Brad Pitt and Leo DiCaprio were starstruck by Luke Perry on 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' set: An 'icon of coolness'

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio were starstruck by “icon of coolness” Luke Perry.

In an interview with Esquire promoting Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the pair talked about working with the late Beverly Hills, 90210 actor, who played a fictitious TV actor in the upcoming Quentin Tarantino film before his sudden death in March. While Pitt and DiCaprio are two superstars and icons themselves, they admitted they both fanboyed out over Perry.

“‘That’s Luke f***ing Perry!’” Pitt, 55, recalled thinking when he saw Perry on the set. “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.”

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio at a screening of "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21. (Photo: George Pimentel/WireImage)

Pitt called Perry, who was starring in Riverdale when he died, “incredibly humble,” “amazing” and “absolutely committed.” He said Perry “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.”

DiCaprio, 44, said he had a similar reaction.

“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!,” Leo said, likely referring to his co-star and friend Vincent Laresca.

Tarantino, who also took part in the interview, said he went to Perry’s memorial three days after he finished editing together Perry’s final scene in the film, which is about a faded TV actor (DiCaprio) and his stunt double (Pitt).

Brad Pitt said that Luke Perry, pictured here in the '90s, was that "that icon of coolness for us as teenagers." They rose to fame at the same time — the early '90s. (Photo: Peter Carrette Archive/Getty Images)

In the interview, it was pointed out that Pitt, DiCaprio and Tarantino all came of age in this industry at about the same time. Pitt’s Thelma & Louise, A River Runs Through It and Interview with the Vampire came out in ’91, ’92 and ’94 while DiCaprio appeared in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape in ’93. Tarantino, 56, released Reservoir Dogs in ’92 and Pulp Fiction in ’94.

Their rises coincided with Perry’s TV stardom. From 1990 to 2000, he played heartthrob Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills, 90210. He died March 4 at the age of 52 after suffering a massive stroke.

Pitt also talked about losing Burt Reynolds, who was supposed to appear in the film — in role of George Spahn — but died in September of a heart attack at the age of 82.

“I’ll tell you one of the greatest moments I’ve had in these however many years we’ve been at it in this town: getting to spend two days with Burt Reynolds on this film,” Pitt said.

Pitt said that “growing up in the Ozarks and watching Smokey and the Bandit, you know, he was the guy. Virile. Always had something sharp to say — funny as sh**. A great dresser. Oh, man,” he said with a laugh. “And I had never met him, so being there with him reminded me of how much I enjoyed him as a kid. And then getting to spend those days with him in rehearsal, I was really touched by him.”

The late Burt Reynolds, pictured in March 2018, was also supposed to appear in the film. After he died of a heart attack in September, he was replaced by Bruce Dern. (Photo: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank)

Tarantino said the last performance Reynolds gave “was when he came down and did a rehearsal day for that sequence, and then the script reading. And that was really amazing.”

The director said he “found out from three different people that the last thing he did just before he died was run lines with his assistant. Then he went to the bathroom, and that’s when he had his heart attack.”

Bruce Dern replaced Reynolds in the film, which opens theatrically on July 26. It screened on Tuesday at the Cannes Film Festival.

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