Granted, females of all stripes will still swoon over him for his heartthrob role in Titanic, but we were first drawn to Leonardo DiCaprio when he unabashedly played Johnny Depp’s mentally challenged brother in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, which snagged him his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor at only 19. Putting aside that he’s an overall great actor (and that he was named after Leonardo da Vinci), here are five other relevant praises. (Little sidenote: we think it’s awesome that his father, George DiCaprio, is a comic-book artist because, well, comics rule).
He channeled the soul of Jay Gatsby: We were skeptical when a film version of one of our favorite novels, The Great Gatsby, came out. But while another actor may have ruined it for future generations or been overshadowed by the movie’s signature pomp and artifice imbued by director Baz Luhrmann, DiCaprio was able to encapsulate and extend all the mystery, nuance and ostensible insouciance of one of American literature’s most compelling characters.
He’s generous: OK, so some of DiCaprio’s environmental hoopla may just be hoopla (hey, it ain’t easy being green), but there’s no denying that DiCaprio is a dedicated activist and is hardly stingy when it comes to dishing out cash to causes he believes in. To wit: in 2010, he donated $1 million to relief efforts in Haiti following the devastating earthquake and also an additional $1 million to the Wildlife Conservation Society at Russia’s tiger summit; plus, in April last year, he offered $61,000 to GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. We’re not saying these contributions are making a huge dent in his wallet, but it’s not like he has to give away any of his money to begin with.
He’s an underdog: Despite many nominations and several powerful performances, DiCaprio has never actually won an Oscar. His time will come, but meanwhile, we like his underdog status vis-à-vis the Academy.
He likes comics: It may be the influence of his dad, but it seems like DiCaprio is a comics fan. And thanks to him, a biopic about the famously reclusive Bill Watterson (creator of cult comic Calvin & Hobbes) may soon arrive on the big screen in an adaptation of a screenplay by Dan Dollar called “A Boy and His Tiger.” It was DiCaprio who initially brought the script to Warner Bros. for development and he has signed on as a producer, although it remains to be seen if the film will ever be achieved without any rights to the actual characters and material.
He likes bourbon: And so do we. DiCaprio recently appeared in a Japanese commercial for Jim Beam, where he nonchalantly snaps at a globe of ice which crushes into a glass of golden whiskey. Not only does he look slick doing it, but we like the way he says the laconic slogan, “Cool bourbon. Jim Beam.” Touché.
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