Marc Maron’s beloved WTF podcast is known for having some big names on the show, but even by Maron’s standards, this week’s guests were a pretty big deal. “I’m not a starstruck person, but these guys are shiny f–kers,” Maron admitted in his introduction to the Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio episode, calling them both “great actors” and “naturally gifted” movie stars. Pitt, as it turns out, is almost as big a fan of Maron, enthusiastically referring to the host as “the great Marc Maron” when he walked into the ArcLight theatre where they recorded the episode.
Pitt even referred to the host’s cancelled IFC show Maron as his “happy place”. With a love fest like that right off the bat, it was clear to listeners this was going to be a good chat.
The pair were on the podcast to promote their Quentin Tarantino flick, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which won both QT and Pitt a Golden Globe Sunday night and which finds DiCaprio playing a washed-up television cowboy who spends much of his time with Pitt’s character, his best friend and stunt double, and they were in fine form, laughing and looking back at the respective careers from their early gigs to the moment they hit that level of fame that meant nothing would be the same.
Art lovers & entertainers
Maron brought up the subject of art, mentioning Pitt’s enthusiasm for the fine art world and asking if he’d ever tried to make any of his own. The actor shared that he’d dabbled in sculpture, calling it “meditative” and recognizing the practice as a good, solitary mental break from the collaborative process of film-making. When Maron asked his guests if they recognized their own film work as art, DiCaprio quickly replied, “Yeah, I hope so,” while Pitt more hesitantly added, “We’re certainly entertainers.” (For the record, neither of them have any current aspirations of directing.)
DiCaprio and Pitt both started their careers on the small screen. In talking about first roles, Leo mentioned briefly working on the show Parenthood (based on the 1989 Steve Martin movie where DiCaprio took on the role originated by Joaquin Phoenix!) before joining Growing Pains in the early ’90s. Pitt had actually guest-starred on Growing Pains a few years earlier, playing a minor role on the iconic sitcom with Canadian television dad, Alan Thicke. Pitt went on to star in Dark Side of the Sun, a long-forgotten (if completely unknown) Yugoslavian film about a man who had to cover his entire face and body at all times because exposure to the sun could kill him. His summary of the character? “Yeah, he dies.”
While Brad and Leo are arguably amongst the most famous people currently living on planet earth, it wasn’t always that way. Both admitted that they could immediately tell when a movie didn’t work and even well-meaning friends weren’t able to lie about the results.
DiCaprio wouldn’t mention the film by name, but his friend’s five-word reaction was all he needed to know that he didn’t have a hit on his hands: “Wasn’t my cup of tea.”
First rule of Fight Club
Even some of their most popular films missed the mark with initial audiences and they have the stories to prove it.
Pitt told a hilarious tale about one of the first screenings to Fight Club. “We had the best screening ever. We had it at the Venice Film Festival and they do this midnight screening…for some reason, [Edward Norton] and I thought it would be a good idea to smoke a joint beforehand. And we go in, and they put you up in a balcony and you sit next to the guy who runs the festival, everyone’s looking at you, they clap and you sit down, it’s very formal…then the movie starts and the first joke comes up and it’s crickets, dead silence, and another joke, and it’s just dead silence…and this thing is not translating, you know, it’s subtitles.”
“The more that happened, the funnier it got to Ed and I. So we’re the a**holes in the back laughing at our own jokes.” The festival director squirmed with discomfort as he watched and eventually left the theatre without a word, which made Norton and Pitt crack up even more. “Oh, we had a good time.”
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The moment it all changed
So, when did DiCaprio know his life would never be the same? “A film called Titanic,” Leo replied, explaining that he still lived at home at the time. “I was off on location doing movies…I was in my early 20s. I never bothered to look for a house and just stayed in my mom’s house.” One day he saw four black SUVs parked outside the family home. Later that day, the vehicles followed him to the liquor store, and he realized the paparazzi were trailing him around town. When Maron asked if they still follow him that relentlessly, DiCaprio shared that it doesn’t happen nearly as much as it used to. “It doesn’t?” Pitt asked in surprise. “I’ve been able to escape a lot more,” DiCaprio revealed. “I’m a little disgruntled with you,” Pitt joked. “I’m just like, trash mag fodder. Because of my disaster of a personal life, probably.”
“You have a very exciting personal life!” Leo laughed. “Like Lil’ Kim said, the paparazzi are going to get you one way or another.” We were not expecting Leo to quote “Wait A Minute,” but here we are.
The trio went on to discuss challenging movies, including Pitt’s film Ad Astra (“I’m not going to explain it to you, I can’t explain that!”) and DiCaprio’s Inception (“What happened? I have no idea.”) They also talked in detail about working with Tarantino and DeNiro on Once a Time in Hollywood, explaining that the original cut was 4.5 hours long and a significant amount of scenes had to be cut out to make the film a reasonable length.
— h. | golden globes (@thorfirethunder) January 6, 2020
Once Upon a Time in La-la Land
Both stars connected easily to the plot of the film, with Leo explaining how his character felt real to them. “Although we’ve been incredibly fortunate and had long, successful careers, we know this world. I’d grown up around actors who almost got this role, or almost got that role, we knew the dynamic of these relationships. I’ve had guys over the years that have been my psychiatrist, my security guard, you’re on location in Africa for eight months, they’ve got your back, the hard days, they’re there for you and they really do carry the load.”
On working with Pitt on the film he added, “We just clicked.”
Maron, in his unique position as superstar podcaster and recent actor (GLOW, Joker), has an outsider-insider view of Hollywood that lets him see things in a specific way.
“People have satellite people…an ego support system. It results in a completely delusional person thinking they’re really doing amazing things,” he offered, to which both Pitt and DiCaprio cracked up. “Oh s**t, I was just calling it friendship, but you’re so right,” Pitt laughed.
“Friendship with a pay cheque,” Leo fired back.
Fair points, honestly, but we’d hang out with either of these guys for free.