Jack Nicholson unexpectedly pulled a gun on Leonardo DiCaprio during The Departed
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Little acting was required from Leonardo DiCaprio when Jack Nicholson decided to spontaneously spice things up during a shocking scene in The Departed.
And how did he do it? By going off-script and pulling a gun on his co-star. You can watch the tense sequence below:
It's believed Nicholson felt that the scene wasn’t intense enough, resulting in a look of genuine surprise on DiCaprio’s face.
Director Martin Scorsese says looking back on the scene from the 2006 film still gives him chills.
The Departed tells the tale of an undercover police officer and a mole in the force, both trying to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang.
But it’s in the scene where Nicholson’s character says he smells a rat that he decided to pull out the weapon.
Speaking of the incident in the book Conversations With Scorsese by Richard Schickel, Scorsese said: “The first thing Jack did was sniff the glass and say, ‘I smell a rat’…And then he pulled a gun on him.
“He didn’t tell me he had a gun. It was great…we took a lot out, but Leo’s reaction is real-time…I still get chills…It’s so real to me.”
In the scene you can see Nicholson reaching for the weapon and turning it over in his hands.
He then points it at DiCaprio.
The surprise takes DiCaprio aback, but ever the professional, he musters on with his part.
DiCaprio recalled feeling shaken while filming the scene during press conferences at the time of the film's release.
He said: "There were a number of different scenes where I had no idea what was going to happen.
"One scene in particular, we did the scene one way, and I remember Jack speaking to Marty because he said he didn’t feel that he was intimidating enough.
"It was one of the table scenes. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life as far as being an actor is concerned.
"I remember coming into the scene one way and then I came in the next day and the prop guy told me, ‘Well, be careful he’s got a fire extinguisher, a gun, some matches, and a bottle of whiskey'."
Though some have claimed the gun Nicholson pulled on DiCaprio was a real firearm rather than a prop, this hasn't been confirmed.
One viewer commented on a TikTok post of the clip claiming the gun was real: “I'd need to see some kind of legitimate proof before believing this.
"There's no way the studio would keep a real, loaded gun on set, which means the only way this could happen is if Jack brought a gun he owned in real life and didn't tell anyone about it.
"The 'gun' may have been impromptu but there's no way it was real and loaded.”