Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are in full-blown press-tour mode for Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which is why they got a cover story courtesy of Esquire. As you can see, this is a super retro special issue. Everything is retro: the clothes, the car, all the way down to Brad and Leo’s squinty “the sun’s too bright” faces. Nothing says throwback to the ’60s more than looking like you’ve chosen to stare directly into a solar eclipse without proper eye protection. But enough about that, we’re here to talk about the real star of the OUATIH set, who – in Brad and Leo’s squinty eyes – was the late great Luke Perry.
Brad, Leo, and Quentin were interviewed for a long interview by Michael Hainey. Michael brought up the fact that all three have been in Hollywood for a long time, and asked if they had any weird six-degrees style run-ins throughout their careers with anyone super famous. Brad says he got stoned with Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee) not long before Brandon died in 1993. Leo tells a story about almost meeting his then-idol River Phoenix at a party on the night River died at the Viper Room in 1993.
Then Brad said that one of the best moments in his career was when he showed up to set and saw Burt Reynolds there. Brad grew up in the Ozarks watching Smokey and the Bandit, so spending two days on set with Burt was a really big deal. Unfortunately, Burt passed away before he could start filming on OUATIH (his role was re-cast with Bruce Dern). That’s when Leo chimed in with his own big-deal Hollywood idol moment.
Luke Perry passed away after he finished filming his scenes for OUATIH, so Leo and Brad got a little more time with Luke on set. And it sounds like Leo and Brad were just a few excited mall girl squeals away from bringing their 90210 posters to set and asking Luke to sign it.
Leonardo DiCaprio: “I remember my friend Vinny, who is in the film as well, we walked in and we both had this butterfly moment of like, ‘Oh my God, that’s Luke Perry over there!'”
Brad Pitt: “‘That’s Luke fucking Perry!’ We were like kids in the candy shop because I remember going to the studios and [Beverly Hills, 90210] was going on and he was that icon of coolness for us as teenagers. It was this strange burst of excitement that I had, to be able to act with him. Man, he was so incredibly humble and amazing and absolutely committed. He couldn’t have been a more friendly, wonderful guy to spend time with. I got to sit down and have some wonderful conversations with him. It was really special.”
I just did the math, and Brad’s brain might be a little hazy from getting stoned with Brandon Lee, because Brad was not a teenager when Beverly Hills, 90210 premiered in 1990. He was 27. I’ll give him a break – standing in the presence of the coolest guy at West Bev could have anyone forgetting something as simple as their own age. Or maybe Brad just felt like he was a teenager, kind of like how Luke Perry was playing a high schooler at 24.
Leo, however, was actually a teenager (16) when Beverly Hills, 90210 debuted, so I could totally see him fangirling out over Dylan McKay. I can also picture him screaming internally when he returned home from shooting one day, telling his 21-year-old girlfriend the big, huge news that he met Dylan from 90201, and she responded: “Who’s that? Did he date Shenae Grimes or AnnaLynne McCord?”
Here’s more of Brad and Leo in Esquire:
— Esquire (@esquire) May 21, 2019