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SCENES THAT GIVE TITANIC SUPERSTAR THE SINKING FEELING; Hollywood golden boy was in hit gay movie.

TITANIC heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio once appeared naked in a film that has become a cult hit with the gay community.

Three years before hitting mega-stardom in the most expensive movie of all time, DiCaprio played a bi-sexual poet in a low-budget art house film.

DiCaprio, who is tipped for Oscar glory along with his Titanic co-star Kate Winslet, romped naked with British actor David Thewlis in the film Total Eclipse.

And since DiCaprio hit the big time, the sex sizzler has become the No 1 movie with gays in Los Angeles.

Total Eclipse was briefly out on video before all copies were withdrawn. But pirate copies are still available on the underground network.

DiCaprio, who was a fresh-faced 20-year-old when he made the film, said at the time: "This was one of the most important roles of my career. It changed me. I learned not to worry about what other people thought."

The screenplay of the movie - which was based on the lives of two of France's greatest 19th Century poets - was written by British scriptwriter Christopher Hampton, who also wrote the screenplay for the film Dangerous Liaisons.

DiCaprio plays the role of Arthur Rimbaud, who falls in love with a balding bard old enough to be his father.

David Thewlis, who starred alongside Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect III, played his lover Paul Verlaine.

Explicit scenes showed the two men kissing and lying naked in each other's arms.

The young star explained shortly after the movie was first released: "As the wild, young Rimbaud I am a poet whose life and work was fuelled by an insatiable hunger for intense experience unbounded by rules or consequences."

Yesterday a showbiz friend said: "Well he's certainly got a different attitude now about Monsieur Rimbaud.

"He wishes he'd never heard of him. Leo's grown up and matured as an actor a great deal since Total Eclipse. He'd run a mile if the part was offered him today."

The career of Hollywood's hottest young talent is riding a tidal wave of success as star-crossed lover Jack, who falls for Kate Winslet's character Rose aboard the doomed Titanic.

James Cameron's film, which cost more than $200 million to make, is set to be a box office smash.

DiCaprio's love life is equally buoyant. Friends say the Romeo And Juliet star has just moved in with his stunning supermodel girlfriend Amber Valletta.
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Author:Bond, Peter
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jan 18, 1998
Words:397
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