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SEOUL, March 7 (Yonhap) -- Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio said Thursday that he really tried to push his first truly villainous character to the extreme to tell the truth of how black slaves were mistreated in the 19th-century American South.
"It was a very difficult one to take on, but one that was very exciting to do nonetheless with the support of the other actors," DiCaprio said of his experience of playing a brutal white slave owner in the new Quentin Tarantino movie, "Django Unchained."
Co-starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson, the film is about a German bounty hunter who frees a slave in exchange for his help in tracking and killing his enemies. He then works to reunite the man with his wife, who was bought by a wealthy plantation owner.
DiCaprio said he may have been unable to act the full extent of the violent slave owner without support from the two black members of the cast, Jackson and Foxx.
"Initially, to treat other actors who I so respect in this type of manner was trying at times. If it wasn't for the support of Sam and Jamie who really made me understand that look -- the further I go with the character and the worse that I make him, the more telling the truth of atrocities of that time period and how African-Americans were mistreated in our country," he said.
"When you have that sort of support mechanism, especially when you're dealing with a film of that subject matter, it makes you try things you wouldn't try and go sort of the distance. Historically speaking, there were much worse atrocities that happened."
Asked at the news conference about his plan for the rest of the year, DiCaprio said that he will take a break from filming and focus on his environmental campaigning.
"I'm going to take a break right now and I will be focusing on a lot of different environmental movements," he said.
DiCaprio said he has recently met the prime minister of Thailand to urge the government to take measures to stop the smuggling of ivory into the country, which he said has "directly resulted in the loss of many different African elephants."
And his efforts paid off since the Thai government announced on Sunday that it will enact a law that would effectively terminate illegal trades of ivory in the country.
The action is "an amazing thing and a testament to really the power of the internet and the outreach of sort of global communities coming together for a common cause," the 38-year-old actor said.
"Django Unchained" is set to open in South Korean on March 21.
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