An interview with Chris Hickson, Leonardo Dicaprio’s body double in ‘The Revenant’

On January 15th, 2016 was released The Revenant, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. Established in the 1820s, this movie relates the journey of trapper Hugh Glass, being attacked by a bear and left for dead by his hunting partners. As he happened to have survived, he chased the men who betrayed him. This is the story of a man who fought his way back to civilisation.

In such movies, actors have to go through hours of make up but they are not the only ones. Those worldwide renowned actors have body doubles, such as Woolwich born Chris Hickson, who doubled DiCaprio in The Revenant.

After his agency contacted him to make some pick up shots on The Wolf of Wall Street, Hickson met in London with Welsh make-up artist Sian Grigg. Among over a hundred other applicants gathered in Pinewood Studios, Grigg saw a big resemblance between him and Dicaprio. A couple years later, Grigg called Hickson to be a model for prosthetics as she was working with prosthetics expert Duncan Jarman to build visuals for Iñárritu to know what they would need to do. Iñárritu saw the resemblance and asked Hickson to join the team in Canada for nine months and be Dicaprio’s body double in the movie. Grigg has been Dicaprio’s make up artist since Titanic and is up for the Oscar of Best make-up artist for The Revenant, in February.

Chris Hickson on the set of The Revenant. Pic: Chris Hickson

“In about mid-2014, I was acting as a model, sitting down for many hours on end and Sian applied those prosthetics. It was fascinating because you really don’t know how much effort at work people put into those little details which are actually quite vast.”, said Hickson.

“For some reason, for my young age, people saw the resemblance more than I did. It’s an interesting story, how it all sort of unfolded. It’s kind of a destiny dream kind of thing”, he added.

As a body double, Hickson was called on set to capture the wide angles, the wide shots and also some shots of his body, his hands and partial close ups from certain angles. Inarritu directed him and helped him in catching Dicaprio’s body language.

Hickson said: “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I went up there quite frankly.”

The question I really wanted to ask him was about the first time he met Dicaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street. He told me: “When I first met Leo, I was lying on the ground for about two hours as we rehearsed and I looked up and saw someone that looked like Leo and it was him. He helped me up off the ground, he picked me up. He is very professional and appreciating. Their was an absolute team effort.”

The movie already won three Golden Globes award and is up for the Oscars with 12 nominations.

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