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Howard Hughes was a larger-than-life filmmaker, tycoon, aviator - and obsessive compulsive.Leonardo Di Caprio, who plays him in the Oscar-tipped The Aviator, tells John Hiscock how his own milder form of the disorder gave him an insight into the role For Leonardo Di Caprio, it was one of those moments when he didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
"He was the last private man in America," says Di Caprio.It ends with Hughes's one and only flight at the controls of the Spruce Goose, the giant flying boat he designed and built.In between, among other things, the film covers his love affair with Katharine Hepburn, a stormy romance with Ava Gardner, his flight around the world in a record-breaking four days, his purchase of Trans-World Airlines, his feuds with Pan-Am, his victory over a corrupt US Senator and his fight with film censors for the right to show Jane Russell's cleavage on screen.Robert De Niro, however, spotted it and chose him for This Boy's Life and he was on the way. , won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and he used his new-found recognition to take on a variety of roles, as a young gunslinger in The Quick and the Dead, a heroin-addicted youth in The Basketball Diaries, Arthur Rimbaud in Total Eclipse and Romeo in Baz Luhrmann's version of Romeo Juliet. But in the seven years since then he has made only four films, none of which was hugely successful.The first two, The Beach and The Man in the Iron Mask, were panned by the critics and the second two, Gangs of New York and Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, did not make the impression expected of them.