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The Revenant: Leonardo DiCaprio describes grueling conditions while making the film

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Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.COM.

We will not have what he’s having.

In an effort to maintain the authenticity of his 1820s fur trapper character, Leonardo DiCaprio reveals he ate real bison liver during the making of The Revenant.

“The bad part is the membrane around it,” DiCaprio tells Variety in a new interview about the brutal conditions that surrounded the making of the gritty revenge thriller. “It’s like a balloon. When you bite into it, it bursts in your mouth.”

DiCaprio, 41, explains that the grueling shooting conditions and his actual suffering on set, under the guidance of director Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman), led to a better performance and a better film. The harsh conditions included a seven-month shoot in Alberta, Canada, during a time when temperatures reached 40 below zero, long hours in the makeup chair for the application of 47 different prosthetics made to look like bloody wounds, a challenging stunt sequence involving a bloody bear attack and weather-related production delays.

“There’s been a lot said about the movie and the difficulties making it, and how meticulous Alejandro is with his vision. But to me, that’s the s— that should be praised,” DiCaprio says. “I don’t want to work with somebody who isn’t thinking of every possible aspect of what’s up on the screen. I think there’s a hunger for audiences to see something completely extreme and difficult.”

The Wolf of Wall Street star likens filming to “the real wild, wild West, in the sense that there were all these cultures merging together in this lawless land,” DiCaprio recalls. “I got the flu quite a few times.”

He also endured the growing of and living with a long scraggly beard, a relationship he compared to marriage.

“I had that beard for a year and a half,” says the actor. “It becomes like a spouse. You sleep with it. It was like shaving off dreads.”

Given the film’s awards season buzz, the risky shoot has paid off. Maybe, just maybe this is the performance that will take the four-time Oscar nominee to his first win.

The Revenant hits theaters Christmas Day.