The life and times of Leonardo DiCaprio
16-Year-Old Leonardo DiCaprio FIRST Interview!
Leonardo DiCaprio: ‘The Master of the Freak-Out’
DiCaprio attended the John Marshall High School and the Centre for Enriched Studies but was, by his own admission, never destined for a career in academia (he is, however, fluent in German -DiCaprio spent a part of his childhood there with his maternal grandparents).
When he was 14 he signed to an agency and popped-up in a Matchbox cars commercial before landing acting roles in a few short-lived TV shows, most notably ‘Parenthood’ where he met Tobey Maguire and nominated for the ‘Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor.’
DiCaprio made his movie debut in 1991 with direct-to-video horror ‘Critters 3’ which indirectly led to a regular role in TV’s ‘Growing Pains’. Stardom beckoned when he was picked by Robert de Niro to play the lead in ‘This Boy’s Life’ (1993).
In the same year DiCaprio teamed up with Johnny Depp to play a teenager with learning difficulties in ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?’ The film was a huge success and earned DiCaprio an Academy Award nomination.1995’s ‘The Quick and the Dead’ wasn’t met with such favour, DiCaprio was a controversial choice from the off as Sony weren’t convinced by his suitability for the role so co-star Sharon Stone paid the young actor out of her own pocket.
In the same year DiCaprio starred in the relatively successful ‘Total Eclipse’ playing poet Arthur Rimbaud opposite David Thewlis’ Paul Verlaine. A fictionalised, at times, graphic account of their homosexual relationship DiCaprio was lucky to get the part having been brought in to replace River Phoenix who’d died during pre-production.
Also in 1995 was Jim Carroll biopic ‘The Basketball Diaries’ and ‘Don’s Plum’ which wasn’t released until 2001 after DiCaprio and co-star Toby Maguire attempted to get the film blocked by court order. Also starring Kevin Connolly, ‘Don’s Plum’ is a largely improvised movie that, DiCaprio and Maguire claim, was a project for/by an aspiring film director and not intended for theatrical release. Ironically, its DiCaprio’s most critically acclaimed effort of that year.
DiCaprio was now a bonafide star.
In 1998 he had a cameo role in Woody Allen’s ‘Celebrity’ (1998) and starred in ‘The Man with the Iron Mask’ that, despite negative criticism, was a box-office success. In 2000 he took the lead in ‘The Beach’, another critical flop but enormously successful at theatres worldwide.
In 2002, a change of fortune. DiCaprio starred in two critically acclaimed movies, Stephen Spielberg’s ‘Catch me if you Can’ (co-starring Tom Hanks, Martin Sheen and Christopher Walken) is based on the life of a confidence trickster who made a fortune in the 1960’s and Martin Scorsese’s ‘Gangs of New York’, a historically based feature set in NYC in the mid 1800’s. DiCaprio went on to work with Scorsese again in 2004 with the critically acclaimed ‘The Aviator’ and won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination for his troubles.
DiCaprio’s third collaboration with Martin Scorsese was 2006 thriller, ‘The Departed’ with Matt Damon. The movie became one of the most acclaimed of the year but it was ‘Blood Diamond’ that earned DiCaprio his third Academy Award nomination playing a diamond smuggler opposite co-stars Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou.
Ridley Scott’s ‘Body of Lies’ (2008) visually aped the style and flavour of 1970s political films but received mixed reviews. In the same year he teamed up again with Kate Winslet in ‘Revolutionary Road’, directed by Winslet’s then husband Sam Mendes. The film is set in the 1950s and tells the story of a couple as their marriage collapses earning DiCaprio another Golden Globe nomination.
Scorsese and DiCaprio collaborated a third time for the hugely successful ‘Shutter Island’ in 2010 in which DiCaprio plays an unstable US Marshal investigating a psychiatric facility. The same year he played Dom Codd in Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller ‘Inception’ and, again, the movie was received favourably by critics and public alike.
In 2013 he worked again with Baz Lurhrmann for a big-screen adaptation of ‘The Great Gatsby’. As with ‘J Hoover’, the film had mixed reviews while DiCaprio was given the thumbs up by critics. That year he also starred in another Scorsese picture, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, based on the life of a stockbroker who was arrested in the late 1990’s for fraud. Another Golden Globe to add to his collection, a fourth Academy Award nomination and with other projects in the pipeline, it seems we’ve not heard the last of Leonardo DiCaprio just yet.
In addition to random acts of philanthropy, DiCaprio is a committed environmentalist and has been nominated for awards in his efforts to raise awareness of man’s impact on the planet. In January 2013 he announced he was going to take break from acting and ‘fly around the world doing good for the environment.’