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Leonardo DiCaprio

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Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival in May 2019
Born
Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio

(1974-11-11) November 11, 1974 (age 44)
Occupation
  • Actor
  • film producer
  • environmentalist
Years active1989–present
Works
Filmography
Parent(s)
AwardsList
Website

Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio (/dɪˈkæpri/, Italian: [diˈkaːprjo]; born November 11, 1974) is an American actor, film producer, and environmentalist. He is known for starring in biopics and period films, and for playing unconventional roles. His films have earned $7.2 billion worldwide, and he was one of the world's highest-paid actors for eight years. His accolades include an Academy Award and three Golden Globe Awards.

Born in Los Angeles, DiCaprio began his career by appearing in television commercials in the late 1980s. In the early 1990s, he played recurring roles in various television series, such as the soap opera Parenthood. He had his first major film role in This Boy's Life, and received acclaim for the supporting role of a developmentally disabled boy in What's Eating Gilbert Grape (both 1993), which earned him an Academy Award nomination. He achieved international fame as a star in the epic romance Titanic (1997), which became the highest-grossing film to that point. After a brief setback, DiCaprio starred in two critically acclaimed films in 2002: the biographical crime drama Catch Me If You Can and the historical drama Gangs of New York, which marked his first of many collaborations with director Martin Scorsese.

DiCaprio subsequently earned nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the roles of Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004) and a mercenary in the political thriller Blood Diamond (2006), and also received acclaim for his roles in the crime drama The Departed (2006) and the romantic drama Revolutionary Road (2008). In the 2010s, he starred in the science fiction thriller Inception (2010), the western Django Unchained (2012), the biopic The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), the survival drama The Revenant (2015)—for which he earned an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role—and the comedy-drama Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019). DiCaprio is the founder of the production company Appian Way Productions, which has produced some of his own films, including The Aviator and The Wolf of Wall Street, and the television show, Greensburg (2008–2010).

DiCaprio is the founder of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting environmental awareness. He regularly supports charitable causes, and has produced several documentaries on environment. In 2005, he was named the commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his contributions to the arts, and in 2016, he was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by the Time magazine.

Early life and acting background

Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio was born on November 11, 1974 in Los Angeles, California,[1] the only child of Irmelin (née Indenbirken), a legal secretary, and George DiCaprio, an underground comix artist and producer and distributor of comic books.[2] DiCaprio's father is of Italian and German descent, and the actor is hence conversant in Italian.[3][4] DiCaprio's maternal grandfather, Wilhelm Indenbirken, was German.[5] His maternal grandmother, Helene Indenbirken was a Russian-born German citizen.[6][7] In an interview in Russia, DiCaprio referred to himself as "half-Russian" and said that two of his late grandparents were Russian.[6] DiCaprio's parents met while attending college and subsequently moved to Los Angeles.[8]

DiCaprio was named after Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci.[9]

DiCaprio was named Leonardo because his pregnant mother was looking at a Leonardo da Vinci painting in the Uffizi museum in Florence, Italy, when he first kicked.[9] His parents separated when he was a year old; while he lived mostly with his mother, his parents agreed to live next door so as not to deprive DiCaprio of his father's presence in his life.[10][11] DiCaprio and his mother lived in several Los Angeles neighborhoods, such as Echo Park and Los Feliz, while his mother worked several jobs.[8] He attended Seeds Elementary School and John Marshall High School a few blocks away, after attending the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies for four years.[12] DiCaprio has said he hated attending public school, and often asked his mother to take him to auditions instead to improve their financial situation.[13] He dropped out of high school following his third year, eventually earning his general equivalency diploma (GED).[14]

DiCaprio has said his career choice as a child was to become a marine biologist or an actor, but he eventually favored the latter, as he was fond of impersonating characters and imitating people.[15] When he was two, he went to a performance festival with his family where he went up on stage and started dancing, which entertained the crowd and he loved the attention.[16] When his older stepbrother Adam Farrar earned a check of $50,000 for a television commercial, DiCaprio, fascinated with this, also decided to become an actor.[17] In 1979, DiCaprio was removed, at the age of five, from the set of the children's television series Romper Room for being disruptive.[18][19] He began appearing in several commercials at age 14 for Matchbox cars by Mattel, which he considered his first role,[18][20] and later for Kraft Foods, Bubble Yum, and Apple Jacks.[21] In 1989, he played the role of Glen in two episodes of the television show The New Lassie.[22][23]

In the beginning of his career, DiCaprio had difficulty finding an agent. One agent suggested he change his name to Lenny Williams to appeal to the American audience, which he refused.[24][25] He remained jobless for a year and a half even after 100 auditions. Disillusioned at this, he initially decided to quit acting, but his father encouraged him not to give up.[24] By the early 1990s, he began acting regularly on television, starting with a role in the pilot of The Outsiders (1990) and one episode of the soap opera Santa Barbara (1990), in which he played the young Mason Capwell.[26] DiCaprio got a break that year when he was cast in Parenthood, a series based on a successful comedy film by the same name. Before he was cast in the role of Garry Buckman, a troubled teenager, he analyzed Joaquin Phoenix's performance in the original film.[27] His works that year earned him two nominations at the 12th Youth in Film Awards—Best Young Actor in a Daytime Series for Santa Barbara and Best Young Actor Starring in a New Television Series for Parenthood.[28] DiCaprio was also a celebrity contestant on the children's game show Fun House. One of the stunts he performed on the show was going fishing in a small pool of water by catching the fish only with his teeth.[29][30]

