Leonardo DiCaprio’s Claim to Global Fame
More than six weeks before the “Titanic” opened in the United States, 20th Century Fox launched the film at the Tokyo Film Festival. The hope was to generate an early buzz in the untapped Asian market. At the time, Jim Gianopulos was Paramount chief running international distribution at Fox. He expected the theater to be crowded.
Before the release of “Titanic” Leonardo DiCaprio had global popularity thanks to the 1996 release of “Romeo + Juliet.” The film earned $148 million worldwide and 69 percent of the money was garnered overseas.
It was pandemonium. The entire area of Tokyo basically shut down, with fans coming out to see Leo. He started to be a heartthrob with ‘Romeo + Juliet,’ but with ‘Titanic,’ it just became insanity. It was the first time in history that a film was No. 1 in every single country in the world by a massive margin.
Twenty-two years later, DiCaprio is still a global movie star. His consistency in bankability and acclaim set him apart from his peers. Arguably, DiCaprio is the only global superstar currently in the film industry.
DiCaprio is alone on top of the Hollywood pyramid without ever having made a comic book movie, a family film, or a pre-branded franchise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he is the franchise.
It has been four years since DiCaprio has been on the big screen. He returns on July 26, 2019, for Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” This movie is Quentin Tarantino’s interpretation of the Manson murders. It is recommended as an adults-only film.
“One of the things I like about Leo is he just doesn’t plug himself into two movies a year,” according to Tarantino. He has drawn an unstated comparison with current stars such as Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, who are omnipresent in multiplexes and social media.
Today, DiCaprio stands alone like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino were in the 1970s, however, they were not trying to do two movies a year, so they could do any project they chose, and they decided to do “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.”
In an age of brand management, DiCaprio cultivated his own brand of excellence according to Tom Rothman, the film chief for Sony.
What is remarkable about Leo is his consistency. If he’s in it, the audience knows it’s going to be good because he’s in it. I mean, when is he not great? But that’s not an accident. He works his a$$ off.
According to sources, DiCaprio took $15 million in pay upfront – $5 million less that his usual. After “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”hits theaters, however, he most likely will make more than $45 million if the movie meets expectations.
How It all Began
DiCaprio’s ascent began before “Romeo + Juliet.” He appeared as a toddler in “Romper Room.” A decade later, the teen landed a part in “Growing Pains.” This was a pivotal role for two reasons: it led to his being signed by manager Rick Yorn, who has guided DiCaprio’s career for 27 years, and the role helped him land his first significant movie role in “This Boy’s Life,” a 1993 drama. He was 19. That same year, he co-starred in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” This film earned him his first Oscar nomination as an actor.
After “Titanic,” DiCaprio participated in five feature films with Martin Scorsese: “Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator,” “The Departed,” “Shutter Island,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” He played in multiple films with Baz Luhrmann, including “Romeo + Juliet” and “The Great Gatsby.” Then went on to work with Tarantino who directed him in “Django Unchained.”
By far, DiCaprio is one of the most coveted actors by studio heads and top directors. Three of his past five movies were nominated for best picture. DiCaprio offers a rare blend of prestige and box office prowess. He tends to choose films that look risky in script, R-rated, longer than two-and-a-half hours, and have budgets that top $80 million, however, his bets have paid off and he now has unrivaled power.
DiCaprio Inspires Scorsese
Before DiCaprio collaborated with Scorsese on “Gangs of New York,” Scorsese was in a creative rut. His passion for filmmaking has been reignited and he credits DiCaprio.
He was my perfect muse. My love for filmmaking was rejuvenated again. “A key thing about Leo – and I always tell him this – is he’s a natural screen actor. He could have been in silent films. It’s the look on his face, the look in his eyes. He doesn’t have to say anything. It just reads, and you can connect with him. Not everybody is like that.”
Tarantino and DiCaprio
In 1993, Tarantino met DiCaprio at the premiere of “True Romance.” He was the man of the hour and he made a point to tell me he thought my script was terrific. This was when the paparazzi thought of DiCaprio as the latest “It” boy.
The two discussed working together and almost did so on 2009’s “Inglorious Basterds.” All Tarantino would say is that did not work out. It was nearly two decades before they collaborated on “Django Unchained” in 2012.
The character of Calvin Candie, a ruthless slave owner was not written with DiCaprio in mind. Tarantino wrote the character to be in his 60s. Taratntino heard DiCaprio wanted to talk to him about the part and they spent a few hours discussing it by the pool at DiCaprio’s house. Tarantino says that relationships almost always begin at DiCaprio’s house. Tarantino was interested by what DiCaprio proposed by told him he was not going to be convinced in that meeting because it was a huge change in the script.
Tarantino thought about it at home. DiCaprio’s pitch intrigued him even though he pictured the character to be an old, crusty plantation master. Tarantino began to think of the character as an evil, corrupt boy emperor like Caligula, or a young Nero. He decided it was an interesting idea. Tarantino said DiCaprio “has the power of life and death.”
