“A homicidal maniac that will maybe light me on fire”: Leonardo DiCaprio Was Warned About His Co-star Who Had a Gun, Matches and a Bottle of Whiskey While Shooting

"A homicidal maniac that will maybe light me on fire": Leonardo DiCaprio Was Warned About His Co-star Who Had a Gun, Matches and a Bottle of Whiskey While Shooting
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Martin Scorsese’s 2006 film, The Departed, was like no other. The crime thriller starred Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, and more big names. The Departed was so well received by the audience that it went on to bring home four Academy Awards, including Martin Scorsese’s only personal Oscar.

The Departed
Martin Scorsese on the set of The Departed

Well, in order to stand out from the crowd, you have to think out of the box. Renowned actor, Jack Nicholson (playing Frank Costello), who also starred in the movie absolutely understood the assignment. He knew what he had to do to make magic on the set of The Departed, which included leaving Leonardo DiCaprio, who played the role of Trooper, terrified.

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An Unforgettable Moment for Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson in The Departed
Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson as Trooper and Frank

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Martin Scorsese knew what he was signing up for when he added Jack Nicholson to the ensemble of The Departed. The actor would not hold back when it came to putting all of his creativity into the film and his character and Scorsese was all for it. Nicholson had all the right ideas to set the stage on fire, literally. Yes, he was actually planning to set the stage on fire for a sequence but his idea never came to fruition.

Another time, Nicholson terrified his co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio, during one of the scenes. DiCaprio and Nicholson’s characters sat down for a one-on-one chat, which was already terrifying enough. However, Nicholson knew he could do better.


During a press conference for the film, DiCaprio stated,

“There were number of different scenes where I had no idea what was going to happen. One scene in particular, we did the scene one way, and I remember Jack speaking to Marty because he said he didn’t feel that he was intimidating enough. It was one of the table scenes. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life as far as being an actor is concerned. I remember coming into the scene one way and then I came in the next day and the prop guy told me, ‘Well, be careful he’s got a fire extinguisher, a gun, some matches, and a bottle of whiskey.’”

DiCaprio also stated that he was not truly afraid as everyone is a professional on the set. However, it did not help that his character was surrounded by dangerous people, and on top of that, he had to sit across a “homicidal maniac.”

“But, for me as an actor, it wasn’t necessarily [that] I’m afraid. We’re all professional actors and we’re all playing roles, but for me playing this character of this guy that has to relay to the audience this constant 24-hour panic attack that I’m going through for my life, surrounded by people that would literally blow my head off if I gave them any indication of who I was, coupled with the fact that I’m sitting across the table from a homicidal maniac that will maybe light me on fire.”

That’s right, Nicholson pulled out an actual gun on the actor just to be a bit more intimidating. He sure was not pulling back when it came to getting into character completely. His plan worked fine as according to Scorsese, you can see DiCaprio’s very real, terrified reaction in the film.


Also Read: Steven Spielberg Was Terrified 2 Time Oscar Winner Tom Hanks Would Reject $352M Leonardo DiCaprio Movie Until Hanks’ Professionalism Made Him Realize He’s a Legend

Jack Nicholson Wanted to Try Something Different

Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed
Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed

Nicholson’s improvisation might have sent a chill down DiCaprio’s spine, but it made for one hell of a scene. But what exactly went through the As Good As It Gets actor’s mind when he decided to improvise? Well, he had a little more time than usual on his hands and wanted to try something different.

Talking to Variety, Nicholson recalls how he came up with the plan and how “priceless” the look was on the face of the prop master when he made his demands.


“There wasn’t any gun in the script. We had shot the scene the night before but Marty said he had a light schedule the next day and wanted to try a few more takes. I wanted to come up with something different, so I asked the prop master to hide a gun on the set, and to bring a fire extinguisher as well. The look on his face when I asked for the fire extinguisher was priceless.”

Well, we get why the request would come off as a bit unsettling to some. Of course, Nicholson only had the film’s best interest in mind. Thanks to his quick and creative thinking, the actor gave DiCaprio some of the most intense moments of the film as well as some unforgettable memories.

You can stream The Departed on Netflix.

Source: Far Out Magazine


Written by Mishkaat Khan

Articles Published: 1135

Mishkaat is a medical student who found solace in content writing. Having worked in the industry for about three years, she has written about everything from medicine to literature and is now happy to enlight you about the world of entertainment. She has written over 500 articles for FandomWire. When not writing, she can be found obsessing over the world of the supernatural through books and TV.