LEONARDO DiCaprio was tasked with convincing Daniel Day-Lewis to come out of retirement for Gangs of New York, because director Martin Scorsese felt sure he would be able to talk the movie great into playing Bill 'the Butcher' Cutting in the film.
DiCaprio agreed to meet with Day-Lewis in New York and the two actors went for a stroll through Central Park.
In an online Screen Actors Guild interview on Friday night (21Feb14), The Wolf of Wall Street star revealed he spent weeks trying to persuade one of his heroes to take the role of a vicious thug.
He recalled, "I went to his brownstone (house) and sort of knocked on the door and he opened the door... He goes, 'Shall we walk?' And I go, 'Ok'. We started walking through Central Park and he didn't say anything to me for the first couple of minutes, so I said, 'Alright, I'm not gonna say anything to him either'.
"So we kind of walked in silence for about 10 minutes through Central Park... It was incredibly surreal and I just said to myself, 'I'm gonna wait until he's ready to speak to speak'. Finally, in the middle of Central Park, he finds a bench and he goes, 'That looks good; would you like to sit?'
"We sat down and we started talking about acting. I immediately asked him, I said, 'Look, there's a role of a gangster in turn-of-the-century New York, who's a butcher, who carries butcher knives with a top hat and a moustache in a Martin Scorsese movie. Who in their right mind wouldn't do this?'"
However, Day-Lewis wasn't convinced and it took a dinner date with DiCaprio and his pal Tobey Maguire to eventually win him round.
The Shutter Island star added, "We went out to dinner... and it was actually Tobey who said to him, 'Y'know, when somebody has a talent like yours, it's almost their responsibility to do it, to get back in the saddle'.
"I think he slightly disagreed with him at first, but eventually, thank God, he said yes."
DiCaprio later got a taste of what it is like to act opposite one of the movie world's most intense method actors.
He recalled, "There's commitment and then there's Daniel Day-Lewis... It was, like, two days before we started shooting... and I kind of walked by and... I said, 'Morning Daniel...' and he kinda went (grunt). And I said, 'Oh s**t, game on'. I don't think I said another word to him for the nine months we were there (on set). He was Bill the Butcher!"