(5 of 5)
Then, as always, he starts to worry. "O.K., it's pretentious that I'm watching this." And again he predicts how it will come out in the article. "Leo looks strangely uncomfortable as he sees himself," he says, mimicking what he fears I will write about him. "There's a certain detachment in him. He's squirmish when his scenes come on." It is kind of him to do my work for me.
But when he flips around the channels again, he hits upon the movie and delivers a perfect imitation of his developmentally delayed character's laugh. Only it isn't an imitation. "That's actually my laugh. It's really me. I swear to God, I had no thought of that character just now." This is the scariest thing I have learned thus far.
DiCaprio's friend, Ethan Suplee, the big guy in American History X, shows up and tells me about a recent run-in they've had with the paparazzi at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. DiCaprio acts it out. "O.K., pretend you're me. I'm a creepy German photographer," DiCaprio instructs. He does a great creepy German photographer. "So I said to him, 'Oh, so you're one of those scumbags.' And the guy has the audacity to say, 'O.K., we'll leave you guys alone. We'll just take a couple of pictures.' I said, 'You've got to be joking. What you have to do is turn around right now and walk away.'" For a moment, DiCaprio looks kind of tough.
"We actually started to follow them after a while. It's an actual science. If you follow them, they get paranoid. You flip the script on them," DiCaprio explains, refusing to release any more antipaparazzi intelligence.
So I'm pretty pumped for some paparazzo action at Ralphs, even though DiCaprio says the Germans were the first in almost a year. The three of us pile into his car, and he riffles through A Tribe Called Quest, Michael Jackson's Off the Wall, the Doobie Brothers and, as we pull up to the Ralphs parking lot, Bill Withers. He blasts Who Is He (What Is He to You)? and turns around to face me and recite the lyrics. For the first time he looks like a movie star. Then the song ends, he pops on the hat and glasses, and his face relaxes back into what is, to be honest, just average good-looking. Sorry, dawg.
I charge $155.36 in groceries ($6.86 verified total savings), help load the bags into his trunk and say goodbye. Two days after the interview I get the call I had been expecting. DiCaprio intends to send me a two-page fax, restating some of the themes he wanted to state in the article. Paragraph six includes excerpts from the Lonely Planet's guide to Thailand, saying how The Beach didn't cause environmental damage to the Thai island they filmed on. Paragraph five includes the sentence "The carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere is having disastrous and irreparable effects on our climate."
DiCaprio can rest now, because he won't have to do another interview until The Gangs of New York comes out. Hopefully he's in whatever place it is that he can find moments free from self-analysis. And while we may not know exactly what he's like when he's in that place, we do have a pretty good idea of what he's eating there.