Leonardo Di Caprio biography

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Leonardo Di Caprio biography

Actor. Born Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio, on November 11, 1974, in Hollywood, California, to George, a comic book creator and distributor, and Irmelin (née Idenbirkin), a legal secretary. His parents separated when he was still an infant, and his father later remarried. Leonardo attended John Marshall High School in Los Feliz, California, although his education there was cut short after he began acting full time. He eventually received a high school diploma after being taught at home.
Banking on his babyface and wholesome, all-American good looks, DiCaprio’s mother began taking him to auditions for television commercials at the age of 13. He signed with an agent at the age of 14, and worked in various commercials and educational films, including Mickey’s Safety Club and How to Deal With a Parent Who Takes Drugs. He made several television appearances before being cast, in 1990, as Garry Buckman in the short-lived television version of Parenthood (which also featured the then-unknown actress Thora Birch). His big break came when he was cast (from 1991-92) as a homeless teen in the popular television series Growing Pains. During his appearance on the show, DiCaprio made his film debut in the forgettable Critters 3 (1991), then went on to appear in the Drew Barrymore vehicle Poison Ivy (1992). With his substantial earnings DiCaprio bought his mother a house, and he continued to live with her until he was 21, after which he moved into his own home. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993)—directed by Lasse Hallström and starring Johnny Depp—featured DiCaprio as the autistic younger brother of the title character, and earned him Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actor. In addition to these honors, DiCaprio won a Best Supporting Actor Award from the National Board of Review for his performance. His success in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? landed him a lead role opposite Robert De Niro and Ellen Barkin in the 1993 drama This Boy’s Life, in which he played the delinquent teenage son of an alcoholic stepfather. The Basketball Diaries (1995) featured DiCaprio in his darkest role to date, playing a street-smart, drug-addicted high school basketball player. By 1996, when DiCaprio appeared opposite Claire Danes in the modernized and notably violent Shakespearean romance Romeo + Juliet, his on-screen persona as the boy on the wrong side of the tracks was firmly established.

He followed this high-profile feature with another teenage delinquent role starring alongside Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton in the critically acclaimed Marvin’s Room (1996). DiCaprio then starred in his most well known role to date, as the wayward bohemian artist, Jack Dawson, in the mega-blockbuster Titanic (1997). The special effects-laden Titanic, written and directed by James Cameron, cost close to $200 million to produce and featured Kate Winslet in the costarring (and Oscar-nominated) role as DiCaprio’s love interest, Rose DeWitt. But it was largely due to DiCaprio’s presence in the film—most of his fans were lovesick young girls who paid to see the movie numerous times—that Titanic became the highest grossing film ever, having pulled in over $400 million at the box office by Oscar time. With 12 nominations, Titanic garnered 11 Academy Awards—more than any film in history besides Ben-Hur (1959). Although DiCaprio himself was not nominated (and consequently dodged attendance at that year’s Oscar ceremony), he suddenly became the most sought-after actor in Hollywood and his asking price per film shot to $20 million. Following the tremendous success of Titanic, however, DiCaprio developed a reputation for heavy partying, rather than taking advantage of his newfound superstardom. The Man in the Iron Mask was released in 1998, and starred DiCaprio in a well-received dual role as King Louis XIV and his doppelgänger Philippe, though it met with decidedly less fanfare than his previous film. He appeared next in Woody Allen’s star-laden Celebrity (1998), as a spoiled movie star. The Beach (2000) was directed by Danny Boyle, and starred DiCaprio as a floundering young man whose lack of ties to civilization lead him to the jungles of Asia in search of a utopian beach. DiCaprio is slated to appear next in Martin Scorsese’s period drama, The Gangs of New York (2001), costarring Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis. He is also signed to star in Catch Me If You Can, a drama about the youngest criminal to ever land on the F.B.I.’s 10-most-wanted list. DiCaprio dated model Kristen Zang off and on from 1996-1998, after which he briefly dated model Vanessa Hayden. In early 2000, he began dating Brazilian supermodel Gisčle Bündchen.

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