Halsey Based This Album on a Leonardo DiCaprio Film

Halsey and Leonardo DiCaprio were both prominent during the 2010s but you wouldn’t necessarily associate on with the other — or should you? Halsey actually based an entire album around one of DiCaprio’s hit movies. Here’s how the director of the film reacted to that development.

Leonardo DiCaprio in a suit
Leonardo DiCaprio | Vince Bucci/Getty Images

The Leonardo DiCaprio film Halsey watched everyday for a year

DiCaprio’s filmography includes everything from thriller to period pieces to a direct-to-video horror film. His most famous romantic movie is undoubtedly Titanic. However, it was another one of his romantic movies — Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet — which inspired one of Halsey’s albums. In an interview with Vice, Halsey discussed her obsession with the film.

“I watched it every single day for a year,” she recalled. “Had three copies of the DVD, had it on my phone, bought it on iTunes. If I had, like, a 30-minute Uber ride, I would at least watch 30 minutes of it.” Halsey decided to make an album based on the movie — but first she ran her idea by Luhrmann.

A trailer for Romeo + Juliet

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Halsey and Luhrmann had lunch. She spent the first 30 minutes of the conversation trying to figure out how to ask him if she could craft an album based on Romeo + Juliet. Luhrmann gave her his blessing and she created the album Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, which draws from Luhrmann’s movie while taking significant liberties from it and the original play. For example, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom gender-swaps characters from Luhrmann’s film.

The Romeo + Juliet influence on the album is perhaps most prominent on the song “Bad at Love.” According to Billboard, Halsey wanted that song to sound like DiCaprio driving around with his friends while wearing a Hawaiian shirt. DiCaprio famously wore a Hawaiian shirt in Romeo + Juliet. In addition, the video for the song “Alone” recalls a party scene from Romeo + Juliet.

Why Halsey thinks ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is universal

Halsey told Vice she has a theory as to why William Shakespeare’s play and its adaptations still resonate. “The Greek myth of Orpheus is the original iteration of Romeo and Juliet,” Halsey said. “Then later it was made into an Italian opera, which is why it’s set in Verona, Italy. Shakespeare stumbled upon the opera, then wrote what we know as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which was then turned into a film in the 1960s, I believe. Then Baz’s Romeo + Juliet, and now Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. The story is such a universal thing, which is what makes such a perfect topic to reinterpret.”


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How the public reacted to ‘Hopeless Fountain Kingdom’

But is the story of Romeo and Juliet truly universal? No one can definitively say so, but we can see if Halsey’s reinterpretation manged to find an audience. So how well did Hopeless Fountain Kingdom resonate with the public?

Hopeless Fountain Kingdom reached the top spot on the Billboard 200. So far, it’s Halsey’s only No. 1 album on the chart. Her other two full-length albums (Badlands and Maniac) merely reached the second position on the chart. This proves Romeo and Juliet has some renounce with modern listeners — even if adapted very loosely, as is the case with Hopeless Fountain Kingdom.