Their characters are very much alike, however DiCaprio and Damon had to arrive at how to play them without the benefit of sharing much screen time.
"I think the working experience was interesting because it was almost like we were shooting two entirely different films," said DiCaprio. "Of course they intersected at moments, but they were two different films and they were entirely completely different experiences. It was interesting to intersect the different pieces and Marty [Scorsese] was the segue for that. ‘What was Matt doing in that scene and how does that affect me here?’ ‘Well, let's rewrite the entire scene then, okay?’ But the moments that I did have with him... He's an unbelievable actor, he really is. I enjoyed them."
Matt Damon wanted to be part of "The Departed," Martin Scorsese's latest gangster thriller, for one simple reason: the chance to work with Scorsese.
Damon can still remember his excitement when his pal Brad Pitt tipped him off that Scorsese was directing a contemporary gangster flick for the first time since 1995's "Casino."
"It was like the dream of all dreams," says Damon, who turns 36 Oct. 8. "After Marty agreed to meet me, I didn't even try to be cool about it. I was like, 'I'm in.' It was a very easy yes for me."
Damon, whose mother worked in the Boston prison system, agrees with Scorsese's assessment. "As violent as this film is, none of that violence is gratuitous," says Damon. "All of the characters pay a price for the violence they inflict on each other -- and that's a good message to send out to people, as far as I'm concerned. There's a price to be paid for this kind of brutality."
It was a bit trippy for Scorsese to do a film set partially in the world of cops.
"I certainly felt comfortable in the street crime scenes with the guys," he says. "I do admit that during the police scenes, I did feel a little uncomfortable at first. But it was all in the script, and Matt Damon helped out a lot because he knew a lot of policemen.
"But I did get a little nervous like I was guilty for something," he says, laughing. "I thought, 'They're gonna take me in!'"