Hollywood leading man Leo DiCaprio took over the world with his captivating performances in blockbusters like Titanic (1997), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and The Revenant (2015).
DiCaprio was born on the 11th of November in 1974, and grew up in east Los Angeles, California in a poor area close to Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue.
From his early years in the midst by poverty and crime, to a luxurious lifestyle on private yachts and a front seat in the biggest award shows, let’s take an in-depth look at his rise to stardom.
In Los Angeles, California, Irmelin Indenbirken gave birth to a blonde-haired blue-eyed boy with her husband, George DiCaprio.
She named the boy Leonardo, after she felt his first kick while pregnant and standing in front of one of Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings.
Leo’s parents separated in 1975, just a year after he was born. They intended to live close to one another, and lived in adjoining bungalows with a shared garden for a period of time.
But Leo and his mother ended up moving around to different neighborhoods within Los Angeles, so he lived about two miles away from his father as he continued to grow. Some areas they were housed in included Echo Park and Los Feliz.
Life in east Hollywood wasn’t easy for Leo and his mother. They lived in a very poor side of town, filled with crime and substance use.
He’s stated once before, “I grew up very poor and I got to see the other side of the spectrum.”
While he has grown to be quite secretive about his private life, he has spoken about his impoverished childhood and rough surroundings several times before.
On CBS Sunday Morning, Leo opened up about his experiences:
“I had a prostitution ring on my street corner, there were drug addicts in my alleyway, I was robbed at five years old,” Leo recounts.
“It was a pretty hardcore neighborhood and I think that gave me a lot of motivation to, sort of, I think be successful, really, and try to do something else.”
A Dedicated Mother
Irmelin saw the grand potential in Leo, and was determined to provide him with opportunities that could take him away from the dangerous district he was growing up within.
He went to Seeds Elementary School and also John Marshall High School, but later revealed his dislike for public school. Rather, he wanted his mother to bring him to auditions to help better their financial status.
She happily obliged, working hard in several jobs while driving him around to give him the opportunity to audition as much as possible.
In his winning Best Actor speech at the BAFTA’s in 2016, Leo declared his gratitude for the determination of his mother when he was a child:
“I didn’t grow up in a life of privilege. I grew up in a very rough neighborhood in east Los Angeles. This woman drove me three hours a day to a different school to show me a different opportunity. It’s her birthday today. Mom, happy birthday. I love you very much.”
Feeding His Talents
After considering a potential career path as a marine biologist when he was young, Leo leaned more towards acting, since he enjoyed imitating those around him for fun.
“Very early on I was always impersonating different characters, imitating people who came by. I loved doing that and getting the amazing experience of seeing people’s reactions,” he told Parade in 2016.
1979 was his first role. He was credited as “child” in one episode of Romper Room, but was reportedly taken off the set for being disorderly and acting out.
From there things started looking up, and eventually Leo’s role as Jack in Titanic soared his fame into superstardom.
In addition to acting, Leo also now uses his massive platform to promote his fierce passion for environmentalism.