Career

1991–1996: Major projects and breakthrough

In 1991, DiCaprio played an un-credited role in one episode of Roseanne.[31] His film debut came later that year in the low-budget horror direct-to-video film Critters 3, in which he played the stepson of an evil landlord, a role he described as "your average, no-depth, standard kid with blond hair."[32] DiCaprio prefers not to remember his role in Critters 3, which he describes as "possibly one of the worst films of all time. I guess it was a good example to look back and make sure it doesn't happen again".[33] Later that year, he became a recurring cast member on the successful ABC sitcom Growing Pains, playing Luke Brower, a homeless boy who is taken in by the Seaver family.[34] Costar Joanna Kerns recalls DiCaprio being "especially intelligent and disarming for his age" but also mischievous on set.[35] A teenage DiCaprio was cast by the producers to appeal to the younger female audiences, but the show's ratings did not improve and he left it soon after.[34] He was nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor Co-starring in a Television Series.[36]

Lasse Hallström gave DiCaprio his first Academy Award-nominated role in What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

In 1992, DiCaprio played a supporting role in the first installment of the Poison Ivy film series,[37] and was handpicked by Robert De Niro out of 400 young actors to play the lead role in Michael Caton-Jones's This Boy's Life. He played opposite De Niro, who was acting as his stepfather, and Ellen Barkin as his mother. [18] Caton-Jones has said DiCaprio did not know how to behave on set; he subsequently applied a strict mentoring style and was satisfied with how DiCaprio changed after filming finished.[35] Bilge Ebiri of Rolling Stone found it "an evocative, touching little movie, defined by the powerful bond between Barkin and DiCaprio", praising his complex growth from "a wide-eyed son to a rebellious greaser to an independent, sensitive young man".[37]

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 cast DiCaprio when he contacted Caton-Jones and he had emerged as "the most observant actor" among all who auditioned.[35][32] The film became a critical success,[38] resulting in various accolades for DiCaprio, including a National Board of Review Award and nominations for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor.[39] The New York Times critic Janet Maslin wrote, "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."[40] Caryn James, also writing for The New York Times, said of his performances in This Boy's Life and What's Eating Gilbert Grape: "He made the raw, emotional neediness of those boys completely natural and powerful."[41]

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, costar Sharon Stone paid his salary herself.[42] 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.[43] DiCaprio next starred alongside David Thewlis in Agnieszka Holland's Total Eclipse, a fictionalized account of the homosexual relationship between Arthur Rimbaud (DiCaprio) and Paul Verlaine (Thewlis). He replaced River Phoenix, who died before filming began.[44] The film grossed only $0.34 million against its €6-million budget.[45] DiCaprio's last film in 1995 was The Basketball Diaries, a biopic, in which he played Jim Carroll in his teenage years as a drug-addicted high school basketball player and writer.[46]

In 1996, DiCaprio appeared opposite Claire Danes in Baz Luhrmann's film Romeo + Juliet, an abridged modernization of William Shakespeare's romantic tragedy of the same name, which retained the original Shakespearean dialogue. The project achieved a worldwide box office take of $147 million, and earned DiCaprio a Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 1997 Berlin International Film Festival.[47][48] Later that year, he starred in Marvin's Room, a family drama revolving around two sisters, played by Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton, who are reunited through tragedy after 17 years of estrangement. DiCaprio portrayed Hank, Streep's character's troubled son, who has been committed to a mental asylum.[49]

1997–2001: Stardom with Titanic and subsequent setback

DiCaprio turned down an offer to do the film Boogie Nights (1997) to star alongside Kate Winslet in James Cameron's Titanic (1997) as members of different social classes who fall in love aboard RMS Titanic during its ill-fated maiden voyage.[50] DiCaprio initially refused to play the character, but was eventually encouraged to pursue the role by Cameron, who strongly believed in his acting ability.[51] With a production budget of more than $200 million, the film was the most expensive ever made and was filmed at Rosarito Beach where a replica of the ship was created.[52] Against expectations, Titanic went on to become the highest-grossing film to that point, eventually grossing more than $2.1 billion in box-office receipts worldwide,[a] and transformed DiCaprio into a superstar, resulting in intense adoration among teenage girls and young women in general that became known as "Leo-Mania."[55][56] The film won 11 Academy Awards—the most for any film—including Best Picture, but DiCaprio's failure to gain a nomination led to a protest against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by more than 200 fans.[57][58] He was nominated for other high-profile awards, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.[59]

A photograph of Leonardo DiCaprio attending a press conference for The Beach.
DiCaprio at a press conference for The Beach in February 2000

