BEVERLY HILLS, California — We've all been there: It's reunion time, and everybody is nervously eyeballing one another to see who's aged poorly, whose career is in the toilet and whether the old chemistry is still there. Luckily, Leonardo DiCaprioLeonardo DiCaprio and Russell CroweRussell Crowe found their reunion to be more pleasant than most — and they didn't even need to spike the punch.
"Yeah, it was 1994," Crowe remembered of the first time they worked together, on the flawed-but-underrated Sam Raimi western "The Quick and the Dead.""The Quick and the Dead."
"I think he's remained the same kind of guy that he was back then," DiCaprio said of Crowe, who was similarly in the early stages of his career (neither was an above-the-title star in the flick, with both taking a backseat to Gene Hackman and the then-red-hot Sharon StoneSharon Stone). "I mean, back then, he was just sort of starting out. He did 'Romper Stomper,' and he was a great new talent that exploded on to the scene."
It was Crowe's first American film, and he was still a good three years from breaking out with his intense-yet-tender "L.A. Confidential""L.A. Confidential" performance; DiCaprio would explode with "Titanic""Titanic" that same year.
"He's taller," Crowe said with a grin, looking his co-star up and down as they reunited recently for interviews about their second collaboration, the new Ridley Scott spy film "Body of Lies.""Body of Lies." "[DiCaprio] has matured considerably in terms of his intellectual outlook and what he understands about the world. And that's wonderful — that's reflective in his work. He always was a wonderfully instinctive performer, as his work as a young man attests. But it's been great for me, because you have that connection to someone that you worked with, and when you see them flare and mature and handle great commercial success and not let it destroy them, and then come up with the performances given in the past few years like 'The Departed''The Departed' and 'Blood Diamond''Blood Diamond' and in this — it's been great."
Back then, Leo was a 17-year-old kid best known for an Oscar-nominated supporting role in the Johnny DeppJohnny Depp film "What's Eating Gilbert Grape." But since their "Quick and the Dead" team-up, the two have yielded nearly a dozen now-classic films and hundreds of millions at the box office.
"We had a friendship back then, which was almost about the environment we were in," Crowe recalled of the "Dead" set, whose Stone-related tensions became a media sensation at the time. "Everybody else had so much of an agenda going on that we just sort of became mates, because we weren't part of that. And so, to get back on [the 'Lies'] set after 15 years and know within two minutes that all of that stuff we had as friends is still available? It was great."
Finally, the two were reunited not as the bit players they once were, but as heavy-duty leading men in a ripped-from-the-headlines drama. Based on an acclaimed 2007 novel, "Lies" casts Crowe as a surly CIA pencil-pusher and DiCaprio as his man in the field who teams up with him on a plan that could make an underground terrorist stick his head up just long enough to be put out of commission.
"There are so many, now that I think about it," Crowe laughed when asked whether there were similarities between being a spy and an actor. "That was Eddie Murphy'sEddie Murphy's thing, right? 'I get paid to bullsh--.' "
"We're becoming other people and trying to play other characters every time we walk up onto set," DiCaprio said of the similarities. "But we have no idea the kind of focus and attention and guts it takes to do the kind of jobs these guys do."
"And on the set, I just try and hide from them all the time," Crowe added with a grin. "If I hide from them, I think, 'He's gonna have to try and find me now. I'm being a superspy!' "
Now that they're both grown-ups, however, the duo were able to have a lot more fun together between takes.
"[We have] a shared sense of humor, and that's basically what we do. We try and make each other laugh," Crowe said of the friendship both hope to maintain for years to come.
"We talked about the rip-roarin' times that we were gonna have in Morocco," DiCaprio remembered of their "Body of Lies" conversations between takes. "Because that place is crazy!"
"Get jiggy with it, baby!" Crowe added with a smile.
" 'Get jiggy with it'? That was, like, the late '90s, buddy!" DiCaprio teased his friend. "Come on!"
"I'm old," Crowe added with a grin and a sigh.
Check out everything we've got on "Body of Lies."
For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.