In this interview which Leonardo DiCaprio did with Ellen DeGeneres, he is promoting The Revenant, the movie that would win him his first Academy Award. The interview takes place in a world where DiCaprio is eager, and some say overdue, for his first Oscar win. Viewers at the time were expecting The Revenant to be an award-winning performance, and Leo and the studio are making an effort to sell this film as exactly that.
Ellen states near the beginning that she believes DiCaprio is destined to win for his performance, and then immediately shifts to the subject of the intricate camera work used in filming and the long hours and harsh conditions under which they shot the film. DiCaprio, for his part, comes off as a serious and dedicated performer who was willing to brave the harsh filming conditions in order to make The Revenant.
Great care is taken to focus on the dreadful experiences DiCaprio faced. He cracks a joke about how the days felt “like Saturday Night Live, but with no punch line,” and he goes on to explain that they only actually shot footage for about an hour and a half a day while spending the rest of the long days rehearsing in preparation for the Magic Hour in the early evening.
Throughout this interview, it is clear that Ellen’s fan base of suburban housewives is the target audience. In order to show the trouble Leo went through, images from the film are projected onto the screen behind DeGeneres and DiCaprio while they speak, and the stage is lush with plants and other reminders of the natural world. DiCaprio himself, though, looks polished and acts as charming as ever.
While other interviews from this time focus on stories from his life that make him worthy of playing such an extreme character (WIRED Magazine), this interview is focused on presenting Leo as the heartthrob housewives everywhere know and love. He is well-groomed and well-behaved, and speaks only about the seriousness of his work.
For different groups of potential viewers, a different argument is made as to why they should see the film. While his above interview with Wired focuses on his life as a maverick adventurer who would act in this movie for thrills –and whom any teenage reader of Wired magazine would want to emulate- this interview with Ellen focuses much more on those that prefer the comfort of their own homes. Ellen’s audience is more risk- averse and views DiCaprio more as an artist than as an adventurer. His interview performance speaks to that.
Overall, while DiCaprio’s interview on the Ellen Show is just another cookie-cutter celebrity interview, it demonstrates the care that goes into marketing for a film depending on the audience. DiCaprio takes care to show a side of himself that will be attractive to Ellen’s largely female audience, and makes a very tailored (and ultimately successful) argument as to why he should win and Academy Award. The shrubs by which he is surrounded onstage, and the still shots projected in the background are reminiscent of his shooting conditions. Ellen and Leo are just friends sitting in easy chairs, discussing art over a cup of coffee, and they are inviting you to join them.
Of course, you’d have to see the film first…