The story of how Leonardo DiCaprio’s dad ended up in licorice pizza (and how Leo reacted)

Paul Thomas Anderson is back with Licorice Pizza, a critically acclaimed coming-of-age film about an improbable romance in the San Fernando Valley in 1973. The film stars the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cooper Hoffman, and Haim- Band member Alana Haim. starred in her first acting roles. But there is one other person who made Licorice Pizza her first film role: Leonardo DiCaprio’s father. Coincidentally, I know, but wait until you hear the story behind the role.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Paul Thomas Anderson haven’t worked on a movie yet, so it’s amazing that Oscar-winning actor’s father George DiCaprio beat him with it. Old DiCaprio, a 78-year-old writer and publisher, has never immersed himself in the Hollywood world like his son, but in Licorice Pizza he plays the small role of Mr. Jack. The New York Times’ Kyle Buchanan took to Twitter to share part of his recent chat with Anderson in which the director shed some light on the subject:

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: ‘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’.

Licorice Pizza follows 15-year-old Gary Valentine (played by Cooper Hoffman) who meets Alana Haim’s Alana Kane, a 25-year-old assistant to a photographer. The couple begin a love affair that eventually includes the sale of waterbeds. The filmmaker retold the story, with a wild connection between George DiCaprio and his role:

I explained the scenario to him. He said, ‘Sounds great. Did Leo tell you I own a waterbed company? ‘ It was called Foggy Bottom. ‘ It was one of those things. I said, ‘Well, you are the right man for the job.’

How did PTA know he’d properly pushed Leo’s father into a job he once had? I would blame the filmmaker for finding the right people to play the roles he conjures up in his films. For example, he selected two unknown actors to star in Licorice Pizza, and now each of them receives high praise.

Funnily enough, Leonardo DiCaprio has his own movie that comes out on the same day as his father’s. He will appear in Adam McKay’s satire Don’t Look Up alongside greats like Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, Tyler Perry and Timothée Chalamet. (You can check out CinemaBlend’s review of Don’t Look Up before it releases). While celebrating the film at its New York City premiere, he shared his reaction to ET:

Haven’t seen it yet, but my father, George DiCaprio, made a cameo in a Paul Thomas Anderson movie! Today was a good day.

Licorice pizza seems to be filled with interesting and fancy industry picks. Bradley Cooper portrays the American film producer Jon Peters in the 1970s, Steven Spielberg’s daughter Sasha and Jack Nicholson’s son Ray play a small role. These are deep cuts that we would not necessarily have noticed before. But now that you know, check out Licorice Pizza in theaters on December 25th and see if you can spot George DiCaprio.

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