Don's plum: the lost movie leonardo dicaprio doesn't want you to see



As soon as upon a time in Hollywood, two stars on the rise made a film with their buddies — then fiercely fought for many years to maintain it from seeing the sunshine of day.

These actors, now worldwide superstars, had been Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. And the flick is “Don’s Plum” — an ad-libbed, mid-1990s indie movie that’s been banned from ever being proven within the US and Canada.

“ ‘Don’s Plum’ was a group of friends saying ‘Let’s all make a movie …,’ ” one of many flick’s producers, Dale Wheatley, not too long ago advised The Put up. “In many ways, [it] was a love letter to our friends.”

Although rumors and articles have circulated about “Don’s Plum” through the years, court docket paperwork, footage of depositions from the actors, photographs and different supplies completely obtained by The Put up inform the total story of the film DiCaprio and Maguire by no means need you to see.

Shot over six days between July ‘95 and March ‘96 in “Clerks-like” black-and-white type, it tells the story of a bunch of 20-something guys who collect each Saturday night time at a Los Angeles diner the movie is called for, every with a brand new woman.

In it, DiCaprio performs impolite, standoffish Derek, whose standout strains are: “Do you girls masturbate at all? and “I’ll f–king throw a bottle at your face, you goddamn whore.” He does then throw a glass — at Amber Benson of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame — in a cringe-inducing scene meant to scare the actress away from the set.

Maguire’s character Ian, in the meantime, in a single scene — that was minimize from the ultimate model of the movie at his behest — reveals his uncommon masturbation habits.

The characters the celebrities painting are, “not necessarily who [DiCaprio and Maguire] are,” mentioned Tawd Beckman, one of many producers.

“But of course it is so free-flowing and it seems so natural, that an audience is gonna look at that, look at DiCaprio, look at Maguire and say ‘Oh that’s who they are.’ ”



It’s for that cause Wheatley, Beckman and others suspect DiCaprio and Maguire didn’t desire a US viewers to ever see their characters on the large display.

In depositions given as a part of a 1998 lawsuit — that resulted within the movie being banned within the nation — DiCaprio and Maguire mentioned it was as a result of they by no means meant for the film-school-like mission to turn into a full-length function.

Within the aftermath, DiCaprio moved on to unimaginable fame and star-studded tasks, and Maguire acquired his massive break as “Spider-Man.”

Within the “Don’s Plum” days, DiCaprio was contemporary off his Academy Award nomination for “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” In the meantime, Maguire was making an attempt to construct himself as a marketable performer in Hollywood, having simply made waves in “This Boy’s Life.”

On the time, that they had a rising fame as obnoxious, skirt-chasing occasion boys — a part of the so-called “Pussy Posse” — a moniker bestowed on the group by Nancy Jo Gross sales in her seminal 1998 New York Journal piece “Leo Prince of The City.”

“The group’s core members constitute a frat house of young men, some of whom are actually famous, like Leo …,” Gross sales wrote. “And then there are the other guys in Leo’s pack, who make up a kind of former-child-actor brigade.”

“Don’s Plum” makes a cameo within the article, with Gross sales writing that it “may provide an inadvertent glimpse behind the curtain shrouding the secret society of Leo and his friends, mostly because it was made and largely ad-libbed by Leo and his friends.”

Simply weeks into shifting to Los Angeles, wide-eyed Canada transplant Wheatley says he fell in with the Posse — together with DiCaprio, Maguire, Kevin Connolly and R.D. Robb — after an introduction from Jeremy Sisto of “Clueless” fame.

Wheatley was starstruck the second he laid eyes on DiCaprio — and had his personal aspirations of creating it massive.

“I was obsessed with success … ” Wheatley mentioned. “I didn’t come to L.A. to stare up at the Hollywood sign, I wanted to make something of myself.”

A bonus of hanging with DiCaprio’s crew was that “there wasn’t a club I couldn’t get into, there wasn’t a famous person that didn’t want to meet us,” Wheatley mentioned.

‘We believed we were making a film with our friends and foolishly didn’t take note of paperwork.’

“We were really in one of the most-watched circles in Hollywood at the time.”

Wheatley collaborated with aspiring filmmakers David Stutman and Beckman on the mission that finally grew to become “Don’s Plum.”

DiCaprio was in.

“Having that guy in your corner obviously means that the rest are probably going to follow him,” Wheatley mentioned. “That’s exactly what happened. Everybody got excited about the experiment.”

Former little one actor Robb, who appeared in 1983’s “A Christmas Story,” was tapped to direct. Later, as Gross sales would observe for NY Magazine — he was “‘expelled’ from the [Posse], according to someone still inside it, for attempting to spin the film’s straw into the Leo gold of a commercial release.” Robb didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark.

In the meantime, Stutman went to Beckman’s dad, Jerry Beckman — who helped to create the Completely happy Meal and Monopoly — for about $70,000 in funding.

When it got here to contracts — the naive first-time filmmakers went with handshake offers.

