Leonardo DiCaprio’s career began at a young age. Born in Los Angeles on November 11, 1974, Leo was one year old when his father George left the family, so it was up to his mother Irmelin to raise him and foster his emerging talents.
She found him an agent and at age 14 he snagged his first onscreen roles in a commercial for Matchbox cars. By 1990, Leo had graduated from shilling products to popping up in TV shows, ranging from “The New Lassie” to “Parenthood.” He made his cinematic debut in a schlocky horror movie, “Critters 3.” But it was “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” that really put Leo on the map.
He followed it up with the even darker coming-of-age drama “The Basketball Diaries,” and played one of the titular star-crossed lovers in Baz Luhrmann’s punk-rock adaptation of “Romeo + Juliet.” Leo wasn’t Cameron’s first choice to play the hunky Jack Dawson in “Titanic,” but the three-hour epic became a global phenomenon. Leo also became a bona fide heartthrob but was frustrated with his new image.
In 2002, Leo began his long relationship with Martin Scorsese by starring in “Gangs of New York,” the first of five films the two made together, that have collectively earned 31 Oscar nominations and grossed more than $1.3 billion. For Steven Spielberg, Leo played con-man Frank Abagnale in the bouncy biopic “Catch Me If You Can,” And he reunited with Kate Winslet for Sam Mendes’ “Revolutionary Road.”
His career in activism began in 1998, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to tackling climate change. Since then, he’s been a tireless advocate for environmental awareness, donating millions to conservation and climate charities, and producing and appearing in likeminded documentaries.