Entertainment Celebrity Just who is Leonardo DiCaprio, really?

Just who is Leonardo DiCaprio, really?

Leonardo DiCaprio
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Gilbert Grape is all grown up.

A young Leo (left) and his stepbrother.
A young Leo (left) and his stepbrother. Photo: Getty

The cherubic pre-teen who charmed us with his inimitable acting skills and charisma has skimmed over the troubled waters of adolescence and early adulthood to arrive, fully formed, on the doorstep of middle age.

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Yet, despite nearly three decades in the spotlight, the man himself remains as much of an enigma as the mysterious Gatsby he so expertly played.

A United Nations Messenger of Peace and passionate climate activist who shoots water guns and spends most of his time on super-yachts.

A romantic icon and eternal heartthrob obsessed by supermodels and notoriously averse to commitment.

And a child star who’s managed to evade controversy, maintain respect and secure an enviable, long-running career.

So who is he really? We break down the man behind the movies.

His inner circle

The private star – often distinguishable only by his signature pageboy cap – keeps close friendships to a minimum.

Fans of Titanic will be pleased to know he counts former love interest Kate Winslet amongst his inner circle.

“We laugh at the same things,” he said of Winslet in a 2013 interview.

“She never lets me take myself seriously, even if I wanted to. We have a special magic.”

In turn, Winslet has been open about her fraternal love for her former co-star and has labeled him the “love of my life”.

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Titanic days: DiCaprio with his old pal Kate Winslet. Photo: Getty

Actor Tobey Maguire is another longtime friend and DiCaprio frequently spends time with his wife and two children.

Along with Maguire, DiCaprio spent much of his younger years in a tight-knit posse of other young actors, including magician David Blaine, Entourage star Kevin Connolly and Inception actor Lukas Haas (who has also lived with DiCaprio). 

Other members of Leo’s clique include director Harmony Korine, actor Ethan Suplee and rapper Q-Tip. 

His career

With earnings totalling $39 million according to Forbes, DiCaprio is one of the rare actors able to straddle both critical darlings and big-screen blockbusters effortlessly.

Ever since his breakout role on television’s Growing Pains, stamping Leo’s name on a project is akin to winning the golden ticket – fans and accolades flock to it.

DiCaprio’s most recent efforts are a testament to this. To do The Wolf of Wall Street, he had to cut his upfront fee in order to afford the film’s $100 million budget. In return, he got an Oscar nomination and the film grossed nearly $395 million worldwide.

Leonardo DiCaprio during a climate march in New York.
DiCaprio during a climate march in New York. Photo: Getty

Similarly, The Great Gatsby grossed around $351 million at the box office. Inception earned $825 million worldwide.

His only shortcoming? An Oscar has eluded him so far despite four nominations.

Not to worry – his next shot at winning a little gold man will be as a frontiersman in 2015’s The Revenant. 

His activism

DiCaprio is perhaps the most reognisable anti-climate change crusader on the world stage right now.

Most recently, DiCaprio addressed the opening of a UN climate change summit in New York after marching on the city’s streets to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

“I am not a scientist, but I don’t need to be,” DiCaprio said in his speech. “Because the world’s scientific community has spoken, and they have given us our prognosis, if we do not act together, we will surely perish. Now is our moment for action.”

The star makes his priorities clear by driving a Prius, founding the Leonardo DiCaprio foundation to support sustainable initiatives and sitting on the board of several organisations including the World Wildlife Fund.

With his former partner Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen at the 2005 Oscars.  Photo: Getty
With his former partner Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen at the 2005 Oscars. Photo: Getty

His love life

At the 2014 Golden Globe awards, host Tina Fey welcomed DiCaprio to the stage with a vulgar dig.

“And now, like a supermodel’s vagina, let’s all give a warm welcome to Leonardo DiCaprio,” Fey said to uproarious laughter.

Unfortunately for Leo, there was little more he could do than to smile bashfully – she had a point.

Throughout his lifetime, DiCaprio has dated Victoria’s Secret models Gisele Bundchen and Erin Heatherton, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Bar Refaeli and a bevy of other catwalk beauties. He was also linked to blonde bombshell Blake Lively and Wolf costar Margot Robbie.

He was last romantically attached to 22-year-old German model Toni Garrn, whom he reportedly dated from May 2013.

Despite all this, his date to the 2014 Oscars was his mother, Irmelin. 

His hobbies

When DiCaprio was cast as perennial playboy Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of the Wall Street, commentators couldn’t help but draw comparisons between Belfort’s wild ways and DiCaprio’s own penchant for parties.

DiCaprio was quick to shoot them down.

“Please don’t compare me with this dude at all! Are you out of your mind?” he told Extra.

An internet meme inspired by DiCaprio's offscreen antics.
An internet meme inspired by DiCaprio’s relaxed offscreen antics. Photo: Supplied

Still, DiCaprio enjoys a good shindig, particularly those held on super-yachts in the south of France and featuring water guns, jet skis and copious amounts of beautiful people.

His antics regularly make popular fodder internet memes.

Not that DiCaprio takes any notice.

Despite a life spent in front of cameras, the actor remains blissfully unaware of his fame, simultaneously calm and bursting with creative energy.

“Most recently, the last few years, I feel way more comfortable than I’ve ever felt,” he told Esquire earlier this year.

“You always talk about that, and then one day you’re like: ‘If they don’t like this, well, f**k ’em‘. What can you do? It’s a resignation to life and who you are. Hey, look, I’m pretty well-formed as an adult now. I don’t have to impress anybody. You ask yourself these different questions: ‘What do I want to do?’ 

“Interesting question: ‘What do I want to do? What makes me really happy?’ I’ve learned all these things that I’m supposed to do. I know I’m supposed to be in that place and do that thing… but to really, deeply ask yourself that question — What do want to do?”

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