Upon the success of Titanic, DiCaprio stated in 2000: "I have no connection with me during that whole Titanic phenomenon and what my face became around the world [...] 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."[60] John Hiscock of The Daily Telegraph compared DiCaprio's popularity during that time to that of The Beatles' in the 1960s.[55] Bilge Ebiri called his role in the film his best, writing that DiCaprio and Winslet "infuse their earnest back-and-forth with so much genuine emotion that it's hard not to get swept up in their doomed love affair".[37]

DiCaprio played a self-mocking role in a small appearance in Woody Allen's caustic satire of the fame industry, Celebrity (1998) whom Bilge Ebiri labelled "the best thing in the film".[61][37] That year, he also starred in the dual roles of the villainous King Louis XIV and his secret, sympathetic twin brother Philippe in Randall Wallace's The Man in the Iron Mask, based on the same-titled 1939 film. The film received mixed to negative response,[62] but became a box office success, grossing $180 million internationally.[63] Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman wrote that DiCaprio did not look old enough to play the part, but praised him as "a fluid and instinctive actor, with the face of a mischievous angel";[64] the actor was awarded a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple for both incarnations the following year.[65]

DiCaprio was cast in American Psycho (2000) in 1998 for a reported salary of $20 million, but left the project soon after when he failed to agree with Oliver Stone on the film's direction and favored the lead role in The Beach instead.[66] The latter, an adaption of Alex Garland's 1996 novel of the same name, saw him play an American backpacking tourist looking for the perfect way of life in a secret island commune in the Gulf of Thailand. Budgeted at $50 million, the film earned about three times more at the box office,[67] but was negatively reviewed by critics, and earned him a nomination for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor.[68][69] Todd McCarthy of Variety noted that his character is "too much the American Everyman" that lacks individuality, and "DiCaprio, while perfectly watchable," failed to give the character the unique marks to make him dimensional.[70]

In the mid 1990s, DiCaprio appeared in the mostly improvised short film called Don's Plum, as a favor to aspiring director R. D. Robb.[18] When Robb decided to expand the black-and-white film to feature length, DiCaprio and co-star Tobey Maguire had its release blocked by court order, arguing that they never intended to make it a theatrical release, as it would have commercial value thanks to their stardom.[18] The film eventually premiered at the 2001 Berlin International Film Festival, where it was well received by critics.[71]

2002–2009: Biopics, dramas and producing

DiCaprio with Martin Scorsese and Cameron Diaz at Gangs of New York event circa 2002

DiCaprio's first film of 2002 was Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, a historical drama set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of New York City. Director Scorsese initially struggled selling his idea of realizing the film until DiCaprio became interested in playing protagonist Amsterdam Vallon, a young leader of the Irish faction, and thus, Miramax Films got involved with financing the project.[72] Nonetheless production on the film was plagued by blown-out budgets and producer-director squabbles, resulting in a marathon eight-month shoot and, at $103 million, the most expensive film Scorsese had ever made.[72] Gangs of New York earned a total of $193 million worldwide and received mostly positive reviews.[73][74] DiCaprio's performance, although well-received, was overshadowed by that of Daniel Day-Lewis' according to most critics.[75][76]

Also in 2002, DiCaprio appeared in the biographical crime drama film Catch Me If You Can, based on the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., who, before his 19th birthday committed check fraud to make millions in the 1960s. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film was shot in 147 different locations in only 52 days, making it "the most adventurous, super-charged movie-making" DiCaprio had experienced yet.[77] The film received favorable reviews and proved to be an international success, becoming DiCaprio's highest-grossing release since Titanic with a total of US$351 million worldwide.[78] Roger Ebert praised his performance, and found his departure from dark and troubled characters "breezy and charming".[79] DiCaprio received his third Golden Globe nomination for his work in the film.[80]

In 2004, DiCaprio founded the production company Appian Way Productions, taking its name from the Italian road of the same name.[26] He was interested to find "out of the box" material from an perspective and develop it that way from the original source work. He said, "A lot of times, I'd gone through the process of getting a great book or finding a great story, and then too many people get their hands on it and it turns into something entirely different. It is very difficult to reverse that process."[81] DiCaprio's first producing task was as an executive producer in Niels Mueller' The Assassination of Richard Nixon, starring Sean Penn as Samuel Byck, who attempted to assassinate US president Richard Nixon in 1974.[82] It was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.[83] DiCaprio and Scorsese reunited for a biopic of the eccentric and obsessive American film director and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004), which he also co-produced under Appian Way. Centering on Hughes' life from the late 1920s to 1947, DiCaprio initially developed the project with Michael Mann, who decided against directing it after working on back-to-back biopics; The Insider (1999) and Ali (2001).[76] The actor eventually pitched John Logan's script to Scorsese, who quickly signed on to direct. The Aviator became a critical and financial success.[84] Simond Braund of Empire wrote DiCaprio stood out in scenes depicting Hughes' paranoia and obsession, "dispelling fears that he hasn't the weight to carry such a complex, forceful role".[85] He won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor and received his first Academy Award for Best Actor nomination.[86]

