In 2015, I starred in a critically acclaimed film called The Revenant, which featured a graphic scene in which my character stripped nude and slept inside a carcass to survive deadly winter conditions. While I’d anticipated this scene would have a deep impact on the movie’s audience, I could never have anticipated the drastic consequences it would have on me: I, Leonardo DiCaprio, can sadly no longer fall asleep outside of a horse.
This is my reality now. If I am not curled up within the warm embrace of a horse carcass, there is no way I am getting any rest at all.
Since that fateful day two years ago in Alberta, Canada when I took off my fur coat, cut open a horse, and fell fast asleep inside of it for the very first time, I have no longer been able to sleep on my expensive Hollywood mattress, or anywhere else for that matter. Evidently, during that single day of filming, my body became so acclimated to the feeling of having a horse around it that when I’m no longer inside one, I am haunted by the most intense insomnia I have ever experienced.
Even today in 2017, long after we’ve wrapped production of The Revenant, I still cannot fall asleep without being inside one of those strong, beautiful beasts. Believe me, I’ve tried every trick in the book: melatonin, sleep specialists, hypnosis. Nothing works! The only cure for my insomnia is, unfortunately, sleeping inside a horse. There’s no way around it.
I famously won my first Academy Award for my role in The Revenant, yet this experience, which has given me so much, has also given me a terrible, unthinkable curse.
Literally every aspect of my lifestyle has been affected by this issue. I can’t go to movie premieres or awards shows past 5 p.m., because I have to account for the roughly six hours it takes to find, kidnap, and hollow out a horse by nightfall in the L.A. area. I can’t look at a horse or go horseback riding without immediately becoming so tired that I can barely function. Even a 20-minute nap requires me to sacrifice a miniature horse or Shetland pony for me to wedge my way into!
And yes, it has to be a real horse. No amount of horse replicas or “movie magic” is going to be able to trick Leonardo DiCaprio into rest, I can promise you that.
Look, I don’t like killing a new horse to sleep in each night any more than you do, because in my rest, I only have nightmares. I have one recurring dream where I am a young, wild stallion, standing alone in the middle of Alberta, Canada. Suddenly, though, I notice something on the horizon: It’s a man in a mask, and he’s sprinting toward me over the mountains at lightning speed, holding a machete. As he approaches, I hear him yawn, and then he lunges at me and yells the words “Time to catch some shut-eye!” And then I see who that man really is: It’s me, Leonardo DiCaprio.
I famously won my first Academy Award for my role in The Revenant, yet this experience, which has given me so much, has also given me a terrible, unthinkable curse. Was it worth it? No. I would give back my Oscar in a heartbeat if it meant just one night of resting my head on my mattress instead of a bunch of animal guts. So, to anyone who thinks the life of a Hollywood actor is a walk in the park, I would encourage you to try sleeping in a horse and see that it is, unfortunately, anything but.