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Clint Eastwood is one of the entertainment industry’s biggest names. He’s able to move between acting and directing with ease. Many actors yearn to work with the legendary figure and become a part of his filmography. Eastwood said that actor Leonardo DiCaprio took a staggering 90% pay cut to work on the movie J. Edgar.

‘J. Edgar’ is based on the true story

'J. Edgar' star Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood facing each other in suits
L-R: Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI

2011’s J. Edgar is a biographical drama. Eastwood directs a screenplay written by Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. The nonlinear narrative explores the career of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover (DiCaprio). He was the powerful head of the agency for almost 50 years, as Eastwood’s film explores both his professional and personal life.

J. Edgar also includes performances by Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, and Judi Dench. Adam Driver makes his film debut as Walter Lyle. The movie is based on a true story, although some historians previously spoke up regarding some historical inaccuracies, such as the film’s central narrative device.

The story that spans 50 years was made for only $35 million over the course of 39 days.

Clint Eastwood said that Leonardo DiCaprio took a 90% pay cut to ‘vary’ his work

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed an array of J. Edgar cast and crew. Eastwood spoke about DiCaprio joining the cast as its lead. The Titanic actor wanted to work with Eastwood and was willing to take a substantial pay cut to do so. Eastwood recognized that DiCaprio could easily score roles in huge studio films, but that he had other things on his mind for his filmography.

“He could have made a lot of money just doing spectacle movies with all kinds of CGI,” Eastwood said. “But he wants to vary his career, like I’ve always looked to vary mine as a director.”

DiCaprio was 36 years old at the time, making Eastwood 45 years his senior. However, it’s clear that they both had similar career aspirations. They continue to diversify their careers with projects that span genres and storytelling methods. However, Eastwood moved more into directing, while DiCaprio continues to expand his acting career. He was willing to sit in the makeup chair for hours to get the character just right.

‘J. Edgar’ earned praise for its performances


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Critics and audiences had generally negative reactions to J. Edgar as a whole. The movie sits at 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, critics praised J. Edgar for its marvelous performances. They criticize Eastwood’s storytelling but applaud DiCaprio’s powerhouse performance in the title role.

DiCaprio and Hammer both earned Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations for their performances in J. Edgar. The film isn’t Eastwood’s most acclaimed feature, but it’s clear that DiCaprio got something out of working with the legendary filmmaker and actor.

DiCaprio continues to work with directors that he finds intriguing. He most recently starred in Adam McKay’s environmental crisis satire Don’t Look Up.