DiCaprio in the Media
DiCaprio has 19.1 million followers on Twitter. He does not promote himself, however, he updates followers on the Waorani Tribe’s efforts to protect the Amazon from oil drilling and promotes vegan burgers.
He maintains an air of mystery off-camera. Crew members on the set of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” were instructed to avoid making eye contact with the cinema star.
Going Green in Hollywood
In May, he brought his parents to see “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” at the Cannes Film Festival, however, he avoided the environmental documentary, “And We Go Green” which he produced with his longtime friend Fisher Stevens. Currently, according to Stevens, he and DiCaprio are talking with John Kerry about producing an eco-minded series about the world’s oceans and their threats.
According to Stevens, people would be impressed with the level of understanding DiCaprio has when is comes to environmental issues, particularly climate change. “Leo is definitely into meeting people and talking to people on the cutting edge of this issue. It’s definitely something he is passionate about.”
It is rare that DiCaprio discusses his personal life or his career. He typically promotes a film in partnership with the director only. He is one of the most photographed men in the world and little is known about his everyday life.
DiCaprio in the News
In January 2019, DiCaprio became entangled with Riza Aziz. She runs Red Granite Pictures which financed “Wolf of Wall Street.” DiCaprio found himself giving a closed-door testimony to a grand jury in Washington, D.C. regarding a multibillion-dollar Malaysian corruption scandal. Aziz was arrested in June and charged in Malaysia with laundering $248 million from a state investment fund used to channel funds into Red Granite bank accounts. It is not clear if DiCaprio will have to testify at any trials.
It does appear that the Red Granite scandal has had little, if any, effect on his standing in Hollywood. Still, agents privately say there is no other actor they would rather put their client next to in a movie.
Producers Who Appreciate DiCaprio
Stacey Sher, producer of “Django,” said that DiCaprio is that “10,000 hours and beyond.” “I think everybody thinks of him as the greatest actor of his generation first, who happened to become the biggest movie star of his generation.”
Iñárritu, who produced “The Revenant,” said that DiCaprio is a perfectionist. “There was this scene in the river that he is meant to be floating, and there were huge pieces of ice. He never hesitated, and even when you got the take, he asked for another. He was relentless when it was sometimes not necessary.”
Despite his four-year hiatus, Tarantino was hopeful DiCaprio would play the role of Rick Dalton in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” “I absolutely had him in mind, but I didn’t know if I was going to get him. I’m not presumptuous. I mean, everyone in the world wants him.”
Producer for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” Shannon McIntosh said one scene instilled fear in the actor. It was a sequence on a campy variety show called “Hullabaloo” that required the actors to sing and dance. DiCaprio has to sing in this scene and a week before filming that sequence, DiCaprio told McIntosh that he was not really a singer and wondered how he was going to be ready in a week. McIntosh said a week later, he was fearless. He just simply got up and did it.
Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is a fairytale about actor Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and sidekick Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) who is willing to put his life on the line for Dalton.
Next, DiCaprio is planning to team up with Scorsese once again for “Killers of the Flower Moon.” The movie follows the investigation into a series of murders that took place in Oklahoma in the 1920s. It is expected that the murders are tied to oil deposits.
Gianopulos said, “I’ve admired the fact that throughout all of this fame, all of this success, he has maintained his friendships, his relationships, his closeness with his parents. He is truly a lovely human being. Hollywood can change people, and it really hasn’t changed Leo.”
DiCaprio and Camila Morrone
Speaking of relationships, sources tell People that his relationship with Camila Morrone is more than just casual, despite their 20-year age gap. The insider stated that the couple seems serious as Morrone spends a lot of her time at DiCaprio’s house.
Additionally, the couple enjoys traveling together. They have been to Coachella and the Cannes Film Festival where DiCaprio debuted “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
Morrone is DiCaprio’s longtime girlfriend and she met his parents some time ago according to the source that reported to People.
The model and the actor are not afraid to been seen together in public. There are photographs of them walking hand-in-hand while in New York City in May. The couple was first seen together in January 2018 during a trip to Aspen, Colorado. The two have been seen all over the world since.
During an interview with People concerning his upcoming movie, DiCaprio was asked if he would retire. He responded: “I mean, I suppose at some point I might retire, but I’ve always looked at this as the greatest gift that anyone’s ever given me. I feel like I won the lotto, so I’m going to keep going as long as they’ll have me.”
By Jeanette Smith
The Hollywood Reporter: “His Brand Is Excellence”: How Leonardo DiCaprio Became Hollywood’s Last Movie Star
People: Is Leonardo DiCaprio Ready to Settle Down with Camila Morrone? They’re ‘Pretty Serious’: Source
Vanity Fair: Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s Hollywood Bromance Was Inspired by This Friendship
Image Courtesy of Ninha Morandini’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License