Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio admitted that he would love to play Russia's strongman president Vladimir Putin. "Putin would be very, very, very interesting, I would love to play him," DiCaprio told Germany's Welt am Sonntag.

The 41-year-old recalled meeting Putin, then Russia's prime minister, in 2010 at a conference on protecting the endangered Siberian tiger. "My foundation has provided financial support for several projects for the protection of these big cats. Putin and I talked only about the protection of these magnificent animals, not politics", said DiCaprio.

At the St Petersburg summit, Putin praised DiCaprio as a "real man", after the actor persisted in reaching the summit despite one plane having to turn back because of engine failure, and another making an unscheduled stop in Helsinki because of strong headwinds.

"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. Putin said that, in Russia, DiCaprio's persistence made him a "muzhik" or "real man".

DiCaprio told Putin that he considered himself "half-Russian", as two of his grandparents were Russian. In the interview, DiCaprio expressed an interest in playing other figures from Russian history. "Lenin, too, would be an interesting film role. I would to play Rasputin too. I believe that there should be more movies about Russian history."

"Russia unites so many stories almost of Shakespearean character. For an actor, it's extremely exciting," he said.

DiCaprio has just been nominated for a best actor Oscar for the fifth time for his starring role in western Revenant.