In 2006, DiCaprio starred in the political war thriller Blood Diamond and the crime film The Departed. In Scorsese's The Departed DiCaprio played the role of Billy Costigan, a state trooper working undercover in an Irish Mob in Boston, someone he characterizes as in a "constant, 24-hour panic attack". DiCaprio especially liked the experience of working with costar Jack Nicholson, describing a scene with him "one of the most memorable moments" of his life as an actor.[87] In preparation, DiCaprio visited Boston to interact with people associated with the Irish Mob and gained 15 pounds (6.8 kg) of muscle.[88] Highly anticipated, the film was released to positive reviews and became one of the highest-rated wide release films of 2006.[89] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone praised DiCaprio's and costar Matt Damon's "explosive, emotionally complex performances", but felt that Nicholson overshadowed the two.[90] Budgeted at $90 million, the film grossed $291 million and emerged as DiCaprio and Scorsese's highest-grossing collaboration to date.[91]

Leonardo DiCaprio in 2007.
DiCaprio at the red carpet at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival

In Edward Zwick's war film Blood Diamond, he starred as a diamond smuggler from Rhodesia who is involved in the Sierra Leone Civil War. For the role, DiCaprio spent six months in Africa, learned about camouflage from people in South African military and interviewed and recorded people in the country to improve his South African accent.[92] The film received generally favorable reviews,[93] and DiCaprio was praised for the authenticity of his South African accent, known as a difficult accent to imitate.[94] Claudia Puig of the USA Today called it "the first time the boyish actor has truly seemed like a man on film" and Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post positively noted his growth as an actor since his performance in The Departed.[95][96] Both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild nominated DiCaprio twice in the Best Actor category for both of his 2006 features, and DiCaprio earned his third Academy Award nomination for Blood Diamond.[97] His performance in The Departed also earned him a Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor.[98]

In 2007, DiCaprio produced the comedy drama Gardener of Eden (2007), which, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck, "lack[ed] the necessary dramatic urgency or black humor to connect with audiences".[99] Shortly after saw the release of The 11th Hour, a documentary about people's relationship to nature and global warming, which he created, produced, co-written and narrated. It won the Earthwatch Environmental Film Award through the National Geographic Channel in March 2008.[100]

In 2008, DiCaprio starred in Body of Lies, a spy film based on the novel of the same name by David Ignatius, set in context of the Middle East and the War on Terror, telling the story of three men battling a terrorist organization, and each other.[101] DiCaprio dyed his hair brown and wore brown contacts for the role, which he chose to pursue because he considered it a throwback to political films of the 1970s like The Parallax View (1974) and Three Days of the Condor (1975).[101] The film received mixed reviews from critics,[102] and at a budget of $67.5 million, became a moderate box office success, grossing $115 million worldwide.[103] Later that year, DiCaprio reunited with Kate Winslet to film the drama Revolutionary Road (2008), directed by Winslet's then-husband Sam Mendes. As both actors had been reluctant to make romantic films similar to Titanic, it was Winslet who suggested that both should work with her on a film adaptation of the 1961 novel of the same name by Richard Yates after reading the script by Justin Haythe, knowing that plot had little in common with the 1997 blockbuster.[104] Once DiCaprio agreed to the film, it went almost immediately into production.[105] He noted that he saw his character as "unheroic" and "slightly cowardly" and that he was "willing to be just a product of his environment."[106] Playing a couple in a failing marriage in the 1950s, DiCaprio and Winslet spent some time together in preparation, and DiCaprio felt claustrophobic on the small set they used.[107][108] Marshall Sella of GQ called it the "most mature and memorable performance of his lifetime";[108] DiCaprio earned his seventh Golden Globes nomination for the film.[109]

Also in 2008, DiCaprio was a creator and an executive producer for Greensburg an American television series broadcast on the Planet Green television network. The show takes place in Greensburg, Kansas, and is about rebuilding the town in a sustainable way after being hit by the May 2007 EF5 tornado, and ran for three seasons until 2010.[110] He ended the 2000s by producing the psychological horror thriller film Jaume Collet-Serra's Orphan (2009), starring Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard and Isabelle Fuhrman. The plot centers on a couple who, after the death of their unborn child, adopt a mysterious 9-year-old girl. The film was considered by the adoption community to promote negative stereotypes about orphans.[111] Although the film received mixed reviews, it was a commercial success.[112]

2010–2013: Inception, Django Unchained and further films with Martin Scorsese

Leonardo DiCaprio at a film festival in 2010.
DiCaprio at the premiere of Shutter Island at the 60th Berlin Film Festival in 2010

DiCaprio continued his collaborative streak with Scorsese in the 2010 psychological thriller film Shutter Island (2010), based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane. He played Edward "Teddy" Daniels, a U.S. Marshal investigating a psychiatric facility located on an island, but comes to question his own sanity. DiCaprio and Scorsese quickly drew toward the project in 2007, and the former co-produced the film under Appian Way with Phoenix Pictures.[113] Filming proved to be a traumatic experience for DiCaprio, as he had nightmares of mass murder during production.[114] The film was released to mixed reviews; Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian praised the direction and performances but criticized its "silly twist ending", calling it "supremely exasperating".[115] Peter Travers called it DiCaprio's "most haunting and emotionally complex performance yet", and particularly liked his cave scene with costar Patricia Clarkson.[116] The film was a commercial success, grossing $294 million worldwide.[117]

