Leonardo DiCaprio biography
Born on November 11, 1974, in Los Angeles, California, Leonardo DiCaprio is an American actor known for his good looks and edgy, unconventional roles. DiCaprio started out in television in the early 1990s. This Boy's Life (1993) with Robert De Niro was his first major film role. In 1997, DiCaprio starred James Cameron's epic drama Titanic, which made him a huge star. He has worked with such film greats as Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood. Some of his most recent films include Inception (2011) and Django Unchained (2012).
Born on November 11, 1974, in Los Angeles, California, Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio is the only child of Irmelin and George DiCaprio. His parents divorced when he was still a toddler. DiCaprio was mostly raised by his mother, a legal secretary born in Germany.
Despite his parents' early divorce, Leonardo DiCaprio remained close to his father, a comic book artist and distributor. With his parents urging Leonardo explored his creative side. He developed an interest in acting early on. "I loved imitating people ... I loved joking around with my parents and creating different characters. I liked doing my own little homemade skits," DiCaprio told Back Stage. But he didn't have much success in Hollywood until he reached his early teens.
From Television to Film
For years, DiCaprio had trouble landing an agent. One agent event recommended DiCaprio change his name to Lenny Williams to improve his appeal. By the early 1990s, however, DiCaprio began landing regular television work. His early credits included guest appearances on such programs as The New Lassie and Roseanne. He landed a role on the dramatic comedy Parenthood. While the show proved to short lived, DiCaprio reportedly met fellow actor Tobey Maguire while making the series. The two have remained good friends ever since.
In 1991, DiCaprio took a leap forward when he was cast as a semi-regular on the family comedy Growing Pains with Kirk Cameron and Alan Thicke. He made his film debut in the low-budget horror flick Critters 3 that same year. But DiCaprio really first demonstrated his talents as a serious actor two years later. Proving to the critics that he was more than a just good-looking teenager, DiCaprio starred opposite Robert De Niro in This Boy's Life. The film delved into the difficult relationship between a young boy and his abusive stepfather in this adaptation of Tobias Wolff's memoir. DiCaprio impressed critics, holding his own on screen up against acting heavyweight De Niro.
DiCaprio turned heads again with his performance in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993) with Johnny Depp. His portrayal of a child with mental disabilities earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. The accolades he received from this film solidified DiCaprio's reputation as a gifted actor.
After receiving his first Academy Award nomination, DiCaprio continued to pursue interesting and diverse film projects. He starred in the 1995 coming-of-age drama The Basketball Diaries and worked with Russell Crowe, Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman on the western The Quick and the Dead that same year.
In Baz Luhrmann's modern retelling of Shakespeare's most famous tragic love story, Romeo + Juliet (1996), DiCaprio played Romeo to Claire Danes's Juliet.
It was another tragic love story that helped propel DiCaprio's career to a new level in 1997. He s He co-starred with Kate Winslet in James Cameron's Titanic about the sinking of the legendary ocean liner Titanic in 1912. In the film, he plays Jack, a poor artist who falls for the rich and beautiful Rose (Winslet) on board. The couple faces danger not only from Rose's fiancé (Billy Zane), but the ship itself after it strikes an iceberg. Capture the splendor of the legendary ship and its brutal demise, the film's production budget topped more than $200 million.
Titanic became both a critical and commercial smash hit. It snapped up 14 Academy Award nominations and took home such distinctive honors as best picture and best director. Audiences flocked to the theaters to see this cinematic epic, driving the film to new box office records. Titanic earned more than $600 million in its initial domestic release, according to boxofficemojo.com.
The success of the film also showed that DiCaprio could handle traditional Hollywood leading man roles. He quickly became a world-famous celebrity with a growing following of admirers. His charm and youthful good looks helped him make People magazine's list of "50 Most Beautiful People"—in 1997 and 1998.
International Film Star
After Titanic, DiCaprio had a bit of a career slump. Both The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) and The Beach (2000) proved to be disappointments both financially and artistically. But DiCaprio soon bounced back. He demonstrated his range as an actor in two noteworthy films Catch Me if You Can and Gangs of New York. In Catch Me if You Can, DiCaprio plays a young con man who excels at forgery and impersonation. The historical drama Gangs of New York served as the first of many projects that DiCaprio would work on with famed director Martin Scorsese.
In The Aviator (2004), DiCaprio took on the challenge of playing one of America's most famous businessmen. He received another Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of the eccentric and later reclusive Howard Hughes. DiCaprio continued to impress critics and audiences alike with his daring roles. In 2006 he starred in a pair of well-received films Blood Diamond and The Departed. DiCaprio earned his third Academy Award nomination for Blood Diamond, a dramatic thriller about the pursuit of a precious gem in war-torn Sierra Leone. For the compelling Martin Scorsese-directed crime saga The Departed, he co-starred with Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson.
In 2008 DiCaprio reunited with Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road, a tense film about a 1950s suburban couple that struggles to weather a myriad of personal problems. He explored a fantastical future in Christopher Nolan's Inception (2010) where technology allows people to invade the dreams of others. That same year, DiCaprio starred in Martin Scorsese's thriller Shutter Island.
DiCaprio took on another famous figure in the 2011 biographical drama J. Edgar. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film explores the life of J. Edgar Hoover who ran the FBI for nearly five decades. To prepare for the role, DiCaprio conducted extensive research. He visited many of Hoover's haunts in Washington, D.C. "I do love playing historical figures simply because there's so much incredibly diverse interesting information about a character when you can research their life. A lot of the stuff you'd never be able to make up as a writer," he explained to Back Stage.
These days DiCaprio continues to seek out work with top-notch directors and to tackle interesting story lines. In 2012, he appeared as a slave owner in Quentin Taratino's western Django Unchained, also starring Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington and Christoph Waltz. DiCaprio also reteamed with Baz Luhrmann to play one of literature's most intriguing characters, Jay Gatsby. He stars in the adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic The Great Gatsby along with Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire.
During much of his career, DiCaprio has found himself in the media spotlight for his personal life. His on-again off-again relationship with supermodel Gisele Bundchen was fodder for celebrity magazines and Web sites from 2000 to 2005. DiCaprio then dated model Bar Refaeli for several years. In 2011, he was briefly linked to actress Blake Lively.
Off-screen and away from the attention of the paparazzi, DiCaprio has demonstrated his passion for environmental issues. In 2000 he hosted an Earth Day celebration as well interviewed President Bill Clinton for a television segment about global warming. He's also served on the boards of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Global Green USA. In 2007 a documentary about the environment, which DiCaprio wrote and narrated, debuted. In addition, the actor is one of the founders of The Leonardo DiCaprio Fund at California Community Foundation, a non-profit that supports environmental causes.