Leonardo DiCaprio starred in every single one of our teenage dreams back in the 1990s, and his current cool confidence as a strapping full-grown man works a different kind of magic on us. Our first film boyfriend has come a long way since playing Titanic‘s Jack: From working with esteemed directors like Martin Scorsese to portraying legends like Howard Hughes, our young Leo is now the highest paid actor in Hollywood (Forbes estimated his salary at $77 million). And next, he’ll try on the role of J. Edgar Hoover for size in the Clint Eastwood-directed movie J. Edgar, in theaters this week.
Born: November 11, 1974
Hometown: Hollywood, California
Why we love Leonardo DiCaprio
We’ve seen Leo go from teen heartthrob to seasoned acting veteran, and every time we see his mischievous grin, we still kind of want to tape a poster of him to our bedroom ceiling.
He made us melt as young lasses
There’s something about Titanic and Romeo + Juliet that rewired every girl’s brain to associate Leo with high romance and boyish charm. Remember that floppy hair and boundless energy? So needless to say, when we see him now, we still fantasize about leaning against him on a ship’s bow (or, make that a yacht’s bow).
“I am proud to have been in Titanic,” he told Parade. “I’m grateful for the possibilities it’s given me. If it hadn’t been for that movie, I wouldn’t have been able to take control of my career. It was during that time that I started to think about things that meant more to the world than this glorified, superficial media exposure of me, something I never felt was justified.”
Hey, we’re always happy to gaze upon Leo’s face in any medium!
He challenges us
Leonardo DiCaprio’s film choices post-Titanic have ranged from thoughtful to mind-blowing — making his body of work one hot brain teaser. The Departed. Catch Me If You Can. Shutter Island… And wrapping our heads around Inception was all the more fun due to DiCaprio’s passionate performance.
“I just try to be a part of films that move people,” he told USA Weekend. “A lot of times, those are the darker side of humanity, I suppose.”
The Academy has certainly been moved: Leo has been nominated for three Oscars for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), The Aviator (2004) and Blood Diamond (2006). We’re pulling for a win next time around!
He’s an environmental activist
High on Leo’s agenda? Saving the planet. He has long sung the praises of solar panels and hybrids and chosen to fly commercial rather than on a private jet to conserve resources. In 2007, he conceptualized, produced and narrated the documentary 11th Hour, about global warming. His eponymous Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation says it “supports efforts to secure a sustainable future for our planet and all of its inhabitants.”
Another passion of his: Saving wild tigers, whose numbers have dwindled due to poaching and deforestation. He has teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund to reverse the trend.
We love a man who stands up for a cause (or several of them)!
Leonardo DiCaprio’s relationship status:
Our Leo made waves in the tabloids recently for courting Gossip Girl actress Blake Lively (including taking her on a romantic yacht date at the Cannes Film Festival), but that relationship fizzled in October of this year. Shortly afterward, he was rumored to be seeing both 21-year-old Australia’s Next Top Model contestant Alyce Crawford and Australian model Kendal Schuler, 20, while shooting The Great Gatsby Down Under. True or not, DiCaprio has always had a penchant for supermodels, most notably his ex-girlfriends Brazilian Victoria’s Secret model Gisele Bundchen and Israeli model Bar Refaeli. Leo, if you’re ever in the mood for a regular gal, we’re right here waiting for you!
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Watch: Vintage Leo
A teenage Leonardo DiCaprio in a Fred Meyer commercial.