He’s arguably one of the best actors to ever appear on the big screen, and in this, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about Leonardo Dicaprio.
Related: Check out Leo’s best movies!
1. He started off in television commercials
It’s fair to say that Leo was born to become an actor. He loved imitating people and as a child, he already had the dream of becoming an actor, which appeared to be easier than his second choice, a marine biologist.
DiCaprio’s parents split up when he was just one year old, which caused the young Leo to move around together with his mother frequently around Los Angeles.
Apart from moving, his mother brought her son to auditions in his young teens as well, including for television commercials. He landed his “first role” at age 14 in a commercial for Matchbox cars by Mattel.
Other roles were for Kraft Foods, Apple Jacks, and the one seen below, Bubble Yum (second clip).
This wasn’t exactly playing the lead in epic movies such as “The Revenant,” “Shutter Island,” or “Django Unchained,” isn’t it?
Well, you got to start somewhere, and so did Leo!
2. He was named after a polymath from the Renaissance
On a trip to Italy, Leo’s mother was pregnant and she felt her baby kicking for the first time when visiting the Uffizi Museum in Florence. This happened while she was watching a painting by Leonardo da Vinci. That’s how Leonardo DiCaprio got his name.
While we can’t describe Leo directly as being a polymath, he’s one of the best in his chosen field. Leonardo da Vinci was good in just about any field he showed interest in and naming your baby after such amazing talent is a pretty good idea.
There are only 2 paintings of da Vinci in the Uffizi, so she must have been watching either the “Adoration of the Magi,” a work that da Vinci never completed, or “The Annunciation,” in which an angel named Gabriel mentions to Virgin Mary that she would miraculously give birth to a son.
This isn’t a wild guess and we’re pretty positive she was watching the latter of the two paintings!
3. These are the names he could have gotten instead
So Leo got his name from his mother because she was watching a painting by Leonardo da Vinci. This could have been multiple other artists with paintings on display in the Uffizi Museum in Florence though.
Some possibilities were:
- Sandro DiCaprio (Sandro Botticelli)
- Raphael DiCaprio (Raphael Sanzio)
- Michelangelo DiCaprio (Michelangelo Buonarroti)
- Rembrandt DiCaprio
- Titian DiCaprio (Tiziano Vecelli)
Let’s just say that Leonardo probably sounds the best of all these choices, isn’t that right?
4. He was advised to change his name
After the initial television commercial roles and a role starring as “Glen” in 2 episodes of the family television program “The New Lassie,” he had some difficulty landing new roles.
Apparently, he did about 100 auditions without landing a single role! It was his father who had to encourage him to keep going because Leo seriously considered quitting acting in the later 1980s because of this. (and thank God he didn’t!)
One of the weirdest facts about Leonardo DiCaprio is that he also had difficulty finding an agent because of his foreign-sounding name. One agent even suggested he change his name to a more American-sounding name such as “Lenny Williams,” which would appeal to the American audience more.
One of the smartest decisions in his life was to refuse this ridiculous offer and continue to go at it until the roles came. This is a similar story to Morgan Freeman, who also got rejected more than he hoped for early on in his career but refused to give up and ended up making loads of amazing movies.
And eventually, the roles came, abundantly!
5. Leo was part of a click that chased girls
The mid-1990s were amazing times for the young Leonardo DiCaprio. He was not famous enough yet to be chased around by cameras everywhere, but he was famous enough to be extremely popular with the opposite sex.
Obviously, his good looks and enigmatic charisma had something to do with that as well…
He also hung out with the most popular group in town which fittingly called itself the “P*ssy Posse.” We don’t believe we need to explain how the group got its name.
Apart from Leo, the group consisted of Tobey Maguire, Lukas Haas, Kevin Connelly, Harmony Korine, and magician David Blaine.
Those were the days, weren’t they Leo?
6. Robert de Niro clearly saw his talent
When Leo was auditioning for the 1993 autobiographical movie ‘This Boy’s Life,” he was aiming to get the role of Tobias Wolff, the main character in the movie.
This was a major part because he would be playing the stepson of Robert de Niro and Ellen Barkin as his mother.
The problem? About 400 young boys were auditioning for this one part!
This must have been one of the biggest boosts in his early career, but it was Robert de Niro himself who handpicked Leo to play the role. An amazing achievement and one of his biggest “victories” as a young actor.
7. The movie that catapulted Leo to stardom grossed $2.1 billion USD
And which movie would that be?
Yes, that’s right, 1997, $200 million blockbuster Titanic obviously!
It was the most expensive movie ever made at that moment as it cost a whopping $200 million to produce. The result was amazing though as it grossed $2.1 billion in box-office receipts worldwide.
Leo initially wasn’t too sure if he would be able to play the role. It was director James Cameron who had to convince him as he absolutely believed in his acting ability.
On top of that, Leo already had a role that year in the movie “Boogie Nights,” which he subsequently canceled to play the lead together with Kate Winslet in the most epic movie of his career at that point.
The movie wasn’t just a major success, it also catapulted Leo into the realm of superstardom, a place he has stayed in ever since.
8. Leo suffers from a very annoying disorder
When he decided to accept to play the role of Howard Hughes in the biopic movie “The Aviator,” (2004) he didn’t just accept it because he liked the script so much. There was a deeper connection between Leo and the main character in the movie.
And it’s not a pleasant one!
