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Last Updated: Monday, 17 January, 2005, 09:36 GMT
Scorsese's Aviator takes flight
Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hughes in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator
Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator has won best film at this year's Golden Globe Awards, while its star Leonardo DiCaprio was named best actor.

Despite a long and impressive career, that includes such classics as Goodfellas, Raging Bull and Mean Streets, director Martin Scorsese has yet to win an Oscar either for best picture or best director.

But following its success at the Golden Globe awards, where it picked up three prizes, it looks as though The Aviator could be the film to change all that.

It takes a look at the early life of film director and entrepreneur Howard Hughes, from the 1920s when he was attempting to complete his Hollywood epic Hell's Angels, through to his experiments with air travel.

Eccentric

It also focuses on his relationships with several Hollywood legends, including Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale), as well as his struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder which led to his increasingly eccentric behaviour.

The film has been a long time coming to the screen, and at one point was all set to go ahead with Michael Mann in the director's chair.
The Aviator
Cate Blanchett plays Katharine Hepburn, Jude Law is Errol Flynn

However, he passed on the project after directing two biopics in a row - The Insider and Ali - and instead opted for a producing role.

A host of stars have been linked with the film over the past decade. Nicole Kidman was a contender for the role of Hepburn, and Gwyneth Paltrow was originally lined up to play Gardner. Meanwhile Jim Carrey was among those considered for the role of Hughes.

Daunted

Scorsese admitted, however, he was initially daunted by the prospect of filming the life of the troubled millionaire.

"One of the reasons I never became too interested in the fascinating life story of Howard Hughes was that there are so many facets to the story, stretching over 76 years," he said.

That all changed when he read the script for The Aviator.

"I was hooked on the Hollywood edge," he said, "I was a little nervous in about it reading that it was Howard Hughes but what really took it, what really locked me in was the fact that it only took 20 years of his life, maybe the most productive."

Quirks

"Those were the 20 years in which his vision, his obsession with speed and aviator really formed in its most lasting pattern - in a way that's affected our lives today."

DiCaprio, meanwhile, prepared for his role as Hughes by reseaching his life meticulously, from watching documentary footage of him and observing his quirks, to spending time with veteran actress Jane Russell, who starred in Hughes' film The Outlaw.

"I knew of Hughes as this 'wolf man' like figure who was locked away in a hotel room in Las Vegas and wouldn't communicate with anyone except by telephone," DiCaprio said.

"I really didn't know the genesis of how he became that. More so than trying to portray an American hero or an icon, it was like a Greek tragedy. He was a man obsessed with everything, and he would not stop until he had reached his own ideals of perfection."


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