ByVaria Fedko-Blake, writer at
Staff Writer at Moviepilot! [email protected] Twitter: @vfedkoblake
Varia Fedko-Blake

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Leonardo DiCaprio spawned from very humble beginnings and has come a very long way indeed since his first forays into the acting world in bubblegum and Kraft Cheese commercials.

Today, he is one of the most respected actors in the world and one of the most notorious bachelors on the Hollywood scene. From pulling at our heart-strings as teen heart-throb in Romeo + Juliet, to dazzling us with his Jack Dawson charm in Titanic, to gracing our screens as an Oscar-nominated star of blockbusters such as The Wolf of Wall Street, we continue to respect him immensely for his art.

Let's take a look at his early appearances and document some of his most memorable roles that made him into the wonderful man that he is today:

Early career

DiCaprio began his acting career as a child actor on television commercials. Take a look at this Kraft Cheese advert that I managed to dig up:

Even back then, you can tell that DiCaprio was destined for great things. Oozing confidence and sporting his usual cheeky mannerisms, even so early on, we can recognize certain characteristics that he is known for today.

As he continued to gain recognition in television, particularly in the comedy series Growing Pains, he caught the eye of critics and went on play roles in a series of breakthrough performances. His first movie debut was in Critters 3 in 1991, a tongue-in-cheek horror series that really harked back to The Gremlins (1984).

Take a look at him in the trailer and witness his first foray into the world of big boy acting:

Teenage Years

As he gained more experience, DiCaprio proved he was indeed astonishing as a teenage actor. He starred in This Boy's Life alongside the legendary Robert De Niro, and by the age of 19, he had already earned his very first Oscar nomination in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, impressing Hollywood and international critics worldwide and marking him out as a bonafide star. Check him out in the trailer:

In his role alongside Johnny Depp, he brought to life Arnie, a troubled teenage with learning disabilities. According to earlier interviews, back then Leo was glad that he did not take the most respected award in the acting world home. Speaking last year, he admitted:

"All I remember is being paralyzed with fear that I'd have to actually get up on that stage because somebody told me a billion people watch that show. And that's the only thing that I really remember."

The Rise of the Heart-Throb

Yet, DiCaprio's defining roles came later and by starring in Baz Lutherman's Romeo & Juliet in 1996, suddenly he was catapulted into stardom, much to the joy and ear-piercing shrieks of adoring female fans. With a face of angel and the defined jawline of Adonis, he was the epitome of all of our hopes and dreams.

The following year, his sex idol status was furthered even more when he came face to face with a floating iceberg. His role of Jack Dawson in James Cameron's epic Titanic confirmed him as a household name in Hollywood, and to this day, it is still his most widely recognized movie:

As he had already been named one of People's '50 Most Beautiful People' by the end of the 1990s, I'm sure I was only one of millions whose teenage heart he stole and drove to absolute hysteria...

Indeed, "Leo-mania" struck and turned into the worldwide superstar that he is still today. For the young star, this was exhilarating, as well as problematic. The movie had cemented him in the typecast of a heroic lover and in turn, this forced him to be more selective about the roles he took on. Thankfully, his rich performances in Catch Me If You Can and Gangs of New York marked him out as much, much more than a one-trick pony.

Indeed, the actor's choices have been a deciding factor in his success. He even admitted this himself, saying:

"The choices I've made have simply been because they've been the best possible films in front of me. That's why I've done them. I haven't purposely chosen to become widely known."

Critical acclaim

Having forged a wonderful collaboration with director Martin Scorsese on Gangs of New York, DiCaprio went on to portray aviation pioneer Howard Hughes in The Aviator, receiving a Golden Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his effort.

Further earning his third Academy Award nomination for Blood Diamond and earning a Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor for The Departed, he was well on his way to becoming one of the most well respected actors in Hollywood.

Hollywood superstar

Over the last decade, amongst other titles, DiCaprio has continued to star in award-winning blockbusters, ranging from psychological thrillers such as Shutter Island, to science fiction flicks like Inception, biopics such as J. Edgar and even the Quentin Tarantino western Django Unchained.

Yet, just when we thought we couldn't take in any more of Leo's glory, he partnered up with Baz Luhrmann once again, starring in the champagne and fireworks extravaganza that was the big screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Check him out in a whirlwind of maddening debauchery and bright lights as Jay Gatsby in the trailer:

And just when we thought that he not top his iconic performance, he went and did just that in his fifth collaboration with Scorsese in The Wolf of Wall Street, earning him a FOURTH Academy Award nomination for acting!

Indeed, today, DiCaprio is every inch the leading man but the question remains: WHY has he famously never won an Oscar to this day? Personally, I am quite tired of seeing his 'loser' face...

After all, as a Hollywood actor who began as a child actor in cheesy commercials, Leonardo DiCaprio is now Hollywood royalty. This, he will remain to be for many years to come and his unforgettable performances are a mark that his talent sees no boundaries.

Leo, we love you! Even if your current facial hair has clearly reached crisis point...


What do you think of Leo's beard?



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