Leonardo DiCaprio Life Story
DiCaprio was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of George DiCaprio, a half Italian-half German distributor of comic books, and Irmelin Indenbirken, a former legal secretary who was born in Germany.
His name allegedly came about because his pregnant mother was standing in front of a Leonardo da Vinci painting at a museum in Italy when he kicked, which made her decide to name him after the famous artist. His parents divorced when he was a year old. He grew up in Echo Park.
At age five, he appeared on his favorite television series, Romper Room, and was almost fired for misbehaving. He attended John Marshall High School in Los Angeles. He was rejected by an agent early in his career for having a name that sounded too foreign, suggesting that it should be changed to Lenny Williams, but DiCaprio refused.
His acting career began in 1989 when he was cast in the role of Garry Buckman on the TV version of the hit film Parenthood, where he met his best friend Tobey Maguire while working on an episode. In that same year, DiCaprio appeared on the soap opera Santa Barbara in the role of Mason Capwell (in flashbacks as a teenager). From 1991 to 1992 he had the role of Luke Brower, a homeless boy, on Growing Pains.
However, DiCaprio is most famous (and respected) for his roles in motion pictures. His debut role was as Josh in Critters 3 (1991), a film with only a limited theatrical release, soon after released on video.
Two years later, his break-through came with the role of Toby in This Boy’s Life (1993) co-starring with Robert De Niro and Ellen Barkin, which led the New York Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics to name him runner-up for Best Supporting Actor. In the same year he also convincingly portrayed a mentally handicapped boy in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993). The role earned him an Academy Award nomination.
The black-and-white movie Don’s Plum, a low-budget drama featuring the actor and some of his friends (including Tobey Maguire) was filmed between 1995 and 1996. Its release was later blocked in the United States and Canada by DiCaprio and Maguire, who argued they never intended to make it a theatrical feature. Nevertheless, it later premiered on February 9, 2001 in Berlin.
In 1996, DiCaprio also played the male lead in Romeo + Juliet, a slick and updated modern-day version of Shakespeare’s play, directed by Australian director Baz Luhrmann.
Superstardom & ‘Leo-Mania’: The move from ‘star’ to ‘superstar’ came when DiCaprio played Jack Dawson in Titanic (1997). The highest grossing movie ever (unadjusted for inflation; taking inflation into account, it is the third highest), it received eleven Academy Awards. Over the course of the next few years he would become a household name worldwide, synonymous with labels such as ‘teenage heart-throb’ and sex symbol.
With a status that spawned fantasy crushes and hysteria worldwide, E! Online described him as the most gorgeous celebrity on the planet, while his co-star Kate Winslet said she agreed with others in deeming him the “most beautiful man on Earth”.
At the peak of his celebrity in 1998, DiCaprio fronted scores of magazine covers ranging from Vanity Fair to Rolling Stone, and was once the most searched for personality in the early years of the Internet. DiCaprio agreed to play the spoof role of his real life ‘teen idol’ persona during this period, in Woody Allen’s satirical parody, Celebrity.
Perhaps overrun or overhyped by fame from what became known as ‘Leo-Mania’ the world over – from the shores of Thailand all the way to Afghanistan (where the government there banned ‘DiCaprio style’ haircuts amongst the youth) and Australia (where in Tullamarine, Victoria, a restaurant called “DiCaprio’s” was established in the late 1990s which is still there to this day), what came apropos with fame were tales in the tabloids of excesses and indulgence.
Time magazine summed up the fame superhighway and its rappings in an interview with the actor in 2000, reporting: ‘DiCaprio still thinks of himself as an edgy indie actor, not the Tiger Beat cover boy. “I have no connection with me during that whole Titanic phenomenon and what my face became around the world.”, also commenting “I’ll never reach that state of popularity again, and I don’t expect to, It’s not something I’m going to try to achieve either.”
Nonetheless, the headlines and controversy failed to let up, peaking when he starred in a project by Danny Boyle based on Alex Garland’s backpacker culture classic, The Beach that year. Because of clashes with the Thai authorities over the use of the island of Ko Phi Phi in 1999, the film garnered more bad press than expected.
It was reported that permission granted to the film company to physically alter the environment inside Phi Phi Islands National Park was illegal. In the end, the film also did not score as well as expected at the box office, losing mainstream commercial appeal due to its content. Also, fans of the original novel claimed it did not do justice to Garland’s work.
Critically acclaimed acting: In 2002, DiCaprio began a concerted shift away from his stereotypical image and moved to engage himself with critically acclaimed directors by starring in two epic movies; Catch Me If You Can (directed by Steven Spielberg), and Gangs of New York (directed by Martin Scorsese). Both films were very well received by critics. Forging a collaboration with Scorsese, DiCaprio most recently starred in the award-winning Scorsese-directed film The Aviator, portraying the eccentric Howard Hughes.
DiCaprio continues his run with Scorsese (some claim him to be Scorsese’s ‘new De Niro’) in the upcoming movie, The Departed (2006) as a tense undercover cop in the Boston mafia. He is also reported to have purchased the rights to ‘Blink,’ Malcolm Gladwell’s book on the power and validity of first impressions, in order to produce a film based on it. In April 2006, DiCaprio received a minor leg injury while filming The Blood Diamond in Mozambique. The film will be released December 15, 2006.
He was attached to star in Robert De Niro’s history-of-the-CIA film The Good Shepherd, but dropped out and was replaced by Matt Damon, his The Departed co-star.Related Information: