to most taxing) that DiCaprio had to survive in order to make the movie and maybe — finally — score that Oscar.
He lived with a bedraggled beard for a year-and-a-half
So this isn’t particularly difficult, though it probably got a bit itchy. But like all great legends, the Tale of the Beard took on a life of its own. DiCaprio’s unruly facial hair was pretty gross, so it was only a matter of time before the National Enquirer published gossip about fleas forming a community inside of Leo’s hair nest. (And poor New Regency actually had to field questions about and dispute the absurd claim.)
The actor told Variety that his beard became “like a spouse,” which … what? Because it was always around? Because it was a deterrent to finding female companionship? Because it gave him the silent treatment? Who knows? But getting rid of the thing was like “shaving off dreads,” according to the actor.
He had to travel for hours to remote locations for bite-sized shoots
Iñárritu isn’t one to do anything halfway. He wasn’t going to use a sound stage or greenscreen, and he wanted to convey the awesome power of nature by filming in relatively untouched places, which meant — for the most part — Alberta.
The cast and crew stayed in a hotel that was about a two-hour drive on unpaved roads from the shooting location, according to Men’s Journal. And once there, time was limited because cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki shot using only natural light. So if any of the highly-choreographed scenes didn’t go according to plan, there was’t always time for a reshoot, and that day basically ended up being a big, freezing cold waste of time.
“The sun hits only where you need it to be for about 20 minutes a day,” DiCaprio’s co-star Domhnall Gleeson told the magazine. (This is possibly a bit of hyperbole, as other interviews peg the amount of time to more like 90 minutes, which is still a tiny window.) “If you don’t get the shot during that 20 minutes, then you’re back the next day. We had one absolutely nutty scene that involved running in and out of water and getting onto a boat, and a lot of guys on horses coming toward us, and arrows and guns going off. That was all in one shot. Your nerves are absolutely shredded.”
He routinely had to be up before sunrise
Given that DiCaprio had to look like a man recovering (barely) from a grizzly attack while also weathering extreme elements, he had to wear a lot of makeup. In fact, he donned 47 different prosthetics over the course of the shoot. And in order to be ready for the perfect window of natural light, DiCaprio had to be up by 3 a.m. some days to sit through four or five hours of makeup application, according to makeup artist Sian Grigg.
Read more:The Star