It has been a big December for both "Star Wars" and Leonardo DiCaprio. "The Force Awakens" returned the George Lucas-founded sci-fi film franchise to the top of the box office, while "The Revenant" has DiCaprio eyeing his first, long overdue Oscar. But more than a decade ago, the fates of "Star Wars" and DiCaprio could have been linked by much more than timing.
In a interview to promote "The Revenant," Alejandro González Iñárritu's film where he plays a frontiersman who seeks revenge against the man who left him for dead, DiCaprio confirmed that he was offered the key role of Anakin Skywalker in the 2002 "Star Wars" prequel "Attack of the Clones" and its sequel, "Revenge of the Sith."
"I did have a meeting with George Lucas about that, yes," DiCaprio told ShortList. "[I] just didn't feel ready to take that dive, at that point." Hayden Christensen was cast instead.
Just what was DiCaprio ready for in 2000, the year "Attack of the Clones" was filming? Then 25, he was fresh off his starring role in Danny Boyle's "The Beach," both a commercial and critical disaster and a disappointment for DiCaprio, who was struggling to live up to the "Leo-mania" level of fame he had achieved with "Titanic" in 1997. DiCaprio did not work much in 2000, the year "Attack of the Clones" was filmed, seemingly taking a break to reassess the direction of his career after "The Beach."
The patience paid off. DiCaprio returned in 2001 with the indie "Don's Plum," then really began heating up with 2002's "Gangs of New York" (filmed in 2001). The Oscar-nominated film led to his continuing partnership with director Martin Scorsese and a string of critical and commercial hits, including "Catch Me If You Can" and "The Departed." Had DiCaprio signed on for "Star Wars," he would have spent 2003 filming the ill-received "Revenge of the Sith." Instead he went on to be nominated for his second Oscar for his role in Scorsese's 2004 film, "The Aviator."
DiCaprio may be on the outside looking in as "Star Wars" once again becomes the biggest movie franchise in the world, but four Oscar nominations later (he has five total with a predicted sixth on the way for "The Revenant"), he's not sweating it.