Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio (/dɨˈkæpri.oʊ/; born November 11, 1974) is an American actor and film producer. He has been nominated for the Golden Globe Award eight times as an actor, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his performance in The Aviator (2004). He has also been nominated by the Academy Awards, Screen Actors Guild, Satellite Awards, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, DiCaprio started his career by appearing in television commercials prior to landing recurring roles in TV series such as the soap opera Santa Barbara and the sitcom Growing Pains in the early 1990s. He made his film debut in the comedic sci-fi horror film Critters 3 (1991) and received first notable critical praise for his performance in This Boy's Life (1993). DiCaprio obtained recognition for his subsequent work in supporting roles in What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) and Marvin's Room (1996), as well as leading roles in The Basketball Diaries (1995) and Romeo + Juliet (1996), before achieving international fame in James Cameron's Titanic (1997).
Since the 2000s, DiCaprio has been nominated for awards for his work in such films as Catch Me If You Can (2002), Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), Blood Diamond (2006), The Departed (2006), and Revolutionary Road (2008). His latest films Shutter Island (2010) and Inception (2010) rank among the biggest commercial successes of his career. DiCaprio owns a production company named Appian Way Productions, whose productions include the films Gardener of Eden (2007) and Orphan (2009). A committed environmentalist, DiCaprio has received praise from environmental groups for his activism.
Early life and family
DiCaprio, an only child, was born in Los Angeles, California. His mother, Irmelin (née Indenbirken), is a former legal secretary; born in Germany; she came to the US as a child with her parents. His father, George DiCaprio, is an underground comic artist and producer/distributor of comic books. DiCaprio's mother moved from Oer-Erkenschwick in the Ruhr, Germany, to the U.S. during the 1950s with her parents, Russian immigrants to Germany. A fourth-generation American, DiCaprio's father is of half Italian (from the Naples area) and half German descent (from Bavaria). DiCaprio's maternal grandmother, Helene Indenbirken (1915–2008), was born Yelena Smirnova in Russia.. In a 2010 conversation with the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, DiCaprio said that two of his grandparents were Russian.
DiCaprio's parents met while attending college and subsequently moved to Los Angeles. He was named Leonardo because his pregnant mother was looking at a Leonardo da Vinci painting in a museum in Italy when DiCaprio first kicked. DiCaprio was raised Catholic.
His parents divorced when he was a year old and he lived mostly with his mother. The two lived in several Los Angeles neighborhoods, such as Echo Park, and at 1874 Hillhurst Avenue, Los Feliz district (which was later converted into a local public library), while his mother worked several jobs to support them. She remarried. He attended Seeds Elementary School and graduated from John Marshall High School a few blocks away, after attending the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies for four years.
DiCaprio's career began with his appearance in several commercials and educational films. After being booted off the set of children's television series Romper Room for being disruptive at the age of five, DiCaprio followed his older stepbrother Adam Farrar into television commercials, landing an ad for Matchbox cars at 14. In 1990, he got his break on television when he was cast in the short-lived series based on the movie Parenthood. After Parenthood, DiCaprio had bit parts on several shows, including The New Lassie and Roseanne, as well as a brief stint on the soap opera Santa Barbara, playing the young Mason Capwell. His involvement in Parenthood and the daily soap earned him a nomination for the Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor each.
His debut film role was in the comedic sci-fi horror film Critters 3, in which he played the stepson of an evil landlord, a role that DiCaprio described as "your average, no-depth, standard kid with blond hair." Released in 1991, the movie went direct-to-video. Soon after, he became a recurring cast member on the ABC sitcom Growing Pains, playing Luke Brower, a homeless boy who is taken in by the Seaver family. DiCaprio made his big screen breakthrough in 1992, when he was handpicked by Robert De Niro out of 400 young actors to play the lead role in This Boy's Life, co-starring Ellen Barkin and De Niro himself.
Later in 1993, DiCaprio co-starred as the mentally handicapped brother to Johnny Depp 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 finally settled on DiCaprio as he had emerged as "the most observant [actor]" among all auditioners. Budgeted at US$11.0 million, the film became a financial and critical success, resulting in a domestic box office total of US$9.1 million and various accolades for DiCaprio, who was awarded the National Board of Review Award and nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his portrayal. New York Times critic Janet Maslin praised DiCaprio's performance, writing "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."
