Leonardo DiCaprio is one of Hollywood’s most famous leading men and he’s considered one of the best actors of all time. DiCaprio has been working in the film industry since he was a kid, appearing in dozens of commercials and television shows before he became a bona fide movie star, which might leave fans wondering about Leonardo DiCaprio’s first film role.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s first film role was in the direct-to-video horror movie, Critters 3. The movie follows a group of people as they try to avoid being maimed or killed by the titular creatures. The movie is a far cry from the productions audiences are used to seeing Leonardo DiCaprio in, but even the most famous actors had to get their start somewhere.
Read more below about Leonardo DiCaprio’s rise to fame from Hollywood heartthrob to Oscar-winning actor.
Leo’s Early Days in Los Angeles
As Leo racked up more and more small parts, his career really started to take off when he was cast as a homeless youth in the hit sitcom Growing Pains. Working alongside teen star Kirk Cameron and veteran actor Alan Thicke, DiCaprio was initially cast to attract young teens to help improve the show’s ratings.
Hollywood Heavyweights and Oscar Nominations
Several film roles quickly followed DiCaprio’s stint on Growing Pains, and he worked alongside the legendary Robert De Niro and fellow heartthrob Johnny Depp. The latter co-starred with Leo in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, which was a critical success and landed DiCaprio his first Oscar nomination.
The Unsinkable Movie
Unbeknownst to Leonardo DiCaprio, he was about to be offered the role of a lifetime. Starring opposite Kate Winslet, DiCaprio took on the role of Jack Dawson in James Cameron’s megahit Titanic.
The movie was a critical and commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing film of all time (a record it held for over a decade, and Titanic still remains as one of the top five highest-grossing films ever). The movie’s success turned Leonardo into a leading man overnight.
Leonardo DiCaprio became Hollywood’s golden boy, achieving global superstardom. During an interview with Time, Leo commented on his fame in the aftermath of Titanic, noting, “I’ll never reach that state of popularity again, and I don’t expect to.”
Film Production and the Elusive Oscar
In the years that followed, DiCaprio took on bigger and better roles and started his own production company, Appian Way. Between his acting and role as a producer, DiCaprio continued to have critical and commercial success, racking up more and more accolades.
However, despite multiple nominations, Leonardo DiCaprio had never won an Academy Award. The actor took on meatier and more serious roles, and finally, nearly 20 years after his first nomination, DiCaprio won the Oscar for Best Actor in 2016’s The Revenant.
You can watch Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar acceptance speech in the YouTube video below.
Humanitarian Work and Climate Change
With his Oscar dreams realized, Leonard DiCaprio has continued to take on a variety of roles, as well as focusing on his humanitarian efforts. Unbeknownst to many, DiCaprio had founded The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in 1998, whose focus is “protecting the world’s last wild places.”
DiCaprio has most recently focused his cause on climate change, even mentioning it in his Oscar acceptance speech because he realized what a large audience he could reach by doing so. When between film roles, DiCaprio can often be found attending global events geared towards humanitarian work.
That is not to say that DiCaprio is ever going to leave the bright lights of Hollywood. Though the actor is taking a break in 2020, he has plenty of projects lined up for the following year, meaning audiences have more Leo to look forward to in the future.
Leonardo DiCaprio has seemingly done it all. He has successfully worked in the film industry for decades, avoiding the pitfalls of childhood fame that so often claim other kids in Hollywood; he has become one of the most celebrated actors in movie history, created a formidable production company and routinely tries to make the planet a better place for everyone.
Though Critters 3 might have been his first movie role, it was clear Leonardo DiCaprio was already on his way to becoming a celebrity. DiCaprio’s dedication to his craft has allowed him to have an indomitable career and leave a lasting legacy on Hollywood forever.