Leonardo DiCaprio’s ‘The Revenant’: The Story Behind The Bear Attack

Leonardo DiCaprio has become the stuff of legend since filming The Revenant. Getting into character and delivering an authentic performance is something that DiCaprio takes very seriously, but it was particularly challenging for DiCaprio to get into the character of Hugh Glass in The Revenant. The Daily Herald reports some of the things Leonardo DiCaprio revealed in various interviews that he went through for the sake of his art.

Perhaps one of the easiest parts of filming was the need to travel to remote locations every day to catch the 90 minutes of perfect light they needed for a scene. Domhnall Gleeson, who co-starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, explained their shooting schedule.

“The sun hits only where you need it to be for about 20 minutes a day. 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.”

Leonardo DiCaprio got sick frequently while filming but worked anyway, even while under the weather.

Leonardo DiCaprio also ate raw bison liver. Even though a fake liver was available as a prop, he didn’t think it looked authentic enough. Keep in mind, DiCaprio is a vegetarian.

“The bad part is the membrane around it. It’s like a balloon. When you bite into it, it bursts in your mouth.”

Hypothermia was always a threat and it got so cold, down to -40 degrees, that they couldn’t open their eyes and finally decided they had to take a break.

“At that point we couldn’t really open our eyes. And our fingers locked together and the camera gear locked together, and I just looked at Alejandro and said, ‘I’m all for enduring realism, but there comes a point when nothing is operable.'”

Perhaps the bear attack is the most terrifying scene in the entire film. The simulation of the bear attack did not involve a real bear, but it did involve being thrown around a lot.

Time reports that in the book The Oregon Trail, the story of the bear attack was told in gruesome detail.

“Before Glass could shoot or retreat, the animal had seized him and bitten out a large chunk of his flesh, which she dropped to her younglings. Glass screamed for his fellows but before they could kill the bear he had been mangled from head to foot.”

Vanity Fair reports that even the costumes were kept as authentic as possible. They used fake bear grease (the natives once used real bear grease) to rub into the genuine furs they were wearing to help insulate them better and keep them dry. Costume designer Jacqueline West said that the wax supplier for the cast, Karen Durrant, was kept on set and nearby at all times.

“Whenever anything needed more layers, more patina of the bear grease, she would put it on right there on the set.”

With all of the effort that went into a truly authentic performance, what are Leonardo DiCaprio’s chances of winning an Oscar this year? Probably very good, which is fabulous because DiCaprio has been nominated for an Oscar five times throughout his career and has yet to win a single one. Just a few more weeks and fans of DiCaprio and The Revenant will be able to see how many awards the actor and the movie receive. Until then, here is the trailer for The Revenant, which barely scratches the surface of Leonardo DiCaprio’s incredible performance.

[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]