DiCaprio's first effort of 1995 was Sam Raimi's The Quick and the Dead, a western film in which he appeared alongside Gene Hackman, Sharon Stone, and Russell Crowe, playing the role of Hackman's alleged son named Kid. Sony Pictures was dubious over DiCaprio's casting, and as a result, Stone decided to pay for the actor's salary herself. The film was released to a dismal box office performance, barely grossing US$18.5 million in the United States, and received mixed reviews from critics. Jonathan Rosenbaum from the Chicago Reader observed that "Raimi tries to do a Sergio Leone, and though The Quick and the Dead is highly enjoyable in spots, it doesn't come across as very convincing."
Next DiCaprio starred in Total Eclipse, a fictionalized account of the homosexual relationship between Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, played by David Thewlis. He replaced River Phoenix, who had died during pre-production on the project. A minor arthouse success, the film grossed US$0.34 million throughout its domestic theatrical run.
DiCaprio appeared alongside friends Kevin Connolly and Tobey Maguire in the mostly improvised short film called Don's Plum, as a favor to aspiring director R.D. Robb. When Robb decided to expand the black-and-white film to feature length, however, DiCaprio and 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. The film eventually premiered at the 2001 Berlin International Film Festival, where it was well received by critics, with Time Out New York writer Mike D'Angelo calling it "the best film [I saw] in Berlin." DiCaprio's last film of the year 1995 was The Basketball Diaries, a biopic about Jim Carroll.
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 was one of the first films to cash in on DiCaprio's future star-status, with a worldwide box office take of $147 million.
Later that year, he starred in Jerry Zaks' family drama Marvin's Room, reuniting with Robert De Niro. Based on Scott McPherson's screenplay adaptation of his own 1991 stage play of the same name, the film revolves around two sisters, played by Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton, who are reunited through tragedy after 17 years of estrangement. DiCaprio portrayed the character of Hank, Streep's troubled son, who has been committed to a mental asylum for setting fire to his mother's house. On his Chlotrudis Award-winning performance, Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly commented: "The deeply gifted DiCaprio [..] keeps right up with these older pros [Keaton and Streep]. The three are so full-bodied and so powerfully affecting that you're carried along on the pleasure of being in the presence of their extraordinary talent."
In 1997, DiCaprio starred in James Cameron's Titanic (1997), alongside Kate Winslet. Cast as twenty-year-old Jack Dawson, a penniless Wisconsin man who wins two tickets for the third-class on the ill-fated RMS Titanic, DiCaprio initially refused to portray the character but was eventually encouraged to pursue the role by Cameron who strongly believed in his acting ability. Against expectations, the film went on to become the highest-grossing film to date (it was surpassed in 2010 by Cameron's directorial follow-up, Avatar), grossing more than US$1.843 billion in box-office receipts worldwide, and transformed DiCaprio into a commercial movie superstar, resulting in fan worship among teenage girls and young women in general that became known as "Leo-Mania." He was nominated for most of the high-profile awards, including a second Golden Globe nomination. 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."
The following year, DiCaprio made a self-mocking cameo appearance in Woody Allen's caustic satire of the fame industry, Celebrity (1998). 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. Despite receiving a rather mixed to negative response, the film became a box office success, grossing US$180 million internationally. Though DiCaprio's performance was generally well-received, with Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman writing that "the shockingly androgynous DiCaprio looks barely old enough to be playing anyone with hormones, but he's a fluid and instinctive actor, with the face of a mischievous angel," he was awarded a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screen Couple for both incarnations the following year.
DiCaprio's next project was the drama film The Beach (2000), an adaption of Alex Garland's same-titled 1996 novel. Starring alongside Tilda Swinton and Virginie Ledoyen, he played an American backpacking tourist looking for the perfect way of life in a secret island commune in the Gulf of Thailand. Budgeted at $US50 million, the film became a financial success, grossing $US144 million worldwide, but as with DiCaprio's previous project, the film was largely panned by critics. Todd McCarthy of Variety noted that "Richard [DiCaprio's role] is too much the American Everyman and not enough of a well-defined individual to entirely capture one's interest and imagination, and DiCaprio, while perfectly watchable, does not endow him with the quirks or distinguishing marks to make this man from nowhere a dimensional character." The next year, he was nominated for another Razzie Award for his work on the film.