“We believed we were making a film with our friends and foolishly didn’t pay attention to paperwork,” Wheatley mentioned. “‘Don’s Plum’ was on the road to failing because of our inexperience and our lack of prep.”

To take the mission to the subsequent degree, the amateurs introduced on two skilled producers, John Schindler and Gary Lowe.

Because the group filmed within the LA diner, Wheatley mentioned he was amazed on the “improvs that were coming out.”


R.D. Robb (left) and Amy Israel of Paramount throughout The 78th Annual Academy Awards.Getty

On DiCaprio’s final day on set, “we’re outside by the car and I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude,” Wheatley mentioned.

“I just can’t believe what he has done for us. And I’m expressing that … and I give him this really big hug … ” Wheatley recalled. “And then he just says ‘just make me look good.’ God damn it. You know he’s like ‘just make me look good.’ And it was like something happened for me, in terms of like a responsibility, not to him alone.”

After his two days of filming on “Don’s Plum,” DiCaprio flew off to work on 1996’s “Marvin’s Room” with Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro.

With a further shoot, that DiCaprio wasn’t concerned in, the group had about 30 hours of precise movie and Wheatley was fired up about having accomplished what he believed was near-impossible — a function on his first attempt.

“Nobody expected that we could pull off the kind of movie that deserves a full-on theatrical release, a big festival run … ” he mentioned. “We pulled it off, and you know, we finally got there.”

Beckman added that, particularly for Robb and Stutman: “There was this idea that we’re going to make millions of dollars from this film.”

“And everybody’s going to be big, all of the careers are going to open up for us … as opposed to getting our foot in the door they were like, ‘This is our path to kick it down.’ ”

****

When DiCaprio discovered his buddies wished to show the mission right into a function, he was “immediately apprehensive,” Wheatley mentioned.

‘There was this idea that we’re going to make tens of millions of {dollars} from this movie.’

“Leo was like, ‘Guys I don’t want this to be a feature film. I can’t afford a bad feature film to go out right now. That’s just not going to work for my career,’ ” Wheatley recalled.

In response to Wheatley, DiCaprio was satisfied the movie could be a flop, however agreed to let his buddies minimize it as a function to see how it will prove.

“So when he heard that we thought we might be able to kind of feature together he was concerned, and look he had good reason to be concerned,” Wheatley mentioned.

“He’s a rising star. He’s becoming one of the great actors of our time and he can’t be having joint missteps along the way … we were empathetic to that.”

Wheatley and others concerned believed the film they minimize was a murals — on par with 1994’s “Clerks” or Concord Korine’s 1995 cult-classic “Kids.”

Jerry Meadors, who’d labored on dozens of film tasks as a advertising exec at Paramount, satisfied the group to announce that “Don’s Plum” was accomplished — in a brief, June 21, 1996 “Variety” piece written by future Deadline editor Anita Busch.

The merchandise mentioned DiCaprio and Maguire had “quietly shot an indie feature film” that additionally starred Connolly and Scott Bloom, and listed Robb as director, with Beckman and Meadors as government producers.

Although DiCaprio was “livid” over the merchandise, Wheatley and others mentioned his response to a screening of the movie in late June at LA’s MGM Plaza was radically completely different.

“Suddenly he was jumping out of his chair,” Wheatley mentioned. “He’s high fiving all of our friends … Leo had done a complete 180.”

Beckman added: “Leo was literally rolling on the floor laughing.”

Subsequent, Wheatley mentioned he organized a screening at CAA, DiCaprio’s company, on the actor’s behest. The company beloved the movie a lot, they signed Robb “on the spot,” Wheatley mentioned.

Gives started pouring in, together with from now-disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein’s Miramax, Wheatley mentioned.

However when Maguire and his agent noticed the function, they allegedly weren’t happy.

The flick was too edgy for Maguire’s picture and “he thought it would ruin his career,” Lowe mentioned.

There additionally was DiCaprio’s stellar efficiency to deal with.

“I could definitely see Maguire, as I knew him, feeling that Leo had outshined him, and that possibly being part of the motivating factor for wanting to kill this film,” Beckman mentioned.


Tobey Maguire (left) and Leonardo DiCaprio.FilmMagic

So it was a lift when DiCaprio appeared to adore the film.

“Tobey Maguire believed ‘Don’s Plum’ would just be a pile of crap, we weren’t going to succeed, Leo’s going to say ‘no’ … but that’s not what happened,” Wheatley mentioned.

“There’s no way to make it stop now unless he creates a villain … and I am the mark for that.”

Amid a chaotic blowout at Wheatley and Robb’s house, Maguire accused his so-called associates of making an attempt to reap the benefits of his and DiCaprio’s budding fame, Wheatley mentioned.

Wheatley “panicked” and revealed the Selection article had been Meadors’ thought as a solution to present DiCaprio “that at least we have a voice in the press,” he recalled.

“And holy s–t, he exploded. Tobey f–ng lost his mind.”

In a rage, Maguire yelled: “I want ‘Don’s Plum’ to burn!” Wheatley claimed.