Also in 2010, DiCaprio starred in director Christopher Nolan's ensemble science-fiction film Inception. Inspired by the experience of lucid dreaming and dream incubation,[118] the film features DiCaprio's character, Dom Cobb, an "extractor" who enters the dreams of others to obtain information that is otherwise inaccessible. Cobb is promised a chance to regain his old life in exchange for planting an idea in a corporate target's mind.[119] DiCaprio was "intrigued by this concept—this dream-heist notion and how this character's gonna unlock his dreamworld and ultimately affect his real life."[120] Released to critical acclaim, Inception grossed over $825 million worldwide to become DiCaprio's second highest-grossing film.[121][122] To star in this film, DiCaprio agreed to a pay cut from his $20 million fee, in favor of splitting first-dollar gross points, which means he receives money coming directly off the top of ticket sales. This risk paid off, as DiCaprio earned $50 million from the film to become his highest payday yet.[123]

A photograph of the cast of Inception, including Leonardo DiCaprio on the right.
DiCaprio (first on the right) with the cast of Inception at the premiere in July 2010

After playing demanding roles in Shutter Island and Inception, DiCaprio took break from acting, as he wanted some time for himself.[124] In 2011, he starred alongside Armie Hammer and Naomi Watts in Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, a biopic about J. Edgar Hoover. The film focuses on the career of the FBI director from the Palmer Raids onwards, including an examination of his private life as an alleged closeted homosexual.[125] Reviews toward the film were mostly mixed; critics commended DiCaprio's performance but felt that, overall, the film lacked coherence.[126] Roger Ebert praised DiCaprio's "fully-realized, subtle and persuasive performance, hinting at more than Hoover ever revealed, perhaps even to himself."[127] Also in 2011, he produced Catherine Hardwicke's romantic horror film Red Riding Hood, which is very loosely based movie on the folk tale Little Red Riding Hood. Although it was poorly received by critics—Mary Pols of Time named it one of the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2011—it had moderate box-office returns.[128][129] He was also an executive producer for George Clooney's political drama The Ides of March, an adaptation of Beau Willimon's 2008 play Farragut North.[130]

In 2012, DiCaprio starred as a plantation owner Calvin Candie in Quentin Tarantino's spaghetti western, Django Unchained. After reading the script, DiCaprio was initially uncomfortable with the extent of racism portrayed in the film, but his costars and Tarantino eventually convinced him not to extenuate it.[131] While filming, DiCaprio accidentally cut his hand on glass, but continued filming, and Tarantino elected to use the take in the final movie.[132] The film received positive reviews from critics;[133] a writer for Wired commended him for playing a villainous role and his "blood-chilling" performance.[134] The film earned DiCaprio his ninth nomination at the Golden Globes.[135] Django Unchained grossed $424 million worldwide on a production budget of $100 million.[136]

DiCaprio's next role was as the millionaire Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby (2013), an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel of same name, costarring Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. DiCaprio was attracted to the idea of playing a man with nothing who makes himself solely based on his imaginations and that can be interpreted in several ways: "a hopeless romantic, a completely obsessed wacko or a dangerous gangster, clinging to wealth".[137] It received mixed reviews from critics, but DiCaprio's portrayal was praised, and earned him an AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.[138][139] Critic Rafer Guzman of Newsday praised DiCaprio as not only "tough [...] but also vulnerable, touching, funny, a faker, a human. It's a tremendous, hard-won performance."[140] Matt Zoller Seitz of Roger Ebert's website described his performance as "the movie's greatest and simplest special effect," and "iconic—maybe his career best."[141] The film grossed $348 million worldwide.[142]

Leonardo DiCaprio smiling at the camera.
DiCaprio at the London premiere of The Wolf of Wall Street in 2014

Three films were produced by DiCaprio under Appian Way in 2013—the ensemble crime thriller Runner Runner, which The Guardian's Xan Brooks described as "a lazy, trashy film that barely goes through the motions";[143] the thriller Out of the Furnace, a critical and commercial failure;[144] and the black comedy-drama The Wolf of Wall Street. DiCaprio reunited with Scorsese for the fifth time in The Wolf of Wall Street, a film based on the life of stockbroker Jordan Belfort (played by DiCaprio), who was arrested in the late 1990s for securities fraud and money laundering.[145] DiCaprio wanted to play Belfort ever since he had read his autobiography and won a bidding war with Warner Bros. against Brad Pitt/Paramount Pictures for the rights to Belfort's memoir in 2007.[146][147] He was fond of Belfort's honest and unapologetic portrayal of his actual experiences in the book, and was inspired by the financial crisis of 2007–2008 to make the film.[81] The Wolf of Wall Street received mostly positive reviews for its direction and the comedic portrayal of DiCaprio.[148] In his review for The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy wrote of his "largest and best screen performance, one in which he lets loose as he never has before, is not protective of vanity or a sense of cool and, one feels, gets completely to the bottom of his character" and praised him for playing his role without any caution.[149] The film earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy and nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor and Best Picture.[150][151] In January 2013, DiCaprio said he was going to take a long break from acting and would "fly around the world doing good for the environment."[152]

2014–present: Documentaries, The Revenant and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

