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The Characters
At the heart of Shutter Island's suspense and mounting fear is the shattering experience of Teddy Daniels, the hard-bitten war veteran and savvy U.S. Marshal who arrives at the island hospital to investigate the disappearance of a killer, only to slide deeper and deeper into an abyss of dizzying riddles, haunted memories and unrelenting fear. As his investigation runs into one obstacle after another, Teddy has reason to believe he is being manipulated, watched, perhaps drugged, and pushed to the dark, indistinct edges of his own sanity. Perhaps he is being warned away from getting at the larger truth of Shutter Island, or drawn into a horrific experiment, but there is clearly a hidden agenda tying Teddy to this impenetrable place.

To play a character so tightly wound, yet about to unravel in just a few days' time, the filmmakers had one actor in mind from the start: three-time Academy Award® nominee Leonardo DiCaprio, who has grown up on the screen to become one of today's most distinctive leading men. "When we approached Marty we instantly began thinking about Leo as well, first because he was so right for the part, but also because of his incredibly successful collaboration with Scorsese,” Fischer says.

Scorsese wholeheartedly backed the choice. "Having worked with Leo on Gangs of New York, The Aviator and The Departed, I thought immediately that he should do this,” he says. "We have a way of working together now and I had faith and trust in him as an artist to achieve the many psychological and emotional states that Teddy has to reach, and to transform throughout. Have I seen him do this before? Not to this level, I think. As he gets older, he goes deeper and deeper.”

DiCaprio was convinced as soon as he read the script. "A lot of things about this character appealed to me,” he explains. "Teddy comes to Shutter Island devoted to solving a mystery and to uncover what is really going on, but he has his own innermost agenda and secrets. He's in a situation where there's a lot more to his journey than there at first appears to be. One of the great things about the story is that it's constantly jarring you. It works on so many different levels; it's like a giant layer cake.”

He continues: "I fell in love with the complexity of Teddy, with his search for the truth, which triggers something in him, and also triggered something in me. I was profoundly moved at the end.”

He was also drawn to reuniting with Scorsese. "The one thing I don't think people understand about Scorsese is how much he believes in the actors he hires and how much he depends on them doing their homework before they show up on the set,” DiCaprio comments. "He's a master filmmaker and he knows how to navigate the human mind and portray things about the human condition, but he lets the actors really dictate what he puts up on the screen.”

Once he took on the role, DiCaprio was inspired to undertake his own personal research. He delved into the specialized training of a real 1950s U.S. Marshal, explored the experiences of World War II vets and learned about the psychiatric techniques used in mental institutions during the period. He also read and re-read Lehane's novel. "When you have someone like Dennis Lehane, who creates such rich characters, it gives you a lot of ammunition and reference points,” he says.

The core of his preparation, though, was a series of long, explorative talks with Scorsese. "Marty loves to discuss everything at great length,” notes DiCaprio, "which helps you become even more specific about who your character is and more believable on the screen. We would discuss the scenes almost like forensic detectives, going through the details with a fine-tooth comb, and that's one of the most interesting, challenging, scary and fun parts of making his movies because, by the time you're o

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