Paul Thomas Anderson explains how Leo DiCaprio’s father got into a new movie

Paul Thomas Anderson explains the curious circumstances that led Leonardo DiCaprio’s father to play a small role in Licorice Pizza.

Paul Thomas Anderson has described exactly how he managed to get a cameo from Leonardo DiCaprio’s father George in his new film Licorice pizza. Starring Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper and Benny Safdie, the film follows a teenager who finds love in the San Fernando Valley in the early 1970s. It premiered in limited theaters on November 26 and debuted at number 13 on the domestic box office charts over the weekend. Licorice Pizza broke a pandemic box office record and got the best three-day total of all specialty films from just four cinemas.


There is a short scene in the film that shows a hippie who owns a waterbed shop. This quirky character is brought to life by an even quirkier cast choice: George DiCaprio. Although he has produced many short and full-length documentaries and has experience as a performance artist, the 78-year-old had never acted in front of a camera before Licorice Pizza.

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On Twitter, New York Times writer Kyle Buchanan shared outtakes from his interview with Licorice Pizza director Paul Thomas Anderson, including explaining how he arranged that cameo. While writing the film, Anderson had an idea of ​​what the character should look like, and after racking his brain, realized that George DiCaprio was exactly what he wanted. Anderson “tracked him down” and “explained the scenario to him,” and DiCaprio agreed to be on the film. See the full excerpt below:

I took a picture of a guy who owned a wig shop that sold these waterbeds and I couldn’t pinpoint it. I kept saying, “Who do I know who looks like this?” And like a flash of lightning I remember it: “Leo’s father looks exactly like this.” So I tracked him down and asked him if he would ever be interested in a movie. He said, “Sure.” I explained the scenario to him. He said, “Sounds great. Did Leo tell you I own a waterbed company? It was called Foggy Bottom.”

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The special thing about this cameo is the fact that Paul Thomas Anderson has never made a film with Leonardo DiCaprio. The actor has worked with many well-known directors, including Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan and Alejandro Iñárritu, he and Anderson did not crossbreed. It’s a certainty that they would have met at one awards dinner or another, but the fact that Anderson knows enough about the actor to know what his father looks like adds a new level of intrigue to the situation.

It’s not uncommon for relatives and friends of celebrities to have minor cameos on projects, but usually only on projects where that celebrity actually stars. The fact that Anderson selected George DiCaprio to be in Licorice pizza shows how deep his connection to pop culture and cinema is. He has a connection with the people who make Hollywood work, even those he has never worked with in person. It also shows its flexibility and willingness to go any distance to get the desired result on screen.

Next: Every Paul Thomas Anderson film in the ranking

Source: Kyle Buchanan / Twitter

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Brennan Klein
(357 published articles)

Brennan (he / he) is a senior writer at Screen Rant and a millennial who knows more about the slasher films of the 80s than he is entitled to. As a former host of the Attack of the Queerwolf podcast, Brennan has been writing and podcasting on pop culture (especially horror films) for a decade. Brennan’s interests also include the muppets, gum pop from around the world, and reading (notably Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, the manga of Junji Ito, and novels of magical realism). His favorite directors are Wes Craven and Pedro Almodóvar.

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