Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Leonardo Dicaprio

Nice Nice Nice Back to index Until November '97, Leonardo DiCaprio was still living with his mother in Los Angeles. Two months later, a few days before New Year's Eve, he loaded about a dozen pals onto a private jet and flew them down to a waterfront mansion he had rented in chic South Beach. And the partying began. But something happened between the end of life-with-mom and the beginning of life-as-The-Man: The most expensive movie ever made was released, beginning a bravura run as the all-time box-office champ. Titanichas made a DiCaprio virtually unsinkable superstar in Hollywood. Funny, he doesn't act much like a superstar. While many actors in their early-20's affect a hip world-weariness, DiCaprio is more like the gangly guy in study hall who gleefully mimics the teachers, always travels with his good buddies and teases the cute girls. Sure, nowadays DiCaprio hangs with models like Helena Christensen and Amber Valletta and casually ponies up $5,000 (as he did in early '98 to lunch with President Clinton in New York), but his motto is still "all hands on deck" when he unpacks his Sony Play Station. This is a guy who tormented reptile-phobes on the Titaniccrew with Blizz, his pet bearded-dragon lizard. Oh, DiCaprio can do "troubled youth" -- indeed, before Titanic,such roles were his specialty, including his critically-lauded turns in This Boy's Life,What's Eating Gilbert Grape?and The Basketball Diaries.But, refreshingly, he doesn't complain about the pressures of fame, his childhood, his long-divorced and formerly hard-partying parents. For one thing, he's never had much incentive to get too rebellious. "Whatever I did would be something they've already done," he told a Scottish newspaper. "I mean, my dad would welcome it if I got a nose ring." DiCaprio showed his taste for art early on: Leo earned his name when he gave a sizable in-utero kick as his German-born mother, Irmelin, was gazing at a Leonardo da Vinci painting. Growing up in one of Hollywood's rough neighborhoods, his first brush with show biz came as a guest kid on Romper Room,but it took his stepbrother's Golden Grahams commercial (and the accompanying hefty paycheck) to motivate DiCaprio to try acting. The untrained youngster attended scores of auditions -- and landed an occasional commercial. Then, at 16, he won a regular part as the sanitized street urchin taken in by the saccharine Seavers on Growing Pains.DiCaprio gained highly visible experience and a valuable lesson: "I got to know what I don't want to do," he has said. "I had these lame lines. I couldn't bear it, actually. Everyone was bright and chipper." There was nothing too chipper about the role he played in '93, as an abused child of the '50s in This Boy's Life.The movie disappeared quickly, but DiCaprio's performance opposite Robert De Niro attracted critical kudos. DiCaprio garnered more praise later that year when, at the age of 19, he played Johnny Depp's spirited, retarded brother in What's Eating Gilbert Grape?,a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination and a devoted fan base. Screenwriter William Goldman remarked: "Please don't let anything bad ever happen to Leonardo DiCaprio." So far, not much has. The Quick and the Deadwas lethal at the box office in '95, but DiCaprio somehow walked away from the gun-slinging mess with rave reviews. Same thing happened with The Basketball Diaries: It clanked off the box-office rim in '96, but DiCaprio got all-star notices as a young poet who shoots hoops and heroin. That pattern began to change with William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet: the film performed solidly in the U.S. and did even better internationally, andDiCaprio (and co-star Claire Danes) got, you guessed it, loving tributes. With Titanic, the actor's sizable talent was finally matched with a big budget and meaty script, producing a blockbuster movie and launching DiCaprio into superstardom. But big budget, big-time superstardom isn't everything, at least not to DiCaprio. "After the whole experience," he told Vanity Fair,"I know it's reallynot my cup of tea -- all respect to (director) Jim (Cameron) and the actors who do that type of thing." Indeed, although DiCaprio graced big screens in 1998: playing good and evil twins in the unintentionally campy The Man in the Iron Maskand a hounded, imperious star in Woody Allen's Celebrity,DiCaprio's mainly loafed -- and, yes, lived it up -- in Titanic's wake. Always one to share the wealth, that partying has been with everyone from DiCaprio's longtime pals to supermodels to his onetime girlfriend, model and Nicolas Cage ex Kristin Zang. As he finally made his next move (post-apocalyptic film, The Beach,) DiCaprio's price tag soared, meaning that in Hollywood's eyes, DiCaprio's slender shoulders look plenty broad to carry a movie. So even if DiCaprio acts like an adolescent free spirit, it's not quite the role he was born to play. "He'll be the first to tell you," co-star Billy Zane told PEOPLE, "that we made a man out of him." And the screaming fans couldn't be happier. From Books in Film: Recent Releases

[$phototitle1 IS UNDEFINED!!!]

[$phototitle2 IS UNDEFINED!!!]

[$phototitle3 IS UNDEFINED!!!]