For his dogged effort to make it to a "Save the Tigers" summit this week in Russia, Leonardo DiCaprio received high machismo praise from a guy who knows from such things, the country's Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin.
Following DiCaprio's harrowing two-day journey -- first a Moscow-bound plane had to return to New York on Sunday after its engine burned out, and then his Gulfstream jet almost ran out of fuel -- the 36-year-old actor arrived for the summit yesterday with a $1 million check to battle tiger extinction.
"DiCaprio didn't just come to St. Petersburg, he busted into St. Petersburg across the Front Line," Putin said. "In our country, that's what we call a real man."
Putin should know. The former KGB-er once shot a Siberian tiger with a tranquilizer gun and has been known to drive Formula One race cars at 150 mph.
Whatever one thinks of Leo's level of bravery, there's no denying he has a thing for the air. DiCaprio had his career breakthrough playing airplane-obsessed recluse Howard Hughes in the 2004 film, "The Aviator." Two years earlier he starred as a bad-check passing con disguised as a Pan Am pilot in "Catch Me If You Can."
But, at least in Putin's eyes, neither of those performances compare with this week's air adventure. Speaking of -- wonder who plays Vlad in the movie version of the summit?