DiCaprio was an executive producer on Virunga, a 2014 British documentary film about four people fighting to protect the world's last mountain gorillas from war and poaching.[153] The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 17, 2014. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret was another documentary film that year, for which he was an executive producer—he took part in the new cut released exclusively on Netflix that September. It explores the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and investigates the policies of environmental organizations on this issue.[154]

DiCaprio at the 2016 premiere of The Revenant

In 2015, DiCaprio produced and played fur trapper Hugh Glass in Alejandro G. Iñárritu's survival drama The Revenant. DiCaprio has described it his most difficult film. He had to eat a raw slab of bison's liver and sleep in animal carcasses, and suffered hypothermia.[155][156] He also learned to shoot a musket, build a fire, speak two Native American languages (Pawnee and Arikara) and ancient healing techniques.[157] Built on a budget of $135 million, the film earned $533 million worldwide.[158] It was also well received by critics,[159] and DiCaprio's performance garnered universal acclaim;[160][161] Mark Kermode of The Guardian wrote of DiCaprio's "brainstorming" portrayal and "his turn to triumph with a performance which relies more upon physicality than the spoken word", and Nick De Semlyen of Empire noted his "raw performance helps elevate what could have been just another man-versus-nature drama".[162][163] The film earned him numerous awards, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, an SAG and a Critic's Choice Award for Best Actor.[164][165] Also in 2015, he was an executive producer for Catching the Sun, a documentary film on the growth of the solar power industry that premiered on Netflix in April 2016.[166]

For the next three years, DiCaprio narrated documentaries and served as a producer for films. In 2016, he was an executive producer for The Ivory Game, which examines the ivory trade;[167] produced, hosted, and narrated the documentary Before the Flood about climate change;[168] and produced the crime drama Live by Night. The last of these received largely unenthusiastic reviews and failed to recoup its $65 million production budget.[169] He continued to produce films two years later—the psychological horror Delirium,[170] and the eponymous retelling of the legend Robin Hood, an action adventure, which proved to be a critical and commercial disappointment.[171]

After narrating the 2019 global warming documentary Ice on Fire,[172] DiCaprio returned to acting after four years in Quentin Tarantino's comedy-drama Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which traces the relationship between Rick Dalton (DiCaprio), an aging television actor and his stuntman, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). To help the film's financing, DiCaprio and Pitt agreed to take a pay cut, and they each received $10 million.[173] DiCaprio liked the experience of working with Pitt; Tarantino described the pair as "the most exciting star dynamic duo" since Robert Redford and Paul Newman.[174][175] DiCaprio was fascinated with the film's homage to Hollywood and focus on the friendship between his and Pitt's characters. For his role, DiCaprio drew from real-life experience of witnessing the struggles and rejections of his actor friends in the industry.[175] Reviews for the film and DiCaprio's performance were positive;[176] a critic for Business Insider called it the best performance of his career and Ian Sandwell of Digital Spy particularly liked DiCaprio's and Pitt's "easy" chemistry, which he said helps bring authenticity to their characters' connection.[177][178] The film earned a total of $357 million against its $90-million budget.[179]

Works in development

In August 2015, it was announced that Martin Scorsese will direct an adaptation of Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, which will star DiCaprio.[180] In 2017, Paramount announced that it has acquired the movie rights for an English language adaptation of The Black Hand, which will star DiCaprio as Joe Petrosino.[181] Later that year, Paramount won a bidding war against Universal Pictures for the rights to adapt Walter Isaacson's biography of Leonardo da Vinci. The studio bought the rights under its deal with DiCaprio's Appian Way, which said that it planned to produce the film with DiCaprio as the star.[182][183] As of September 2018, DiCaprio is set to star in Roosevelt, a biopic of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, with Scorsese as the director and DiCaprio as a producer.[184] That October, he was cast in the Scorsese-directed film adaptation of the David Grann's book Killers of the Flower Moon.[185]

Other work

Environmental activism

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and DiCaprio at the Our Ocean Conference at the U.S. Department of State in September 2016

DiCaprio is identified as one of the most active celebrities in the climate change movement.[186] According to him, he was eager to learn about ecology from an early age; he watched documentaries on rain forest depletion and the loss of species and habitats.[187] He established the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting environmental awareness.[188] Although concerned with all areas of the environment, it focuses on global warming, preserving Earth's biodiversity and supporting renewable energy. It has worked on projects in over 40 countries and has produced two short web documentaries, Water Planet and Global Warning.[189] The foundation has also funded debt-for-nature swaps.[190] Because of his active involvement in these causes, DiCaprio has received praise from environmental groups,[191] and accolades, including the Martin Litton Environment Award in 2001 from Environment Now and the Environmental Leadership Award in 2003 from Global Green USA.[192] He has been an active supporter of numerous environmental organizations and sat on board of the World Wildlife Fund, Global Green USA, and International Fund for Animal Welfare.[189][193]

DiCaprio has owned environment-friendly electric-hybrid vehicles and his home is powered by solar panels.[194][191] However, his use of private jets and large yachts has attracted criticism due to their large carbon footprints.[195] DiCaprio states that global warming is the world's "number-one environmental challenge".[196] He chaired the national Earth Day celebration in 2000, where he interviewed Bill Clinton and they discussed plans to deal with global warming and the environment.[197] DiCaprio presented at the 2007 American leg of Live Earth, and in 2010 his environmental work earned DiCaprio a nomination for the VH1 Do Something Award, honoring people who do good.[198]

"Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children's children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed."

