Both men's romantic dalliances were regular fodder for the gossip columns, although the similarity seems lost on Di Caprio, who marvels at the thought of Hughes in his Hollywood heyday."Imagine being a billionaire at that time and being that good-looking and being a movie producer and a shy and private guy and so charming," he says. Hughes's compulsions eventually fuelled his descent into madness in later years while Di Caprio has a firm control of his mild symptoms, and used them to good effect while portraying Hughes.Not yet a recognised condition when Hughes was a sufferer, it increasingly took over his life, causing him to repeat phrases over and over, continually wash his hands and break down at the sight of a spot on another man's suit."I'm able to say at some point, 'OK, you're being ridiculous, stop stepping on every gum stain you see. You don't need to walk 20 feet back and put your foot on that thing.Nothing bad is going to happen.'"I can talk myself through it, you know, whereas Howard Hughes couldn't do that and people with hard-core OCD can't."During filming I let it all go and I never listened to the other voice, so I remember my make-up artist and assistant walking me to the set and going, 'Oh, God, here he goes again."It was immense and it's made so much money, but the fact that it's reached many different cultures is astounding to me.I know that no matter what else I do, it's going to be with me and be a part of me for the rest of my life.I don't have any regrets about it because it has given me great opportunities as an actor – and it's a pretty good film, too."It was his role in Titanic that confirmed his status as Hollywood's leading heartthrob and ushered in the surreal Beatle-like fan worship that became known as Leo-mania.
"He was never able to stay with one woman because he looked on them like aeroplanes: he literally wanted to get the faster, sleeker aeroplane with the bigger turbines."Di Caprio's disorder is more likely to take the form of making him reluctant to step on cracks in the pavement or something similar, although he has little difficulty overcoming his urges.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.Rejected by a casting agent when he was 11, he tried again at 14 and landed an agent, who got him a toy commercial.Supporting roles in television series followed, but his first film role in Critters 3 gave little hint of his potential.