DiCaprio's first film of 2002 was the crime-comedy Catch Me If You Can, based on the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., who, before his 19th birthday, used his charm, confidence, and several different personas, to make millions in the 1960s writing bad checks. Directed by Steven Spielberg and co-starring Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken, 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. Catch Me If You Can received favourable reviews and proved to be an international success, becoming Dicaprio's highest-grossing film since Titanic with a total of US$351.1 million worldwide. Roger Ebert praised his performance, and noted that while "DiCaprio, who in recent films [...] has played dark and troubled characters, is breezy and charming here, playing a boy who discovers what he is good at, and does it." The following year, DiCaprio received his third Golden Globe nomination for his work on the film.
Also in 2002, DiCaprio appeared in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, a historical film 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. Nonetheless production on the film was plagued by blown-out budgets and producer-director squabbles, resulting in a marathon eight-month shoot and, at US$103 million, the most expensive film Scorsese had ever made. Upon its release, Gangs of New York became a financial and critical success however. DiCaprio's acting was well-received but remained overshadowed by Daniel Day-Lewis' performance among most critics.
Forging a collaboration with Scorsese, the two paired again for a biopic of the eccentric and obsessive American film director and aviation pioneer Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004). Centering on Hughes' life from the late 1920s to 1947, DiCaprio initially developed the project with Michael Mann, who decided against directing it after back-to-back film biographies in Ali and The Insider. The actor eventually pitched John Logan's script to Scorsese, who quickly signed on to direct. Altogether, DiCaprio reportedly spent more than a year and a half in preparation for the film which was not necessarily shot in continuity because of actors and locations schedules. The Aviator became a critical and financial success. DiCaprio received rave reviews for his performance and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, also receiving another Academy Award nomination. In 2006, DiCaprio starred in both Blood Diamond and The Departed. In Edward Zwick's war film Blood Diamond, he co-starred alongside Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou as a diamond smuggler from Rhodesia who is involved in the Sierra Leone Civil War. The film itself received generally favorable reviews, and DiCaprio was praised for the authenticity of his South African Afrikaner accent, known as a difficult accent to imitate. In Scorsese's The Departed he played the role of Billy Costigan, a state trooper working undercover in an Irish Mob in Boston. Highly anticipated, the film was released to overwhelmingly positive reviews and became one of the highest-rated wide release films of 2006. Budgeted at US$90 million, it also emerged as DiCaprio and Scorsese's highest-grossing collaboration to date, easily beating The Aviator´s previous record of US$213.7 million. DiCaprio's performance in The Departed was applauded by critics and earned him a Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor. The same year, both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild nominated DiCaprio twice in the Best Actor category for both of his 2006 features, and in addition, DiCaprio earned his third Academy Award nomination for Blood Diamond.
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, unfolding the story of three men battling a terrorist organization, and each other. Directed by Ridley Scott and co-starring Russell Crowe and Vince Colosimo, 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 in the 1970s such as The Parallax View (1974) and Three Days of the Condor (1975). The film received mixed reviews from critics, and at a budget of US$67.5 million, became a moderate box office success, grossing US$115 million worldwide.
The same 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. Once DiCaprio agreed to do the film, it went almost immediately into production. 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." Portraying a couple in a failing marriage in the 1950s, DiCaprio and Winslet watched period videos promoting life in the suburbs to prepare themselves for Revolutionary Road, which earned them favorable reviews. For his portrayal DiCaprio garnered his seventh nomination from the Golden Globes.
DiCaprio continued his run with Scorsese in the 2010 psychological thriller film Shutter Island (2010), based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane. Co-starring Ben Kingsley, Mark Ruffalo and Michelle Williams in supporting roles, the actor played U.S. Marshal Edward "Teddy" Daniels, who is investigating a psychiatric facility located on an island and comes to question his own sanity. With US$41 million, the film opened at number-one at the box office, giving both DiCaprio and Scorsese their best box office opening yet.
Also in 2010, DiCaprio starred in director Christopher Nolan's science-fiction film Inception. Inspired by the experience of lucid dreaming and dream incubation, DiCaprio portrays the character of 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. DiCaprio, the first actor to be cast in the film, was "intrigued by this concept — this dream-heist notion and how this character's gonna unlock his dreamworld and ultimately affect his real life." Released to critical acclaim, the film grossed over US$21 million on its opening day, with an opening weekend gross of US$62.7 million.
