Let’s focus on time. Mid-90s. Casting rooms are packed with young actors looking for their big break in the Hollywood industry. But there is one name that always stands out: Leonardo Dicaprio. With less than 20 years old, he was earning the position of young promise and fashionable boy through films like life of this boy (1993), Who does Gilbert Grape love? (1993) and A rebels’ Diary (nineteen ninety five). While the ultimate stardom awaited him with open arms. Romeo and Juliet (nineteen ninety six) Y titanica (1997) they were at their destination, practically around the corner.
In those castings he met great friends. Boys like him who wanted to be actors and, incidentally, bring income to their homes. One of them was Tobey Maguire, who instead of resenting Leo for continually taking papers away from him, ended up becoming his inseparable friend. And while the future Spider-Man was content to be his shadow in projects like fatherhood (where had a guest role) and life of this boy (he played his friend), he also began to look for a life in the type of movies where his friend would never participate and thus, try his luck in casting where he did not have such competition. That’s how it came to be the ice storm (1997) or Presantville (1998). This gang was joined by other figures such as Lukas Haas, David Blaine, Ethan Suplee and Kevin Connolly, forming a group of potential stars at the age of runaway hormones. His sprees reached the ears of the press of the era, with anecdotes ranging from sneaking into Victoria’s Secret events, to spontaneous trips to Las Vegas, throwing stink bombs in trendy bars and his love conquests (Complex). The press dubbed them the ‘Pussy Posse’, something like ‘the vagina gang’.
It was around this time that Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire did their second project together after life of this boy (then there would be a third, The Great Gatsby in 2013). It was a black and white story, with mostly improvised dialogue, entitled Don’s Plum. It was directed by fellow actor RD Robb with production by David Stutman and Dale Wheatley. It was shot between 1995 and 1996, just in that transition stage that both were experiencing, shortly before going from young promises to definitive stars. What’s more, some reports say that they would have charged about $575 a day. And DiCaprio only participated in a single day.
But don’t be surprised that the title doesn’t sound familiar to you, nor do you wonder under what stone you were living so as not to find out about such an appetizing premiere (that’s why it’s such a popular duo). Nor do you make an effort to look for it on Netflix or on any platform. Why? Because it is almost impossible to find it other than a copy that, I don’t really know why, is available at Youtube. And this is precisely because Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire wanted it that way.
Two years after completing the project, producer David Stutman filed a lawsuit against both actors, claiming that they had carried out “a fraudulent and coercive campaign to prevent the release of the film” because Maguire feared that the improvisation of his performance “reveal personal experiences or tendencies” (via Guardian). For their part, the pair of friends claimed that they had been presented with the project as a short film, but when they wanted to release it, it had been edited as a feature film with them as protagonists (when the story revolved around a group of friends). . DiCaprio and Maguire opposed its release and ended up reaching an agreement in 1998 – when DiCaprio was already the new prince of Hollywood thanks to titanica-: Stutman was allowed to release the film but only outside the US and Canada. That is, away from the eyes of the industry that gave them work.
GUIDE | The steps you have to follow to be able to watch a YouTube video that is not available due to your privacy preferences
It ended up premiering in 2001 in the city of Berlin, where it passed without making much noise and with mixed reviews.. Time passed but producer Dale Wheatley did not give up, trying again in 2014 when he published a letter dedicated to DiCaprio on a website called freedonsplum.com (free Don’s Plum) where he gave his version of the matter. According to his explanation, there was interest in the independent film circuit for the film, having received offers from Miramax for a million dollars and from Tri-Mark for 1.5 million, and he blamed Tobey Maguire for manipulating DiCaprio to avoid the premiere. What’s more, he uploaded the entire movie for free, but had to take it down two years later when DiCaprio and Maguire returned to the fray with a claim of copyright infringement so that no one in the online world could see it (at least that is what DiCaprio’s own website reflects). Vimeo citing them by name and surname).
“This letter is much more than a movie. It’s about bullying, censorship and abuse of power” the producer dedicated to DiCaprio in his open letter. “You and Tobey Maguire spit in the face of independent film and the community that helped get you to where you are today. You are not bigger than art, Leo. You are not bigger than the movies you act in.” He wrote that it was “a senseless oppression” because “As the world celebrates his great achievements in film, he [Leonardo] he chooses to use an iron fist to suppress the work of many artists, including himself, on a film made 20 years ago.” According to their version, they had told the entire team after the first day of shooting that they thought they had enough material for a feature film. But that DiCaprio had already left the set.
Don’s Plum It is a film that reflects exactly those ‘Pussy Posse’ to the natural, showing a group of friends -including Leo, Tobey, Kevin Connolly and Scott Bloom- gathered in a coffee shop talking about life during a night. The story begins with the protagonists trying to get girls to take to a meeting with friends, leading to all kinds of tricks or hormonal seduction games. And then they are in that place, talking about masturbation and acting with the immaturity of the age they reflect, giving free rein to banal and insignificant talk that does nothing more than show the age of the characters.
Looking at it today we can see that it is a work that has not aged as well as others because it has uncomfortable socio-cultural references, but it did manage to astonish the most ridiculous immaturity of the age where DiCaprio stole all the limelight with a natural playfulness that crosses the screen. It’s seeing it and understanding why he became a star soon after.
And if we take into account the explanation given by the producer, citing Maguire’s alleged discomfort at the exposure of his personality in improvisation, I can say that precisely because of this, because it is improvised, the film manages to elevate that hormonal daily life that it tries to capture on camera, even though after a few minutes it starts to feel like a tedious and trivial experience. Do I think he would have made a dent in their careers if he had been released? Personally I think not but, perhaps, it would have opened a media chapter that did not favor them by openly exposing the image of party boys, giving life and shape to those rumors that were already circulating about the ‘Pussy Posse’.
In the end, the anecdote tells us about the power that Tobey and Leonardo came to have overnight, going from young actors competing in the same castings to managing to stop a premiere. If we analyze the matter we can deduce that they were spared the possible mixed reviews at a time when they were growing as commercial stars, although Don’s Plum it had something special, an air between natural and naked of privileged youth without adult burdens, where the two of them stood out on screen. By not being released, they possibly saved it from leaving any trace, good or bad, in full commercial growth.
In the end, DiCaprio and Maguire managed to make the film go unnoticed without ever being released in the United States. And accordingly, now it can only be found in the mentioned portal. And I’m telling you… I don’t know if they have noticed yet.