Leonardo DiCaprio's Dad George Stars in 'Licorice Pizza' : Director Explains How He 'Tracked Him Down'

Director Paul Thomas Anderson said it was "like a bolt of lightning" when he realized Leonardo DiCaprio's father George would be perfect for the role he created

George DiCaprio, Leonardo DiCaprio
Photo: Chesnot/Getty

Leonardo DiCaprio's father landed a role in a movie his actor son isn't even starring in.

Paul Thomas Anderson opened up to The New York Times about his new film Licorice Pizza, a coming-of-age movie that features Philip Seymour Hoffman's son Cooper Hoffman, Haim's Alana Haim, Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn, Benny Safdie, Tom Waits and Anderson's wife, Saturday Night Live alum Maya Rudolph.

Journalist Kyle Buchanan revealed interview moments on Twitter that didn't make the article, including Anderson, 51, explaining how DiCaprio's dad George's cameo in the film as a quirky waterbed salesman came to be.

"I created a picture of a guy who owned a wig shop that sold these waterbeds, and I couldn't put my finger on it. I kept saying, 'Who do I know that looks like this?' " recalled the writer/director, who is known for There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights and more. "And like a bolt of lightning, I remember, like, 'Leo's dad looks exactly like this' "

"So I tracked him down, asked him if he'd ever be interested in being in a film. He said, 'Sure.' I explained the scenario to him. He said, 'Sounds great. Did Leo tell you that I owned a waterbed company?' It was called Foggy Bottom.' It was one of those things. I said, 'Well, you're the right man for this job."

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DiCaprio, 47, often brings one of his parents, dad George or mom Irmelin, as his date to awards shows. George has been instrumental in his son's Hollywood career. The actor previously recalled at the SAG Foundation Awards that it was George who introduced him to Robert De Niro's films.

"Son, watch closely because this is what great acting looks like," his dad would say to him.

"My dad always told me, 'Go out there, son, and whatever you do, I don't care if you're successful or not, just have an interesting life,' " DiCaprio once told Parade. The actor also told GQ in 2011, "My father has always been a huge force with me."

George also exposed his son to counterculture concerts, which they would attend throughout DiCaprio's childhood.

"The earliest memory I have is me at some hippie concert with my dad and the band hadn't come on," he once told Rolling Stone. "There was an audience of hundreds of people chanting for the band, and my dad scooted me on stage — I don't know how old I was, probably 3 or so — and I got up there and tap-danced for hundreds of people."

Licorice Pizza is now playing in select theaters.

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