In 2011, DiCaprio starred in Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, a biopic about J. Edgar Hoover, the controversial first director of the FBI. He was also cast in the title role in Oliver Stone's film Travis McGee, in which he is expected to play a salvage consultant who helps his clients to recover lost property, and is attached to star as a father who kidnaps and tortures the man who kidnapped his daughter in the thriller Prisoners. In addition, DiCaprio is said to be involved in the pre-production of Ridley Scott's projects The Wolf of Wall Street and Brave New World, Marc Forster's The Chancellor Manuscript and the biopic Sinatra, a film about Frank Sinatra to be directed by Martin Scorsese. In July 2010, it was announced that DiCaprio had pulled out of a Viking movie to be directed by Mel Gibson amid controversy over Gibson's rage-fueled rant tapes and domestic violence probe. On November 1, 2010, it was announced that DiCaprio's production company had acquired the rights to the Erik Larson novel, The Devil in the White City. The novel tells the true story of Dr. H. H. Holmes, a serial killer responsible for the death of hundreds of women during the Chicago World's Fair. It has also been announced that DiCaprio will star in the film, playing the role of serial killer H. H. Holmes. He was also cast in the role of Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann's upcoming adaptation of the novel The Great Gatsby. On November 19, 2010, it was announced that DiCaprio will produce and star in the upcoming 2013 movie based on the book Legacy of Secrecy by Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. DiCaprio will play FBI informant Jack Van Laningham.
DiCaprio will star as villainous Calvin Candie in the upcoming Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained. Principal photography started in California, Wyoming, and Louisiana in the first few months of 2012. He will reunite with Scorsese for the fifth time in The Wolf of Wall Street, a true story based on the life of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who was arrested in the late 1990s for security fraud and money laundering.
DiCaprio is a close friend of actor Tobey Maguire, whom he met while auditioning for the Parenthood series in 1990, and is a longtime friend of both fellow actors Kevin Connolly and Lukas Haas, and Titanic and Revolutionary Road co-star Kate Winslet. He was a childhood friend of Christopher Pettiet.[74
His romantic relationships have been widely covered in the media. DiCaprio dated model Kristen Zang on-and-off for several years, and British model and socialite Emma Miller. In 2001, he met Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen with whom he had an on-and-off relationship until their separation in 2005. DiCaprio began a relationship with model Bar Refaeli in November 2005 after meeting her at a Las Vegas party thrown for members of U2. In the course of their trip to Israel in March 2007, the couple met with Israeli president Shimon Peres and visited Refaeli's hometown of Hod HaSharon. The relationship was on hold for a period of six months starting in June 2009; in early 2010, the romance was rekindled. In May 2011, it was reported that the couple had ended their romantic relationship, although still remaining friends. In August 2011, it was reported that he was in a relationship with actress Blake Lively since mid-May. They ended their relationship in October 2011. DiCaprio began dating Erin Heatherton in December 2011.
DiCaprio owns a home in Los Angeles and an apartment in the TriBeCa neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. In 2009, he bought an island in Belize on which he is planning to create an eco-friendly resort. He also owns an apartment in Riverhouse, an eco-friendly building overlooking the Hudson River in Manhattan.
In 2005 DiCaprio's face was seriously injured when Aretha Wilson, a model, 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.
Environmental activism and philanthropy
A committed environmentalist, DiCaprio has received praise from environmental groups for his activism. In the past, he has opted to fly on commercial flights instead of chartering private jets, he owns an electric Tesla Roadster, Fisker Karma plug in hybrid, and a Toyota Prius. He has also installed solar panels on his house. In an interview with Ukula about his film the 11th Hour, DiCaprio cited global warming as "the number-one environmental challenge."
At the 2007 Oscar ceremony, DiCaprio and former Vice President Al Gore appeared to announce that the Academy Awards had incorporated environmentally intelligent practices throughout the planning and production processes, thus affirming their commitment to the environment, and on July 7, 2007, DiCaprio presented at the American leg of Live Earth. In 2010, his environmental work earned DiCaprio a nomination for the VH1 Do Something Award. The awards show, produced by VH1, is dedicated to honoring people who do good and is powered by Do Something, an organization that aims to empower and inspire young people.
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. 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. In 2010, he donated $1,000,000 to relief efforts in Haiti after the earthquake. During the 2004 Presidential election, DiCaprio campaigned and donated to John Kerry's presidential bid. FEC showed DiCaprio gave $2300 to Barack Obama's presidential campaign in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, the maximum contribution an individual can give in an election cycle.
In November 2010, DiCaprio donated $1,000,000 to the Wildlife Conservation Society at Russia's tiger summit. DiCaprio arrived late after two near-miss flights, causing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to describe him as a "muzhik" or "real man". 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 Tete, Louisiana.