Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio (born November 11, 1974) is an American actor and film producer whose career rose with his role in the television sit-com Growing Pains. His critically acclaimed breakthrough film performance came in This Boy's Life, and was quickly followed by What's Eating Gilbert Grape. His performance as the mentally handicapped brother of Johnny Depp, in the title role, brought him nominations for the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He gained fame for his role as Jack Dawson in Titanic, and has starred in many other successful films including Romeo + Juliet, Catch Me If You Can, and Blood Diamond, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Another Academy Award nomination came for his role as Howard Hughes in The Aviator, directed by Martin Scorsese. He has also worked with Scorsese in films such as Gangs of New York and The Departed. This working partnership brought comparison to the earlier working relationship between Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro, who also benefited from roles in Scorsese films early in his career.

DiCaprio has also been nominated two times for BAFTA, three times for SAG, and seven Golden Globe Awards. He is a Golden Globe and a Silver Bear Award winner.

DiCaprio's career began with his appearing in several commercials and educational films. He got his break on television in 1990 when he was cast in the short-lived series based on the movie Parenthood. On set, he met another struggling child actor, Tobey Maguire. The two quickly became friends and made a pact to help each other find roles in TV and movies. 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 debut film role was Critters 3, a B-grade horror film, which later went straight to video. Soon after, in 1991, he became a recurring cast member on the hit ABC sitcom Growing Pains, playing Luke Brower, a homeless boy who is taken in by the Seavers.

His breakthrough came in 1992, when he beat out hundreds of other boys for the role of Toby Wolff in This Boy's Life, co-starring Robert De Niro and Ellen Barkin. His performance as the troubled, abused teenager was critically acclaimed and Hollywood soon took notice. Later in 1993, he co-starred as the mentally handicapped brother to Johnny Depp in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. His performance earned him both Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for best supporting actor.

1995 was an eventful year for DiCaprio. That year he starred in four movies; in the first one, The Quick and the Dead, he played Gene Hackman's alleged son, Fee, starring alongside Sharon Stone and Russell Crowe.

After The Quick and The Dead, he starred in Total Eclipse, a fictionalized account of the homosexual relationship between Paul Verlaine (David Thewlis) and Arthur Rimbaud. River Phoenix was originally cast as Rimbaud, but died before production.

The black-and-white film Don's Plum, a low budget drama featuring the actor and his friends (including Tobey Maguire) was filmed between 1995 and 1996. Its release was blocked by DiCaprio and Maguire, who argued that they never intended to make it a theatrical release. Nevertheless, it premiered in Berlin in 2001.

Also in 1995, he starred as Jim Caroll in The Basketball Diaries, a life story of drugs and prostitution. Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film Romeo + Juliet, again featured DiCaprio as the male lead and 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 Marvin's Room, reuniting with Robert De Niro and appearing alongside Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton.

Superstardom and "Leo-Mania"

The move from "star" to "superstar" came when DiCaprio played Jack Dawson in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic, alongside Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater, which soon became the highest grossing film of all time and received 11 Oscars. In 1998, he made a cameo appearance in Woody Allen's satire Celebrity. That year he also starred in the dual roles of the villainous King Louis XIV and his secret, sympathetic twin brother Philippe in The Man in the Iron Mask. His popularity at the time was dubbed "Leo-mania", comparing his sudden fame and fan frenzy to that of the Beatles in the 1960s, known as Beatlemania. The Man in the Iron Mask may have benefited from Leo-Mania, considering its remarkably high worldwide box office gross (especially outside North-America) despite mediocre reviews.

What came with fame were tales in the tabloids of excesses and indulgence. Time summed up the fame superhighway and its trappings 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," DiCaprio commented, adding, "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 cult 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.

Acting acclaim

In 2002, DiCaprio starred in Gangs of New York (directed by Martin Scorsese) and Catch Me If You Can (directed by Steven Spielberg). Both films were very well received by critics. Forging a collaboration with Scorsese, the two paired again for a biopic of American aviation pioneer Howard Hughes in The Aviator, a film that scored DiCaprio a second Academy Award nomination, for Best Actor.

DiCaprio continued his run with Scorsese (some call him Scorsese's "new De Niro") in the 2006 film The Departed as Billy Costigan, a smart undercover cop in Boston. His next film was Blood Diamond, released in December 2006. 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 of English to emulate.

In 2006, the Golden Globes and Broadcast Film Critics Association nominated DiCaprio twice in the same category: Best Actor for Blood Diamond and The Departed. Also in the same year, he received two nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, a lead actor nomination for Blood Diamond and a supporting actor nomination for The Departed. He earned an Oscar nomination for lead actor in Blood Diamond and a BAFTA nod for lead actor for The Departed.

Recent work

DiCaprio starred in 2008's Body of Lies, directed by Ridley Scott and co-starring Russell Crowe, Vince Colosimo, and Golshifteh Farahani. The same year, he appeared in Revolutionary Road, an adaptation of Richard Yates' 1961 novel. The latter reunited DiCaprio with his Titanic costars Kate Winslet and Kathy Bates. DiCaprio was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for his performance.

DiCaprio will star in Shutter Island, a film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane. He will also play in the science-fiction film Inception, directed and produced

Personal life

DiCaprio dated Brazilian model Gisele B√ľndchen on and off from 2001 to 2005, and has also dated Kristen Zang. Since 2005, he has dated Israeli model Bar Refaeli. Their relationship ended in 2009. He is close friends with Tobey Maguire and Titanic and Revolutionary Road co-star Kate Winslet. He was childhood friends with the late Christopher Pettiet.

On August 5, 2008, DiCaprio's maternal grandmother, Helene Indenbirken (b. July 7, 1915), died in Oer-Erkenschwick, Germany, at the age of 93. His grandmother was an important pillar in his life; DiCaprio called her "Oma" (Grandma) and took her to some of his movie premieres. He had visited her in Germany in the last days of her life.

DiCaprio owns a home in Los Angeles and an apartment in TriBeCa, in Manhattan, New York. He bought an island in Belize where he is planning to create an eco-friendly resort, as well as an apartment in Riverhouse, an eco-friendly building overlooking the Hudson River in Manhattan.

DiCaprio has said in interviews that his favorite TV show is The Twilight Zone and he plans to make a series of movies based on episodes written by Rod Serling.