MOTW: Leonardo DiCaprio Biography

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
April 18th, 2013

MOTW: Leonardo DiCaprio Biography

-- Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio was born on November 11, 1974, in Hollywood, Los Angeles, to parents George and Irmelin. DiCaprio inherited Italian, German, and Russian ancestry through his parents and grandparents. Many people believe that DiCaprio was given his first name after his mother Irmelin first felt him kick while viewing a Leonardo Da Vinci painting in an Italian museum. When DiCaprio was only a year old, his parents got a divorce. Despite this, the pair had the foresight to sign DiCaprio up with a talent agent while he was in his early childhood years. After his parents split, DiCaprio mostly lived with his mother. The two moved around the city of Los Angeles frequently, living in many different neighborhoods. Due to difficult circumstances, DiCaprio's mother worked many jobs to provide an income for herself and her son.

DiCaprio's budding acting career began while he was still a student at Seeds Elementary School. Because of his parents' efforts, DiCaprio had many opportunities to act in commercial and short films. Throughout his early teenage years, DiCaprio featured in several more bit part roles in commercials and film, but it wasn't until the age of 16 that he really started to get noticed in the acting industry. DiCaprio appeared on several television shows, such as "Parenthood," "The New Lassie," "Roseanne," and "Santa Barbara," and picked up a couple of Young Artist Awards for Best Young Actor.

Following on from his television success, DiCaprio transferred his acting talent to the big screen. DiCaprio's first feature film, "Critters 3," was not shown in theaters and instead went direct to video. This initial setback forced the young actor to return to where he had success before: television sitcoms. DiCaprio played a young homeless boy on the sitcom "Growing Pains." This recurring role helped to propel him back into the spotlight, and the following year he was chosen by Robert De Niro to play the lead in "This Boy's Life." This success alongside a Hollywood icon resulted in further film roles, most notably costarring with Johnny Depp in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape." DiCaprio performance in this film was widely praised by film critics, and he picked up Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for his efforts.

The next couple of years were relatively low key for DiCaprio, but he made a name for himself again in 1996 when he played Romeo in "Romeo and Juliet." However, his most famous acting role would be the following year when he played Jack Dawson in "Titanic." The film went onto become the highest-grossing film at that time, and DiCaprio was nominated for and won several major film awards.

Following the success of "Titanic" would prove to be very difficult, however, with DiCaprio unable to reach the same heights for a few years. It wasn't until 2002 that DiCaprio's acting star began to shine again in "Catch Me If You Can." The film was considered a worldwide success, and DiCaprio picked up his third Golden Globe nomination for his part in the movie. Although "Titanic" is the film instantly linked with DiCaprio, his most major success to date actually occurred in 2004 with "The Aviator." DiCaprio played the role of Howard Hughes, a film director and aviation pioneer. Not only did the film receive favorable reviews and prove to be a huge success at the box office, but DiCaprio finally won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.

The year 2006 was particularly busy for DiCaprio, as he starred in "Blood Diamond" and "The Departed." DiCaprio received rave reviews for his roles in these films. Although DiCaprio did not feature in many films during this period, he selectively chose roles that he knew he could do well in. With only handful of film roles in the late 2000s, DiCaprio once again hit it big time in the 2010 film "Inception."

After starring in the 2012 film "Django Unchained," as Calvin Candie, a role which earned DiCaprio eight Golden Globe nominations, he announced in January 2013 that he was taking a temporary break from acting to pursue other endeavors. Throughout his film career, DiCaprio has been an outspoken environmentalist who has attempted to bring real-world issues to light. He has donated millions of dollars to charitable causes close to his heart, and this has led him to receive many environmental awards. After the Haitian earthquake in early 2010, DiCaprio donated $1 million to the relief efforts. Later that year, DiCaprio donated the same amount to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Although Leonardo DiCaprio fans may be sad to see him take time off from acting, he will appear in two films scheduled for release later in 2013, "The Great Gatsby" and "The Wolf of Wall Street." After these films are seen in theaters, no one is sure when DiCaprio's next film will be released, but it will likely not be too long before he is back doing what he does best.