Stacey Sher (producer):
Leonardo has a level of commitment and seriousness about his work that I don’t think people recognize because he’s very quiet, and he’s very humble, and he keeps to himself. He is the person who learned as a young man from Robert De Niro in
This Boy's Life
He’s the person who cares about the filmmakers that he works with, and he brings his intelligence, and his commitment, and his desire to get you closer and closer to the truth.
He let me know he was interested in it. I tried not to be that specific with the character in the script, and I tried not to describe him too much, so it could be open for interpretation. But I was thinking, possibly, of an older actor. And then Leo read the script and liked it and we got together and started talking.
I just started imagining how much easier it would be to reconfigure the guy as a Caligula; a boy emperor. His daddy's daddy's daddy started a cotton business and his daddy's daddy continued it and made it profitable, and his daddy made it even more profitable.
Now, he’s the fourth Candie in line to take over the cotton business and he’s bored with it.
He doesn’t care about cotton: that’s why he’s into the Mandingo fighters. But he’s the petulant boy prince. He’s Louis XIV in Versailles. So I wanted to really play with that idea, of King Louis XIV, but in the South. Candyland is a completely enclosed community, about 65 miles long. That’s a fiefdom. He has the power of a king; he can execute people, or do whatever he wants.”
One of the most vile aspects of his character is that he’s just got this charm, and yet he doesn’t really think he’s doing anything wrong.
He’s this guy that’s got too much money, too much power, too much time on his hands, and he can run people’s lives. He’s a Caligula. He’s quite mad, but he justifies all of it.
People aren’t gonna like him. But they’ll respect his work. I mean I’m watching it and I’m very drawn in. He is very precise. He pays a great deal of attention to detail.