MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia’s tough-guy prime minister Vladimir Putin called Hollywood heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio a real man after the actor’s plane had to make make an emergency landing on the way to a summit on tigers in Putin’s native Saint Petersburg.
Putin was reading from prepared remarks on tigers when he suddenly spotted the “Titanic” star in the crowd.
The Russian leader then revealed an uncanny knowledge of DiCaprio’s difficulties in getting to the conference and described him as a hero who made the tiger cause proud.
“I would like to thank you for coming despite all the obstacles,” Putin told DiCaprio, who also pledged one million dollars to the campaign to save tigers from extinction.
“A person with less stable nerves could have decided against coming, could have read it as a sign — that it was not worth going,” Putin said during an extended departure from his address.
The Russian prime minister said DiCaprio had “literally torn his way through to Saint Petersburg”, calling DiCaprio “a real man” (or “muzhik”) for his persistence.
Putin's comments were briefly interrupted by shouts of “Bravo!” from the audience, forcing a brief smile and acknowledgment from the film idol.