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Feature: The Departed

Leonardo DiCaprio We get reacquainted with the star of Martin Scorsese’s upcoming thriller adaptation

Gone are the floppy blonde locks and cherubic good looks that won Leonardo DiCaprio a legion of young fans when he was a fresh-faced young actor turning up in TV shows like Parenthood, Santa Barbara and Roseanne. In their place is now an older and wiser face, one that shows the considerable experience of a man who has grown and matured in front of an audience. DiCaprio is now a major player in Hollywood, not only as an in-demand actor but also as a shrewd businessman. He has producer credits on several high profile films, including The Assassination of Richard Nixon and The Aviator, and is involved in many forthcoming projects both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.

Yep, Leonardo – so called because his mother Irmalin said she felt her unborn son kick while she was enjoying a Da Vinci painting – has come a long way since his first assignment for a milk commercial. Back then he was just a kid, but was still extremely creative from an early age and started to audition for roles in 1988 at the age of 14. After his first regular gig – a whole three episodes of the TV show Parenthood – he made the big leap to the big screen by starring in B-movie extravaganza Critters III. The gamble paid off, as within a matter of months he was invited to become a regular cast member on hit ABC show Growing Pains.

In 1992, at the age of 18, Leo got the movie break he had been working so hard for. Director Michael Caton-Jones cast him in the highly coveted role of Tobias Wolff in the adaptation of Wolff’s best selling novel This Boy’s Life. Leo’s astounding performance as the troubled lad struggling to cope with his mother’s abusive boyfriend (a terrifying Robert De Niro) certainly made the bigwigs of the industry sit up and take notice. It was enough to persuade Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom to give DiCaprio the lead of mentally disabled Arnie in family drama What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. The actor’s mesmerizing performance quite rightly earned him a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination, and propelled him to the top of Hollywood’s young A-list.

Other memorable roles quickly followed, including a Western gunslinger in The Quick and the Dead, doomed poet Arthur Rimbaud in Total Eclipse, star-crossed lover Romeo in Baz Luhrmann’s fabulous adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and a criminal delinquent in Marvin’s Room. All were excellent, and all showcased his tremendous natural talent. In 1996, however, Leo signed on to the film project that would bring him superstardom on a global scale – James Cameron’s epic disaster romance Titanic. Although DiCaprio was initially unsure about taking on the role of Jack Dawson, who falls for Kate Winslet’s Rose on the ill-fated luxury liner, he was eventually persuaded by Cameron to come on board – turning down the role of Dirk Diggler in porn comedy Boogie Nights in the process. That choice came to fruition two years later, when Titanic held the number one box office slot for most of 1998 and remains top of the international all-time box office.

Read the full feature and much more about the upcoming movies in the next six months in
Film Review (Aug)

Photo © Warner Bros
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (Aug), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Aug)
#673, August 2006
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