Leonardo DiCaprio, whose latest role is in the epic The Revenant, has something in common with the 19th-century frontiersman he plays in the film – close encounters with death.

Leonardo DiCaprio Cheats Death

Perhaps DiCaprio’s most harrowing near death experience occurred when scuba diving in South Africa. While the actor was viewing sea life from the assumed safety of his cage, he had a visitor in the form of a great white shark.

“Half its body was in the cage, and it was snapping at me. I sort of fell down to the bottom [of the cage] and tried to lie flat. The great white took about five or six snaps an arm’s length away from my head,” DiCaprio told Wired. “The guys there said that has never happened in the 30 years they’d been doing it. It flipped itself back out again. I have it on video. It’s insane.”

Another close call for DiCaprio came during a flight in 2010 when he witnessed an engine blow up and one of the plane’s wings explode.


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“I was sitting there looking out at the wing, and the entire wing exploded in a fireball. I was the only one looking out at the moment this giant turbine exploded like a comet. It was crazy,” he recalled. “They shut all the engines off for a couple of minutes, so you’re just sitting there gliding with absolutely no sound, and nobody in the plane was saying anything. It was a surreal experience. They started the engines back up, and we did an emergency landing at JFK.”

Finally, there was DiCaprio’s skydiving incident. DiCaprio had taken the lead, jumping out in tandem with another skydiver as his friends watched on from the aircraft above. When it came time to release the parachute, the two hit a snag. At first it seemed as though the backup parachute wasn’t going to be much help either.

“We pulled the first chute. That was knotted up. The gentleman I was with cut it free. We did another free fall for like another 5, 10 seconds. I didn’t even think about the extra chute, so I thought we were just plummeting to our death,” DiCaprio said. “He pulled the second, and that was knotted up too. He just kept shaking it and shaking it in midair, as all my friends were, you know, what felt like half a mile above me, and I’m plummeting toward earth. [Laughs.] And he finally unravels it in midair.”

The Revenant, in which DiCaprio’s character is viciously attacked by a bear, is nominated for a Best Motion Picture Golden Globe. DiCaprio picked up a Best Actor nomination, while Alejandro González Iñárritu got a Best Director nod. DiCaprio is also nominated for a SAG Award for his performance.

The Revenant hits theaters Christmas Day.

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