Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio (/dᵻˈkæpri.oʊ/; born November 11, 1974) is an American actor and film producer. DiCaprio began his career by appearing in television commercials, after which he had recurring roles in TV series such as the soap opera Santa Barbara and the sitcom Growing Pains in the early 1990s. He began his film career by starring as Josh in Critters 3 before starring in the film adaptation of the memoir This Boy’s Life (1993) alongside Robert De Niro. DiCaprio was praised for his supporting role in the drama What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), and gained public recognition with leading roles in the drama The Basketball Diaries (1995) and the romantic drama Romeo + Juliet (1996), before achieving international fame with James Cameron’s epic romance Titanic (1997), which became the highest-grossing film to that point.
Since the 2000s, DiCaprio has received critical acclaim for his work in a wide range of film genres. His subsequent films include The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), the biographical crime drama Catch Me If You Can (2002) and the epic historical drama Gangs of New York (2002) which also marked his first of many collaborations with director Martin Scorsese. DiCaprio was also acclaimed for his performances in the political war thriller Blood Diamond (2006), the neo-noir crime drama The Departed (2006), the espionage thriller Body of Lies (2008), the drama Revolutionary Road (2008), the psychological thriller Shutter Island (2010), the science fiction thriller Inception (2010), the biographical film J. Edgar (2011), the western Django Unchained (2012), and the period drama The Great Gatsby (2013).
DiCaprio’s portrayal of Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004) and Hugh Glass in The Revenant (2015) won him the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, and his role as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) won him the award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. He won his first BAFTA award for Best Actor for The Revenant. He has been nominated for six Academy Awards—five for acting and one for producing—and in 2016, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for The Revenant. In addition to acting, DiCaprio is the founder of his own production company, named Appian Way Productions. He is also a committed environmentalist.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 2.1 Early career
- 2.2 1991–95: Breaking into film
- 2.3 1996–2001: Mainstream success
- 2.4 2002–07
- 2.5 2008–12
- 2.6 2013–present
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Environmental activism and philanthropy
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
DiCaprio was born in Hollywood, California, the only child of Irmelin (née Indenbirken), a German-born legal secretary, and George DiCaprio, an underground comics artist and producer and distributor of comic books. DiCaprio’s father is of half Italian (from the Naples area) and half German (from Bavaria) descent. DiCaprio’s maternal grandfather, Wilhelm Indenbirken, was German. His maternal grandmother, Helene Indenbirken (1915–2008), a German citizen, was born as Yelena Smirnova in Russia. In an interview in Russia, DiCaprio referred to himself as “half Russian” and said that two of his late grandparents were Russians.
DiCaprio’s parents met while attending college and subsequently moved to Los Angeles. He was named Leonardo because his pregnant mother was looking at a Leonardo da Vinci painting in a museum in Italy when DiCaprio first kicked. His parents divorced when he was a year old, and he lived mostly with his mother. The two lived in several Los Angeles neighborhoods, such as Echo Park, and at 1874 Hillhurst Avenue, Los Feliz district (which was later converted into a local public library), while his mother worked several jobs to support them. He attended Seeds Elementary School (now UCLA Lab School) and John Marshall High School a few blocks away, after attending the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies for four years. However, he dropped out of high school following his third year, eventually earning his general equivalency diploma (GED). DiCaprio spent part of his childhood in Germany with his maternal grandparents, Wilhelm and Helene. He speaks a little German and Italian.
DiCaprio’s career began with his appearance in several commercials and educational films. After being removed from the set of children’s television series Romper Room for being disruptive at the age of five, he followed his older stepbrother Adam Farrar into television commercials, landing an ad for Matchbox cars at 14. In 1990, he got his break on television when he was cast in the short-lived series based on the movie Parenthood. After Parenthood, DiCaprio had bit parts on several shows, including The New Lassie and Roseanne, as well as a brief stint on the soap opera Santa Barbara, playing the young Mason Capwell. His involvement in Parenthood and the daily soap earned him a nomination for the Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor each.
1991–95: Breaking into film
DiCaprio’s debut film role was in the comedic sci-fi horror film Critters 3, in which he played the stepson of an evil landlord, a role that DiCaprio described as “your average, no-depth, standard kid with blond hair.” Released in 1991, the movie went direct-to-video. Soon after, he became a recurring cast member on the ABC sitcom Growing Pains, playing Luke Brower, a homeless boy who is taken in by the Seaver family. DiCaprio made his big screen breakthrough in 1992, when he was handpicked by Robert De Niro out of 400 young actors to play the lead role in This Boy’s Life.
Later in 1993, DiCaprio co-starred as the mentally handicapped brother of Johnny Depp’s character in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, a comic-tragic odyssey of a dysfunctional Iowa family. Director Lasse Hallström admitted he was initially looking for a less good-looking actor but finally settled on DiCaprio as he had emerged as “the most observant actor” among all auditionees. Budgeted at US$11 million, the film became a critical success, resulting in various accolades for DiCaprio, who was awarded the National Board of Review Award and nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his portrayal. New York Times critic Janet Maslin praised DiCaprio’s performance, writing “the film’s real show-stopping turn comes from Mr. DiCaprio, who makes Arnie’s many tics so startling and vivid that at first he is difficult to watch. The performance has a sharp, desperate intensity from beginning to end.”
DiCaprio’s first effort of 1995 was Sam Raimi’s The Quick and the Dead, a western film. Sony Pictures was dubious over DiCaprio’s casting, and as a result, co-star Sharon Stone decided to pay the actor’s salary herself. The film was released to a dismal box office performance, barely grossing US$18.5 million in the US, and received mixed reviews from critics. DiCaprio next starred in Total Eclipse, a fictionalized account of the homosexual relationship between Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine. He replaced River Phoenix, who died during pre-production on the project. A minor art-house success, the film grossed US$0.34 million throughout its domestic theatrical run.