CAIRO – 11 November 2017: November 11 is the birthday of Hollywood superstar and activist Leonardo DiCaprio, who turns 45 today. One of the world’s most famous actors, DiCaprio has made waves in cinema since his breakthrough role in “Titanic”, and he continues to prove his excellence.
Born in Los Angeles, California in 1975, DiCaprio’s father was a comic book artist while his mother was a secretary. The couple divorced shortly after Leonardo was born, and he was their only child. It was his parents who urged his creativity, and he saw his start in acting by the fun he had in imitating people. Still, it was a struggle for an unknown to find his way into movies, but his perseverance would eventually pay off.
He got his start in television, appearing as a guest in various series, such as
, “The New Lassie” and “Parenthood”. His foray into film came in the 1990s, where he starred in movies such as “Growing Pains” and the horror film “Critters 3”
Though humble starts, they were the stepping stones for what would truly be a titanic career. Here’s but a small sample of the many great films he’s starred in:
“This Boy’s Life” – 1993
Starring alongside the legendary Robert DeNiro, this was the film that first brought DiCaprio critical acclaim. Directed by Michael Caton-Jones and based on the real life memoir of literature professor Tobias Wolff, the film told the story of the abusive relationship between a young boy, Toby (DiCaprio), and his stepfather, Dwight (DeNiro). After Toby’s mother flees their cruel father, she falls in love with a seemingly polite and reliable mechanic, Dwight. He quickly shows his true colors after they marry, however, and Toby does what he can to stand his ground against him and one day leave.
“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” – 1993
This quirky and poignant drama by director Lasse Hallström paired Johnny Depp and DiCaprio together as brothers. Depp played the titular role, a young man who had to look after his younger, mentally disabled brother, Arnie (DiCaprio), and his morbidly obese mother. As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge, Gilbert’s job at the convenience store has not been doing so well, and things get even more complicated when he begins to have feelings for the new girl in town, Becky, who begins to help him see the wider picture outside of his bleak little town.
DiCaprio would receive his first Oscar nomination for his role as Arnie, beginning his long quest to finally claim the award.
“Titanic” – 1997
DiCaprio cannot be mentioned without also bringing up the film that propelled him into superstardom. James Cameron’s historical romance drama, based on the real-life sinking of the Titanic ship, helped turned both DiCaprio and fellow on-screen lover
into household names and icons of tragic love, also being one of the highest-grossing films of all time.
“Catch Me If You Can” – 2002
In this movie based on true events, DiCaprio takes up a more unlawful role as globe-trotting con artist Frank Abagnale Jr, who managed to forge millions of dollars in checks before he even turned 19, escaping the authorities by posing as an air pilot and doctor. Hot on his trail is FBI agent Carl Hanratty, played by Tom Hanks, who’s just as relentless in his pursuit as Frank is in his cunning.
“The Aviator” – 2004
The first of what would be a successful relationship between acclaimed director Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, “The Aviator” is a biopic on the life of billionaire pilot Howard Hughes, following his life from the early 1920s through the 1940s, where he soared to new heights and eventually fell to his lowest, as his obsessive mental illness got the better of him. While DiCaprio would be nominated for yet another Oscar award, his co-star Cate Blanchett would be awarded one instead of him. Once again, the award slipped through his fingers.
“The Departed” – 2006
DiCaprio and Scorsese would soon collaborate once again for this film, which sees DiCaprio as Billy, an undercover cop investigating a prison in South Boston, posing as a fellow criminal in order to gain access to their secrets. Meanwhile, on the reverse end is Colin Sullivan, played by Matt Damon, a cop from the same academy as Billy who serves as an informant to the Irish mobsters. His fate and Billy’s are soon intertwined, and the two must race to expose each other before their lives are forfeit.
“Inception” – 2010
Director Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” has boggled the minds of moviegoers since its release, thanks to its blurring of dream and reality. DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, a skilled thief who has a unique edge in that he knows how to steal valuable secrets from the confines of a person’s mind, though his heists have cost him everything, including his family. Cobb is given a chance to use his abilities for good by one of the men he’s stolen from if he can be asked to plant something in his subconscious. Yet in the world of the subconscious, Cobb discovers an insidious enemy.
“The Great Gatsby” – 2013
Based on the classic novel by author
F. Scott Fitzgerald
, director Baz Luhrmann casts DiCaprio in the role of rich playboy Jay Gatsby, who invites his neighbor, writer Nick Carraway, played by DiCaprio’s real life friend, famous actor Tobey Maguire, to get a taste of the high life. Soon enough, Nick starts to notice that there’s trouble in paradise.
“The Wolf of Wall Street” – 2013
Returning to Scorsese once again, DiCaprio starred alongside Jonah Hill and
, portraying the real life story of Jordan Belfort, a successful stock-broker whose path to the top was built on corruption, lies and drug abuse, which eventually all comes toppling down for him. Once again, DiCaprio was only nominated for the Oscar award, but it wouldn’t be along until he would finally see it in his grasp…
“The Revenant” – 2015
…Thanks to director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ‘The Revenant’, DiCaprio’s stunning portrayal of Hugh Glass, a frontiersman in the 1820s who is mauled by a bear and left to die in the harsh American wilderness finally saw him win his first Oscar award.