—DiCaprio during his acceptance speech at the 88th Academy Awards[199]

In November 2010, DiCaprio donated $1 million to the Wildlife Conservation Society at Russia's tiger summit. DiCaprio's persistence in reaching the event after encountering two plane delays caused then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to describe him as a "muzhik" or "real man".[200][201] In 2011, DiCaprio joined the Animal Legal Defense Fund's campaign to free Tony, a tiger who has spent the last decade at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tête, Louisiana.[202] From a benefit "11th Hour" fine art auction he organized in 2013, he has raised nearly $40 million towards his foundation. He told attendees, "Bid as if the fate of the planet depended on us."[203] It became the world's highest-grossing environmental charity event ever held.[204] In 2014, he was appointed as a United Nations representative on climate change, and later that year he made an opening statement to members of the UN Climate Summit.[205] He again spoke at the UN in April 2016 prior to the signing of Paris Climate Change Agreement.[206]

At a 2016 meeting with Pope Francis, DiCaprio gave a charity donation and spoke about environmental issues. A few days later, possibly influenced by this meeting, the Pope said he would act in a planned faith-based charity film, Beyond the Sun, whose profits were donated to charities in Argentina.[207] In July 2016, his foundation awarded $15.6 million to help protect wildlife and the rights of Native Americans, along with combating climate change.[208] The following July, a charity auction and celebrity concert put on by the foundation had raised over $30 million in its opening days and was set to continue the following month.[209] That October, DiCaprio joined Mark Ruffalo in North Dakota in support of the Standing Rock tribe's opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. He traveled to Indonesia in early 2016 where he criticized the government's palm oil industry's slash-and-burn forest clearing methods.[210][211] In April 2017, he protested President Trump's inaction on climate change by attending the 2017 People's Climate March.[212]

Philanthropy

In 1998, DiCaprio and his mother donated $35,000 for a "Leonardo DiCaprio Computer Center" at the Los Feliz branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, the site of his childhood home. It was rebuilt after the 1994 Northridge earthquake and opened in early 1999.[213] During the filming of Blood Diamond, DiCaprio worked with 24 orphaned children from the SOS Children's Village in Maputo, Mozambique, and was said to be extremely touched by his interactions with the children.[214] In 2010, he donated $1 million to relief efforts in Haiti after the earthquake.[215] In April 2013, DiCaprio donated $61,000 to GLAAD, an organization which promotes the image of LGBT people in the media.[216] In 2016, DiCaprio took part in an annual fundraising gala event of Children of Armenia Fund, as a special guest of his close friend and gala's honorary chair Tony Shafrazi. DiCaprio contributing $65,000 to the cause.[217] After Hurricane Harvey in 2017, DiCaprio provided $1 million to the United Way Harvey Recovery Fund through his foundation.[218]

Personal life

DiCaprio in 2010

DiCaprio's personal life is the subject of widespread media attention. He rarely gives interviews and is reluctant to discuss his private life, focusing on his work instead.[41][219] "My attitude is the same as when I started. I feel very connected to that fifteen-year-old kid who got his first movie", he says of his success.[175] He finds little value in material objects, and calls greed and wealth "the root problem of everything". He considers it his moral obligation to give back in whatever way he can.[15] DiCaprio is agnostic.[220]

In 2000, DiCaprio met Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen, whom he dated until 2005.[221] He was romantically involved with Israeli model Bar Refaeli from 2005 to 2011, during which time he met with Israeli president Shimon Peres and visited Refaeli's hometown of Hod HaSharon.[222][223] In 2005, DiCaprio's face was severely injured when model Aretha Wilson hit him over the head with a broken bottle at a Hollywood party. After pleading guilty in 2010, Wilson was sentenced to prison for two years.[224] DiCaprio dated German fashion model Toni Garrn from July 2013 until December 2014, and briefly reunited in 2017.[225] Asked if he believes in marriage, he has said, "That time will come when that time comes. The truth is, you can't predict marriage. You can't plan it."[15]

DiCaprio owns a home in Los Angeles and an apartment in Battery Park City.[226] In 2009, he bought an island, Blackadore Caye, off mainland Belize—on which he is planning to create an eco-friendly resort[227]—and in 2014, he purchased the original Dinah Shore residence designed by mid-century modern architect Donald Wexler in Palm Springs, California.[228]

During the 2004 presidential election, DiCaprio campaigned and donated to John Kerry's presidential bid. DiCaprio gave $2,300 to Barack Obama's presidential campaign in the 2008 election, the maximum contribution an individual could give in that election cycle, and $5,000 to Obama's 2012 campaign.[229] In 2016, DiCaprio endorsed Hillary Clinton for the 2016 presidential election.[230] In June 2017, DiCaprio returned an Oscar won by Marlon Brando, together with other artifacts he received from business associates at Red Granite Pictures as his 38th birthday gift, to the US government amid an investigation into the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal.[231]

