Leonardo DiCaprio - biography

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio (/dɨˈkæpri./; born November 11, 1974)[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

Early life and family

DiCaprio, an only child, was born in Los Angeles, California. His mother, Irmelin (née Indenbirken), is a German-born former legal secretary, and his father, George DiCaprio, is an underground comic artist and producer/distributor of comic books.[4] DiCaprio's mother moved from Oer-Erkenschwick at the Ruhr, Germany, to the U.S. during the 1950s. DiCaprio's father is of half Italian (from the Naples area) and half German descent (from Bavaria), and is a fourth-generation American.[1][5][6] DiCaprio's maternal grandmother, Helene Indenbirken (1915–2008),[7] who was born Yelena Smirnova, was a Russian immigrant to Germany.[8]

DiCaprio's parents met while attending college and subsequently moved to Los Angeles.[1] 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.[9] DiCaprio was raised Catholic.[10][11]

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.[1] 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.

Career Early career

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,[12] DiCaprio followed his older stepbrother Adam Farrar into television commercials, landing an ad for Matchbox cars at 14.[12] 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.

1991–95

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."[13] Released in 1991, the movie went direct-to-video.[13] 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.[12]

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.[13] Budgeted at US$11.0 million,[14] 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."[15]

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.[16] 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.[17] 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."[18] Afterwards 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 in the role of Rimbaud, who had died during pre-production on the project.[19] A minor arthouse success, the film grossed US$0.34 million throughout its domestic theatrical run.[20]

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.[12] When Robb decided to expand the black-and-white film to feature length however, DiCaprio and Maguire obtained its blocking, arguing that they never intended to make it a theatrical release as it would have commercial value thanks to their stardom.[12] Nevertheless, 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.

1996–2001

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.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23] 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."[23]

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.[24] 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,[25] 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."[26] 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 wh

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