Leonardo DiCaprio's unexpected attachment to Dimension Film's Librium has allowed that sci-fi project to proceed with plans to shoot certain scenes this coming Summer in the same Bucharest Parliament building that once housed the reviled Communist tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu.
According to a statement released on Monday by the Deputies Chamber board, Roumanian officials said they have reconsidered their earlier denial of a shooting permit and will now permit the cameras into the old Palace this August. The clincher, apparently, was the argument made by the producers that DiCaprio's presence in the cast would bolster local tourism.
Andrei Chiliman of the Liberal Party and vice president of the chamber, was quoted by Associated Press as saying that those who voted first against the project "suffer [from] some psychological blockages" connected with the building, a huge complex that is said to be second in floor space among government buildings only to the Pentagon. "Ceausescu wanted to remain in history and built this as a pyramid for himself, but the people have to realize that this is only a building," said Chiliman.
When Miramax made its first reported request to shoot in the Palace, two weeks ago, Roumanian legislators objected on the grounds that its international connotations with the Ceausescu regime would involve "possible image prejudices."
Miramax, which will distribute the film through Dimension, could not confirm DiCaprio's involvement in the film, even in a supporting capacity, when contacted on Monday. However, the New York studio has worked with DiCaprio before, both in Marvin's Room and Woody Allen's Celebrity, and is currently involved as the domestic financing partner in DiCaprio's next scheduled starring role in Martin Scorsese's Gangs Of New York. The fact that Scorsese's film is due to shoot this summer in Rome's Cinecitta studios might allow DiCaprio to segue from one film to the next without leaving Europe.
Librium is due to be directed by Kurt Wimmer from his own script. The futuristic thriller, which is set in the year 2070 amid an oppressive society that suppresses human emotions by requiring its citizens to take a daily dose of a drug known as Librium, is being produced by Jan De Bont and Lucas Foster's Blue Tulip Productions. To date, the only reported cast member in Librium has been Taye Diggs, whose credits include Go, The Best Man, The House On Haunted Hill,The Wood and How Stella Got Her Groove Back.
Collaborating with Miramax on the scheduled 8-10 week shoot of Librium is Romania's Castel Film Studios. The production will take in locations in both Bucharest and Castel's rural studios, situated some 35 kilometers north of Bucharest not far from the medieval monastery where Dracula's real-life inspiration, Vlad The Impaler, is entombed.