Reception and acting style

Early in his career, DiCaprio gained a reputation for his intense partying with his male friends.[35] DiCaprio said people's perception of him was exaggerated, adding, "They want you miserable, just like them. They don't want heroes; what they want is to see you fall".[41] In 1998, he sued Playgirl magazine over plans to publish a fully nude picture of him.[232] The New York Times' Caryn James has since credited DiCaprio for being one of the few actors to turn his success into "a new form of old-fashioned Hollywood stardom that uses celebrity to advance social causes yet rarely lets the public beyond the glittering veil of the photo op".[41] Carole Cadwalla of The Guardian says DiCaprio is "polite, charming, makes jokes, engages eye contact. And manages [...] to give almost no hint whatsoever of his actual personality".[233]

"Life can get pretty monotonous. Acting is like living multiple lives. When you make a movie, you go off to different places, live different cultures, investigate somebody else’s reality, and you try to manifest that to the best of your ability. It is incredibly eye-opening. That’s why I love acting. There’s nothing as transformative as what a film, a documentary, can do to get people to care about something else besides their own lives."

—DiCaprio on why he loves acting[15]

DiCaprio is considered one of the most talented actors of his generation.[234][219][235] As he achieved international stardom after Titanic (1997), it intensified his image as a teen idol and romantic lead, both of which he sought to dissociate himself from.[56] He has said he feels nervous starring in big-budget studio films due to their hype and marketing campaign. As an actor, he likes to look at film as a "relevant art form, like a painting or sculpture. A hundred years from now, people will still be watching that movie".[236] He is drawn to parts based on real people, and stories told in specific periods.[15] According to Caryn James, DiCaprio is unafraid of working on "offbeat projects by first-rate directors", a risk that has led to "misbegotten" projects like The Beach (2000),[41] but also his most notable collaborations with Martin Scorsese on several projects.[237][238] DiCaprio describes his relationship with the director as "pretty much a dream come true for me", and admires his knowledge of cinema, crediting him for teaching him the history and importance of cinema.[233] Scorsese, on his part, has said, "Leo will give me the emotion where I least expect it and could only hope for in about three or four scenes. And he can do it take after take."[239] Jesse Hassenger of The A.V. Club believes both artists have benefited from the projects, which have helped define their careers in the 2000s.[240]

Agnieszka Holland, who directed DiCaprio in Total Eclipse (1995), describes DiCaprio as "one of the most mature actors I've ever worked with", and admires his "courageous" roles choice.[219] She says he does not apply method acting, but is "doing some trick which is pretty mysterious to everyone watching – frankly even for the director. Look at him on screen and, for the moment of the shot, he really becomes the character."[219] Late film critic Philip French, writing for The Observer, called DiCaprio a "superb actor who hasn't yet quite become an adult", and identified a theme of characters in the process of becoming a man. He wrote that DiCaprio's inclination toward films about dysfunctional families and characters seeking a father figure allude to his own troubled childhood.[233] DiCaprio often plays characters who themselves are playing roles, which according to Caryn James "looks simple on screen but is immensely sophisticated".[41] He tends to play antiheroes and characters that go crazy as the narrative progresses.[241][242] DiCaprio is particularly known for his ability to heavily commit to each role he plays; Colin Covert of The Seattle Times notes how this quality sets him apart from most of his contemporaries and "redefines film stardom".[243][244]

Several media outlets have included DiCaprio in their beauty lists, such as People,[25] Empire,[245] and Harper's Bazaar.[246] He has said he does not believe in the appeal, as it is only temporary and can negatively affect one's career, looking for career longevity instead.[247] In 2005, DiCaprio was made a commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture for his contributions to the arts.[248] In 2016, he was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by the Time magazine.[249] He was included in Forbes' annual list of highest-paid actors in 2008 and from 2010 to 2016 with respective earnings of $45 million, $28 million, $77 million, $37 million, $39 million, $29 million and $27 million, topping the list in 2011. The magazine praised DiCaprio's ability to star in risky, R-rated films that become box-office hits.[250] The Hollywood Reporter's Tatiana Siegel credits DiCaprio for being a rare actor to have a successful career "without ever having made a comic book movie, family film or pre-branded franchise. Leo is the franchise".[251] Stacey Wilson Hunt, analyzing his career in New York magazine in 2016, noted DiCaprio, unlike most of his contemporaries, had not starred in a failed film in the past ten years.[219]

Filmography and awards

According to the online portal Box Office Mojo and the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, DiCaprio's most critically and commercially successful films include What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Titanic (1997), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006), Blood Diamond (2006), Inception (2010), Django Unchained (2012), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), The Revenant (2015) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019). His films have grossed a total of $7.2 billion worldwide.[122][252]

DiCaprio has been recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the following performances:[253][254]

DiCaprio has won three Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for The Aviator and The Revenant and Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for The Wolf of Wall Street,[255] and a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Revenant.[256]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Titanic grossed $1.84 billion at the time of its release. After a re-release in 3D in 2012, it earned an additional $343.6 million worldwide, totaling up to $2.18 billion.[53][54]

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Book sources

External links