The filmmakers of Shutter Island had only three-time Academy Award® nominee Leonardo DiCaprio in mind to play the lead role. Shutter Island, distributed by United International Pictures, is currently showing in Metro Manila theaters.
Director Martin Scorsese wholeheartedly backed the choice. "Having worked with Leo on Gangs of New York, The Aviator and The Departed, I thought immediately that he should do this," he says. "We have a way of working together now and I had faith and trust in him as an artist to achieve the many psychological and emotional states that Teddy has to reach, and to transform throughout. Have I seen him do this before? Not to this level, I think. As he gets older, he goes deeper and deeper."
DiCaprio was convinced of the role as soon as he read the script. "A lot of things about this character appealed to me," he explains. "Teddy comes to Shutter Island devoted to solving a mystery and to uncover what is really going on, but he has his own innermost agenda and secrets. He’s in a situation where there’s a lot more to his journey than there at first appears to be. One of the great things about the story is that it’s constantly jarring you. It works on so many different levels; it’s like a giant layer cake."
He was also drawn to reuniting with Scorsese. "The one thing I don’t think people understand about Scorsese is how much he believes in the actors he hires and how much he depends on them doing their homework before they show up on the set," DiCaprio comments. "He’s a master filmmaker and he knows how to navigate the human mind and portray things about the human condition, but he lets the actors really dictate what he puts up on the screen."
Once he took on the role, DiCaprio was inspired to undertake his own personal research. He delved into the specialized training of a real 1950s U.S. Marshal, explored the experiences of World War II vets and learned about the psychiatric techniques used in mental institutions during the period. He also read and re-read Lehane’s novel.