With the trend of sequels and franchise development on the rise, this concept is swiftly becoming the norm within modern film making. Many projects are no longer pitched as stand alone features as audiences have developed the appetite for larger feats of storytelling. Within this climate it is rare to find an actor, even an A list talent that does not have at least one franchise feature on their resume. Unless you are Leonardo DiCaprio.
DiCaprio is in fact the highest grossing Hollywood actor to have never made a sequel within his adult career (no one is counting 1991's Critters 3, everyone must start somewhere). With his latest project; The Revenant attracting the award season buzz that has become standard for any DiCaprio led project, the actor has discussed this sequel-avoiding phenomena, outlining his views on the subject and theory regarding possible sequels in the future.
DiCaprio became a household name in his teens with heartthrob roles in blockbusters such as Titanic along with provocative parts in smaller projects like The Basketball Diaries and his Oscar nominated turn in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, where he was able to showcase his range and deftness as an outstanding character actor. It is impossible to discuss the actor now without mention of the where-is-his-Oscar controversy, few actors with his undebatable talent have received as many nominations for Best Actor at the Academy Awards without taking it to the win (DiCaprio was nominated for The Wolf Of Wall Street, Blood Diamond and The Aviator).
His latest feature, Alejandro González Iñárritu's (Birdman) grittily brutal and stunning western; The Revenant - like most DiCaprio projects, is tipped to receive Oscar attention with early reviews looking strong. In his recent interview (to promote the film) with Variety, DiCaprio discusses his avoidance of sequels and franchise installments to date:
“To me, every movie that I’ve done has been its own piece of individual art........ That’s not to say I wouldn’t do something that has sequels. Some of the greatest movies in the world ‘The Godfather’ have had sequels. ‘The Godfather 2’ is fantastic. You read a script, it’s got a beginning and an end. It’s hard to envision that being resurrected again. It just hasn’t happened.”
In the past, DiCaprio has been considered for roles such as Spider-Man, Anakin Skywalker, and Robin - all of which could of spelled multiple features, but the movies he has chosen over the course of his career have all been of the stand alone variety. However, as evidenced by quotes like the one above, the actor has not discredited franchises and the concept of multi-installment series altogether.
DiCaprio has just reached the point in his career where his age removes him from the spectrum of dashing love interest roles and into more complex fare (Matthew McConaughey is in a similar boat). His talent for realizing complex character roles has raised the bar for the films he works on (in terms of their quality), but his penchant for working with the cream of directing talent and obvious proclivity towards biopics and literary adaptations does not make it seem likely he will lean towards installment features any time soon.
Perhaps an Oscar win for The Revenant could relax DiCaprio's career quest for quality for over quantity. Maybe an unexpected foray into an interesting franchise or even a comedy would be a refreshing and enjoyable change post-Oscar success (if and when that happens)!
The Revenant will have a limited release starting December 25th for awards consideration and then go into nation-wide release in the U.S. on January 8th 2016.