Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio

Actor
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Life Story

Few actors in the world have had a career quite as diverse as Leonardo DiCaprio's. DiCaprio has gone from relatively humble beginnings, as a supporting cast member of the sitcom Growing Pains (1985) and low budget horror movies, such as Critters 3 (1991), to a major teenage heartthrob in the 1990s, as the hunky lead actor in movies such as Romeo + Juliet (1996) and Titanic (1997), to then become a leading man in Hollywood blockbusters, made by internationally renowned directors such as Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan.

Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio was born November 11, 1974 in Los Angeles, California, the only child of Irmelin DiCaprio (née Indenbirken) and former comic book artist George DiCaprio. His father is of Italian and German descent, and his mother, who is German-born, is of German and Russian ancestry. His middle name, "Wilhelm", was his maternal grandfather's first name. Leonardo's father had achieved minor status as an artist and distributor of cult comic book titles, and was even depicted in several issues of American Splendor, the cult semi-autobiographical comic book series by the late 'Harvey Pekar', a friend of George's. Leonardo's performance skills became obvious to his parents early on, and after signing him up with a talent agent who wanted Leonardo to perform under the stage name "Lenny Williams", DiCaprio began appearing on a number of television commercials and educational programs.

DiCaprio began attracting the attention of producers, who cast him in small roles in a number of television series, such as Roseanne (1988) and The New Lassie (1989), but it wasn't until 1991 that DiCaprio made his film debut in Critters 3 (1991), a low-budget horror movie. While Critters 3 (1991) did little to help showcase DiCaprio's acting abilities, it did help him develop his show-reel, and attract the attention of the people behind the hit sitcom Growing Pains (1985), in which Leonardo was cast in the "Cousin Oliver" role of a young homeless boy who moves in with the Seavers. While DiCaprio's stint on Growing Pains (1985) was very short, as the sitcom was axed the year after he joined, it helped bring DiCaprio into the public's attention and, after the sitcom ended, DiCaprio began auditioning for roles in which he would get the chance to prove his acting chops.

Leonardo took up a diverse range of roles in the early 1990s, including a mentally challenged youth in What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), a young gunslinger in The Quick and the Dead (1995) and a drug addict in one of his most challenging roles to date, Jim Carroll in The Basketball Diaries (1995), a role which the late River Phoenix originally expressed interest in. While these diverse roles helped establish Leonardo's reputation as an actor, it wasn't until his role as Romeo Montague in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996) that Leonardo became a household name, a true movie star. The following year, DiCaprio starred in another movie about doomed lovers, Titanic (1997), which went on to beat all box office records held before then, as, at the time, Titanic (1997) became the highest grossing movie of all time, and cemented DiCaprio's reputation as a teen heartthrob. Following his work on Titanic (1997), DiCaprio kept a low profile for a number of years, with roles in The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) and the low-budget The Beach (2000) being some of his few notable roles during this period.

 
Family

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Trivia

(April 16, 1999) While filming The Beach (2000) off the coast of Thailand, Leonardo and others were swept off a camera boat by strong winds and waves. No one was injured.
His first publicity spot was about MILK.
In March 1998, he sued Playgirl magazine over plans to publish pictures -- including full frontal nudity -- of himself.
Ranked #75 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list. [October 1997]
Was considering starring in a movie about actor James Dean, but turned down the role because he felt he wasn't experienced enough to do the film. [1996]
Auditioned for the role of Dick Grayson/Robin in Batman Forever (1995), which went to Chris O'Donnell.
Chosen by People Magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. [1998]
Younger stepbrother of Adam Farrar.
He and his family funded a state-of-the-art computer center at the Los Feliz branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, which was rebuilt after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
A Manhattan appeals court decided to go ahead with a $45 million lawsuit against DiCaprio by actor and screenwriter Roger Wilson for allegedly encouraging his friends in a street fight with Wilson over advances DiCaprio's friends made toward Wilson's girlfriend, Elizabeth Berkley, outside the midtown Manhattan restaurant Asia de Cuba in the early hours of May 4, 1998. In 2004, the lawsuit was dismissed. Judge Paula Omansky said the lawsuit could proceed against a fourth man, Todd Healy, who admitted to hitting Wilson, though Healy claimed the move was in self-defense when he thought he saw Wilson reaching for something, possibly a weapon. In dismissing the action against DiCaprio, the jurist said Healy never heard the actor's alleged remark, and therefore could not have been incited by it. [2000]
At age 10, his agent advised him to change his name to a more American-friendly Lenny Williams. Needless to say, he did not follow that advice.

 

Personal Quotes 

The best thing about acting is that I get to lose myself in another character and actually get paid for it. It's a great outlet. As for myself, I'm not sure who I am. It seems that I change every day.
People want you to be a crazy, out-of-control teen brat. They want you miserable, just like them. They don't want heroes; what they want is to see you fall.
On working with Martin Scorsese in Gangs of New York (2002): He's a perfectionist, obsessed with detail. That's why he went over budget and over schedule.
You can either be a vain movie star, or you can try to shed some light on different aspects of the human condition.
It's a really obvious thing to say, but the more people know too much about who you really are, and it's a fundamental thing, the more the mystery is taken away from the artist, and the harder it is for people to believe that person in a particular role.
On fame: As soon as enough people give you enough compliments and you're wielding more power than you've ever had in your life, it's not that you become an arrogant little prick, or become rude to people... but you get a false sense of your own importance and what you've accomplished. You actually think you've altered the course of history.
I don't really have many extravagances. I don't fly private jets and I don't have bodyguards and I don't buy crazy things. I have a couple of houses here and there. I bought a very expensive watch, and I am going to buy a really expensive movie poster, the original for The Thief of Bagdad (1940). I love movie posters.
On turning 30: I kind of feel like the same person except more time has gone by. I hate to say that I feel like an adult now. I have to admit I wish I was still 18. After all, even through the time while I was representing that wild kid, I really wasn't. I was just living my life. I was just not making movies at the time.
On Martin Scorsese: Martin has brought so much to the art form of film, and he is not the type of person who would be upset by not receiving an Oscar, although it is a practical joke that he has not won an Academy Award after all these years. Whatever opinions critics will have of The Aviator (2004), I really think that this is a great piece of art: once again, he has made a great classic film.
The great thing about turning 30 in this business is that you get to perpetuate being young or old as long as we want.
On whether there are any aspects of fame he dislikes: You kidding? I feel very fortunate. A lot of people would love to be in my position. There are so many people out there who are suffering trillions of times more than I could ever suffer, and would love to be me. I am a lucky little bastard.

 
 
Filmography

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