Leonardo DiCaprio is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars and a keen environmentalist.
Born in Hollywood on November11th 1974, Leonardo was an only child whose parents divorced when he was a baby. His mother signed her young son up with a talent agent and, aged five, Leonardo made his debut on a popular children’s television show before being removed for being too disruptive!
DiCaprio attended the John Marshall High School and the Centre for Enriched Studies but was, by his own admission, never destined for a career in academia (he is, however, fluent in German -DiCaprio spent a part of his childhood there with his maternal grandparents).
When he was 14 he signed to an agency and popped-up in a Matchbox cars commercial before landing acting roles in a few short-lived TV shows, most notably ‘Parenthood’ where he met Tobey Maguire and nominated for the ‘Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor.’
DiCaprio made his movie debut in 1991 with direct-to-video horror ‘Critters 3’ which indirectly led to a regular role in TV’s ‘Growing Pains’. Stardom beckoned when he was picked by Robert de Niro to play the lead in ‘This Boy’s Life’ (1993).
In the same year DiCaprio teamed up with Johnny Depp to play a teenager with learning difficulties in ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?’ The film was a huge success and earned DiCaprio an Academy Award nomination.1995’s ‘The Quick and the Dead’ wasn’t met with such favour, DiCaprio was a controversial choice from the off as Sony weren’t convinced by his suitability for the role so co-star Sharon Stone paid the young actor out of her own pocket.
In the same year DiCaprio starred in the relatively successful ‘Total Eclipse’ playing poet Arthur Rimbaud opposite David Thewlis’ Paul Verlaine. A fictionalised, at times, graphic account of their homosexual relationship DiCaprio was lucky to get the part having been brought in to replace River Phoenix who’d died during pre-production.
Also in 1995 was Jim Carroll biopic ‘The Basketball Diaries’ and ‘Don’s Plum’ which wasn’t released until 2001 after DiCaprio and co-star Toby Maguire attempted to get the film blocked by court order. Also starring Kevin Connolly, ‘Don’s Plum’ is a largely improvised movie that, DiCaprio and Maguire claim, was a project for/by an aspiring film director and not intended for theatrical release. Ironically, its DiCaprio’s most critically acclaimed effort of that year.