"It was like the real wild, wild West in the sense that there were all these cultures merging together in this lawless land," DiCaprio told Variety in a new interview about the grueling seven-month shoot in Alberta, Canada.
The 41-year-old actor even ate a slab of raw bison liver during one scene, because the faux liver constructed from jelly by the props department didn't look real enough.
"The bad part is the membrane around it," DiCaprio told the magazine. "It’s like a balloon. When you bite into it, it bursts in your mouth."
It was all in the name of art. DiCaprio explained that his actual suffering on set made for a better performance and film.
"There's been a lot said about the movie and the difficulties making it, and how meticulous (director) Alejandro (Inarritu) is with his vision. But to me, that's the s*** that should be praised," DiCaprio told Variety. "I don't want to work with somebody who isn't thinking of every possible aspect of what's up on the screen. I think there's a hunger for audiences to see something completely extreme and difficult."
Some of the on-set difficulties include filming in temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero, sitting in a makeup chair for up to five hours while 47 different prosthetics were applied to look like bloody wounds and shooting an intricate stunt sequence involving a bear attack during a torrential rainstorm.
"I got the flu quite a few times," the "Wolf of Wall Street" star revealed.
He also had to live with a long scraggly beard for much longer than he would have liked.
"I had that beard for a year and a half," the actor said. "It becomes like a spouse. You sleep with it. It was like shaving off dreads."