Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire are getting together again--this time not in a bar to pick up chicks.
The Hollywood A-listers have joined forces to file a lawsuit seeking to block a former colleague from releasing the 1995 film Don's Plum. Both stars appeared in the ultra-low-budget art flick as a "favor" to writer-director R.D. Robb and some acting buddies, supposedly under the condition that the film never be released in the U.S. Now, according to their joint lawsuit, one of the film's producers, John Schindler, wants to put out the film in the U.S. against both actors' wishes.
Maguire's rep, Kelly Bush, confirmed the lawsuit was filed last month but had no further comment.
For his part, Schindler rejects the notion that the big-name actors simply did the work as a favor and never intended to have the film released. "The story that Don's Plum was never intended to be made public is just that--a story, Schindler told E! Online.
"Although they first heard of the project when it was conceived of as a short, I personally explained to both Leo and Tobey and the rest of the cast and crew before the first shoot that my intention was for this to be a real commercial film," says the producer.
Maguire and DiCaprio have been through this before. They were sued in 1998 by Don's Plum coproducer David Stutman, who alleged the two schemed behind the scenes to kill the film's chances of ever making it to the multiplex.
The teen heartthrobs have long maintained that they only took on Don's Plum to help Robb and a group of actor friends get exposure on the festival circuit.
Further, DiCaprio and Maguire allege, they never intended for the film to actually see a studio release in America; the two made all those involved aware from the beginning that their participation in the project hinged on the film never being shown in a U.S. theater, according to court papers filed in 1998.
In Stutman's version of the story, Maguire's manager killed the film in America, and the producer alleges in court papers that DiCaprio "expressed great enthusiasm for the completed film" in screenings.
Round one of the saga came in 1999, when the two sides struck a deal in which Stutman agreed never to show Don's Plum in the U.S. or Canada. But the following year, the film was playing in Europe, and now copies of the flick are readily available all over the world--from Australia to Belgium--for those with PAL formatted DVD players, anyway.
Lately, however, technology has put a serious dent in the duo's legal capitulation to Stutman as bootlegs of the video have been sold on eBay, traded online and occasionally pop up on file-sharing sites.
Maguire, in particular, seems especially keen on banishing Don's Plum to Europe and other quaint places not known by ninth-grade U.S. geography students. The Spider-Man 2 star apparently improvised some personally revealing lines during a few scenes that could do harm to his carefully crafted Teen Cosmo-ready image, according to the court papers.
The 87-minute-long film in question hardly seems worth fighting over, according to several film critics. Both fans and foes of the actors agree the film is a plotless snoozefest focusing on a group of self-possessed Los Angeles twentysomethings who gather in a diner (called Don's Plum) to riff about music, relationships and sex.
But the cast of the film just gets hotter as the years go by. The movie costars Six Feet Under's Jeremy Sisto, Buffy's Amber Benson, Entourage's Kevin Connolly and Dazed and Confused's Marissa Ribisi. Another female lead in the film, Jennifer Lewis, quit acting after 1998's Pleasantville to focus on a career in music--now she is the lead singer of the seriously buzzing band Rilo Kiley.
DiCaprio and Maguire settled their dispute with Stuntman, but have yet to settle with Schindler. For his part, Schindler hopes to resolve the conflict soon. "What I am doing is trying to do is get artistic satisfaction by editing the film as it should have been edited, to recover our investments, and to see that the actors and crew finally get paid" he says.
Chances are good the film may simply remain a cult footnote--no studio that wants to work with DiCaprio or Maguire down the road would likely touch the film, especially considering the earlier legal settlement.
North American fans of both actors will have a much better chance seeing them at their local theater. DiCaprio is set to dazzle 'em this fall as Howard Hughes in The Aviator, while Maguire is shopping around for a project to do before working on Spider-Man 3, which is due out in 2007.