Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo and Juliet (1996)
Twentieth Century Fox
August 12, 2016 12:09 PM EDT

Leonardo DiCaprio may be one of Hollywood’s most sought after actors now, but there was a time when the Oscar-winning The Revenant star had to prove himself before landing a role. Vanity Fair reports that when a young Leo first auditioned for Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the director didn’t even know who he was.

“When I saw Leonardo I thought, god, that’s how he should look but can he act?” he said during a recent appearance on iHeart Radio. “Then I found out he was the preeminent young actor.”

However, Luhrmann became convinced DiCaprio was right for the part when the actor flew to Australia to prove himself. “He came down to Australia and he brought all these friends and we made a whole video of the show with other actors,” Luhrmann said. “I won’t say who, it will never be seen, I realised that I couldn’t make it without him.”

Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com.

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