Heartthrob. Environmentalist. Winner of an Academy Award (Finally). Leonardo DiCaprio has carved up an excellent career in television and movies since first appearing on screen in 1979, rocketing to international recognition after playing Jack in the epic romance Titanic. Since then, he has received critical acclaim for films such as Gangs of New York, The Aviator, and The Revenant, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Here are facts about Leonardo DiCaprio that you probably didn’t know.
Facts about Leonardo DiCaprio
1. You Have No Idea Who Jack Is. Titanic’s studios wanted Matthew McConaughey to play Jack, but director James Cameron insisted on Leonardo DiCaprio instead.
2. Bananas, Bananas, Bananas, Bananas, Bananas. When photos of Leonardo DiCaprio posing with bananas and in a variety of other bizarre poses surfaced in 2014, the internet exploded. David LaChappelle, a famous photographer known for his explicit pictures, shot the photos in 1995 when Leo wasn’t quite the superstar he is now (and a lawsuit against Rihanna).
“I think Leo DiCaprio is still upset about posing with those bananas,” LaChappelle said of the photographs, which is certainly correct.
3. A Difficult Start. DiCaprio had his first appearance on air in the children’s television show Romper Room, but he was fired because he was too disruptive.
4. Man of Vitruvian. DiCaprio was named after the artist Leonardo da Vinci when his pregnant mother first felt him kick while standing in front of one of da Vinci’s works. It’s a good thing she wasn’t in front of a Warhol. Andy DiCaprio doesn’t have the same ring to it as Leonardo DiCaprio.
5. The Unique. Leonardo DiCaprio was reared by his single mother, a German national who worked as a legal secretary, as an only child.
6. Initiated. Leonardo DiCaprio was at the center of all casting considerations for the film Inception. “We were just trying to cast the greatest people I could find for those positions, who felt right around Leo,” Nolan says of casting Leonardo DiCaprio for the character of Cobb.
7. Who You Hang Out With. Leonardo DiCaprio has a reputation for hanging out with models, but it hasn’t always worked out for him. At a party in 2005, a model called Aretha Wilson slapped him in the face with a broken bottle, wounding him. In 2010, she pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison.
8. Bork Irmelin Indenbirken was DiCaprio’s mother’s name, and it sounds just like something the Muppets’ Swedish Chef would say. George was his father’s name. That isn’t nearly as amusing.
9. I’m sorry, George, but I did something wrong. His agency advised him to change his name to Lenny Williams to sound “more American” when he first began out as an actor. Because John Steinbeck had already damaged the name Lenny for everyone, he sensibly declined.
10. Vibrations That Aren’t So Good. Mark Wahlberg and Leonardo DiCaprio did not get along when they first met on the set of The Basketball Diaries in 1995, despite the fact that he is now one of his closest friends.
11. Constipation. With his work in 1994’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, DiCaprio became the seventh youngest actor to ever be nominated for an Academy Award. However, DiCaprio would have to wait nearly two decades to receive the golden trophy.
12. Make a reservation! In 1998, DiCaprio gave the Los Feliz Library, which was built on the location of his childhood home, a room full of computers and equipment.
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13. Not Quite Right. DiCaprio was supposed to play Alexander the Great in an epic directed by Baz Luhrmann, who worked with him on Romeo + Juliet and The Great Gatsby, in the early 2000s. Nicole Kidman would have also appeared in the film. In 2004, however, Oliver Stone’s Colin Farrell vehicle Alexander was released, proving that no one wants to watch a three-hour film about Alexander the Great.
14. The Posse. In his early twenties, DiCaprio hung out with a crew that included magician David Blaine, actor Tobey Maguire, and writer/director Harmony Korine. The group was dubbed the “[nickname for female genitalia] Posse,” and their escapades were notably chronicled in writer Nancy Jo Sales’ New York magazine article about the actor.
15. Perhaps Next Time. Inglourious Basterds director Quentin Tarantino wanted DiCaprio to play Nazi Colonel Landa, but DiCaprio declined, and the job went to Christoph Waltz.
16. Is It Worth It? Sharon Stone was so desperate to work with Leonardo DiCaprio that she paid for his entire salary in the 1995 film The Quick and the Dead. Unfortunately for her, the film was a flop.
17. A Useful Skill. Thell Reed, a fast-draw expert who has also trained Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Val Kilmer, and Russell Crowe, taught DiCaprio how to shoot a gun.
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18. A Difficult Web. DiCaprio was also considered for the role of Spider-titular Man’s superhero (2002). Tobey Maguire, a boyhood buddy, was cast in the part instead.
19. Adoption of Orphans. DiCaprio “adopted” a South African infant girl he met at an orphanage while filming Blood Diamond in South Africa. He writes her a check once a month and calls her on a regular basis.
20. The Iceberg’s Tip. From 2002 to 2005, Leonardo DiCaprio dated supermodel Gisele Bundchen for three years, forcing Tom Brady to win five Super Bowl titles to compensate.