Howard Hughes was known to suffer from a severe case of “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,” a disorder in which the person suffers from an obsession to do irrational things. If you saw this movie, you’ll know how annoying this can actually become if it takes on extreme forms.
Leo once admitted that he suffers from a similar type of disorder. He sometimes feels the urge to walk through a doorway several times or feels it’s needed to step on every gum stain he sees (and no, this doesn’t have anything to do with his commercial for Bubble Yum!)
In Leo’s case, this doesn’t take the extreme form of Howard Hughes though, so there’s no fear that this disorder will drive him into madness one day. he appears to have it under control and he teaches his mind not to fall victim to irrational behavior.
Now that’s a sigh of relief, isn’t it?
9. Leo actually got an award for “Worst Actor”
We can all agree that Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the best actors ever. Just about all of his movies have been a huge success, which remarkably includes a movie that received negative reviews called “The Beach” (2000).
With a filming budget of USD 50 million, it grossed about triple this amount in box-office receipts worldwide, which can be considered a pretty big success.
Critics didn’t feel the same way though. In this movie, Leo played an American backpacker who was looking for an adventurous lifestyle somewhere on a beach in Thailand.
They claimed that Leo “failed to provide the depth needed to make the character believable” and that it was too much of the American Everyman.”
Because of this, he received Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor the previous year in 2001.
Oh well, things like that happen!
10. His ultimate recognition came in 2015
As if it was still needed by this time for Leo to be recognized as an amazing actor, he still must have felt pretty good about winning his first Oscar back in 2015.
He finally won for his performance in “The Revenant” in which he portrays the character Hugh Glass, a man living at the frontier back in 1823.
One of the most interesting facts about Leonardo DiCaprio is that he had been nominated for an Academy Award 5 times before actually winning in 2015.
His previous (and one later) nominations, which he all lost, were for his part in these movies:
- What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) – Best Supporting Actor
- The Aviator (2004) – Best Actor
- Blood Diamond (2005) – Best Actor
- The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Best Picture / Best Actor
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) – Best Actor)
His losing streak remains remarkable and we’ll just assume that he has been unlucky to have been on the opposite end of other amazing performances because, in our opinion, he definitely deserved a few more Oscars from this list!
Quick facts about Leonardo Dicaprio
11. Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio was born on November 11, 1974, at 2:47 am, in Los Angeles California.
12. His zodiac birth chart reveals that his sun sign is Scorpio, his moon in Libra, and his ascendant in Libra as well.
13. His mother’s name is Irmelin Indenbirken, a legal secretary. She’s of German and Russian descent. Leo’s maternal grandfather was German and his maternal grandmother was a German-born Russian.
14. Because of his Russian ancestry, he referred to himself as “half-Russian” in an interview in Russia and mentioned he has 2 Russian grandparents.
15. Leo’s father’s name is George DiCaprio, a distributor of comic books and writer who is of Italian and German descent.
16. After his parents divorced, Leo moved around Los Angeles with his mother. He lived in neighborhoods such as Echo Park and Los Feliz.
17. Leo went to the Seeds Elementary School, the John Marshall High School, and the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies. He claimed that he hated public school.
18. Leo started acting regularly on television in the early 1990s with roles in “The Outsiders,” “Santa Barbara,” and “Parenthood.”
19. After the major success of the movie Titanic in the late 1990s, Leo mentioned that “I will never reach that state of popularity again, and I don’t expect to. It’s not something I’m going to try to achieve either.”
20. The erratic popularity Leo suffered from had its own name and was referred to as “Leo-Mania.”
21. The Leo-Mania apparently spread all over the world, even in places like Afghanistan! When young men wanted to have the same haircut as Leo in the movie, the Taliban effectively banned this type of hairstyle.
22. Kate Winslet didn’t feel too nervous about being naked in front of Leo in the Titanic movie. To “break the ice,” the moment she met him she reportedly flashed him. We tend to believe that’s a great icebreaker!
23. He was supposed to play the lead role of the psychopath in “American Psycho,” but didn’t like the direction that the movie was going in. He decided to take the part in “The Beach” (2000) instead.
24. Leo has several statues in the various Madame Tussauds Museums all over the world, so if you want to see a real-size wax statue of the actor, you can!
25. Leo does whatever he can to spread awareness of the environment. This includes his production of informative documentaries and traveling across the globe to spread the word.
26. One of the most remarkable attempts to spread awareness for the environment is when he bought a 104-acre island off the coast of Belize in an attempt to build an eco-friendly resort and solve the plague of overfishing and an eroding coastline.
27. When he was shooting the movie “Blood Diamond” in South Africa, Leo adopted a little South African girl as he worked with orphans at SOS Children’s Villages. he won’t be actually raising the child but will sponsor her entire future.
28. In the movie “Django Unchained,” Leo received a standing ovation when he accidentally cut his hand in a dramatic dinner table scene and didn’t stop. He looked briefly at his hand during the scene, saw he was bleeding, and simply continued. Watch this amazing scene (which was used in the movie) below:
29. To prepare for his Oscar-winning role as Hugh Glass, Leo took extreme measures. He slept in an animal carcass, ate raw bison liver, and had to prepare to shoot in temperatures of -25 degrees Celcius.
30. One of his first films called “The Basketball Diaries” turned 25 on April 21, 2020. It just shows how far his career has really become since he was only having “dreams” of making it big back then.