Leonardo DiCaprio might well be one of the biggest actors in Hollywood today, but he has seen his share of negative critique and failures. Born on 11 November 1974 in Los Angeles, California, Leonardo started auditioning for commercials at the age of 5. Unlike many would like to think so, he had to take part in numerous small roles before getting his big break so-to-speak. He was named after the famous artist Leonardo Da Vinci and thanks to his mother's heritage he can speak German fluently.
The young movie idol
His first movie appearance was in Critters 3 (1991) as the stepson of an evil landlord. The character didn't have any real depth or importance for that matter and the film went straight to video. In 1992, he was handpicked by Robert De Niro out of 400 aspiring candidates for the lead role of Toby in This Boy's Life which screened in 1993 with Mr. De Niro co-starring as the controlling stepfather. From the start Leonardo got placed in deep dramatic roles such as this where emotional struggles play a big part.
Later that year he really got some attention with his portrayal of Arnie Grape in the ever popular What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Even though it was a supporting role and Johnny Depp was the leading man, Leonardo could have easily fooled anyone into thinking he was truly mentally handicapped. His execution was second to none in every aspect, especially with all the ticks and nuances.
This was followed with various films, some receiving great critique and others filled with mixed opinions. In 1996, he took on the role of Romeo in the modernized version of Romeo & Juliet while keeping the original dialogue intact. Some argue it was the movie that sparked great interest with his fans, but his popularity had yet to reach its peak. Marvin's Room (1996) saw him rubbing shoulders with Hollywood heavyweights Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro, conveying yet another character who suffers from mental instability.
Alas, the great Titanic arrived in 1997 and Leo was asked to take the leading part of Jack Dawson, a poor 20-something who won two tickets to board the majestic ship. His stardom was elevated into what was called Leo-mania and just about everyone around the world started to pay attention. It goes without saying that it was his most popular movie up till that point.
DiCaprio didn't show any signs of slowing down and kept on making movie after movie. The diverse and darker roles he chose to participate in marked a great change in his exploration towards what he was able to do. In 2002, he appeared alongside the brilliant Daniel Day-Lewis in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. A feud between fans and critics surfaced after the movie screened about which one of the two actors did the best job.
His more recent releases like Inception (2010), Django Unchained (2012) and The Wolf of Wall Street (2014) are all winners in many respects. Even though his diversity hasn't let up it would seem his state of fame and respect has reached an untouchable level that took a lot of hard work. One of the biggest reasons his fans keep coming back is connected to the risks he's not scared to take.
Other great movies with Leonardo DiCaprio worth mentioning are Catch Me If You Can (2002), with Leonardo playing a conman, and The Departed (2006), a remake of Infernal Affairs (2002).