Maguire advised DiCaprio the others had tried to pit the press in opposition to him with a view to push by means of the function movie they wished, Wheatley and others mentioned.

‘I could definitely see Maguire, as I knew him, feeling that Leo had outshined him.’

In a 1996 interview for now-defunct Detour journal, DiCaprio mentioned: “I had a friend who I did a short film with recently who slandered me … I was trying to do a favor for him. His name is R.D.Robb. It’s scandalous. It was originally a short film, and then he tried to make it into a feature. I worked one night on it … And I heard all this stuff about how he was going to pit the press against me if I didn’t go along with him and do the feature. I just did it as a favor, you know?”

Wheatley mentioned he’s begged Maguire to not say something, arguing that: “I don’t even know the first thing that would even mean to pit the press against Leo. He is my friend. You are my friend. We love you guys we made this movie together.”

“[Maguire] was one of my closest friends and I believed that … he could understand everything. [That] he could understand the fear as we struggled to get this film made,” Wheatley recalled. “But he was there to destroy the movie.”

“All of the work. It all died that day,” he mentioned. “In that moment, it was done … ”

****

Quickly after, potential offers from manufacturing firms to possibility the film fell aside.

As Gross sales reported in 1998: “The film was pulled from Sundance. Miramax is no longer interested in investing.”

At that time, “all of my relationships are completely gone, I’ve got a dead film, I can’t get anywhere … I am blacklisted,” Wheatley mentioned.

The creators, together with Stutman, Robb, Wheatley and Meadors fought again, submitting a $10 million lawsuit in LA Superior Court docket in opposition to DiCaprio and Maguire accusing them of constructing a marketing campaign to tank the film by making “potential buyers, distributors and others afraid to offend DiCaprio.”


Tobey Maguire (left) and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Nice Gatsby.Warner Bros/Everett Assortment

In response to Schindler, DiCaprio and Maguire responded by counter-suing.

In deposition tapes shared with The Put up, DiCaprio insists the movie was all the time meant to be a brief and that the defendants tried repeatedly to persuade him to conform to a full-length film that he by no means wished.

In the meantime, Maguire mentioned he felt just like the producers had been throwing away their friendships to attempt to pursue their very own success.

“They were behaving as people with an agenda, rather than my friends,” he testified.

After a prolonged back-and-forth, the events finally settled.

As a part of the settlement settlement, obtained by The Put up, the plaintiffs needed to conform to scrap some strains from the film, together with one the place DiCaprio says: “gay guys f–k like rabbits” and one the place Maguire says “You know what, I beat off and I stick my pinkie up … not in my ass … ” — after which admits he does. Nonetheless, although the events agreed to not launch the film within the US and Canada. Danish director Lars von Trier confirmed it on the 2001 Berlin Movie Competition.

A overview of the movie from the competition offers it a B+, praising DiCaprio’s efficiency, however noting: “Unfortunately, odds are you won’t be able to see it without buying the eventual video from overseas, as the court settlement with DiCaprio and Maguire prohibits any form of release in North America. Ingrates. What’s the matter, fellas — afraid people might get the right idea?”

Wheatley and Robb, sure by the settlement settlement, needed to stay tight-lipped concerning the ordeal and had been solely allowed to say that: “We are so glad that we are able to put the ‘Don’s Plum’ dispute behind us amicably and we look forward to releasing the film to the rest of the world.”

Regardless of being barred from talking concerning the particulars of the lawsuit and settlement, Wheatley has spoken publicly prior to now, together with in an open letter printed on-line and to Self-importance Truthful in 2016.

“Don’s Plum” was launched in a number of European international locations and in Japan, although nearly all of the income went to authorized charges — Wheatley says he made simply $180 from the film.

Ultimately, Wheatley gave up his goals of creating it massive in Hollywood. However he by no means forgot “Don’s Plum.”

Beckman’s father — the inventor of the Completely happy Meal — by no means did both.

‘These guys are terribly intimidating with their power and their influence.’

In 2005, he sued Stutman — who had by no means paid again his authentic mortgage — to retrieve the funding, and received the rights to the flick. Stutman declined to talk to The Put up on the report.

Wheatley, nonetheless obsessive about “Don’s Plum” determined in 2014 to add the film to a Website referred to as “freedonsplum.com.” The film stayed up on the location for 16 months, till a few month earlier than DiCaprio would win his Oscar for “The Revenant” in 2016.

His plans to get his magnum opus on the market had been foiled once more, and the Internet web page reads: “We have removed your video titled ‘Don’s Plum,’ previously available at Vimeo, in a response to a takedown notice submitted by Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA.”)

“They weren’t the Pussy Posse they were the bully posse,” Wheatley charged. “These guys are terribly intimidating with their power and their influence.”

“McGuire destroyed my life. He destroyed my career. For the last 20 years I’ve been living in the rubble of the destruction that he created … ”

A spokesperson for DiCaprio mentioned: “The events and comments described in this story are decades-old lies fabricated by Dale Wheatley in an effort to gain publicity and unlawful financial gain.”

Reps for Maguire didn’t remark.