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Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio is an American actor, film producer, and environmental activist. DiCaprio began his career by appearing in television commercials in the late 1980s, after which he had recurring roles in various television series such as the soap opera Santa Barbara and the sitcom Growing Pains. He began his film career by starring as Josh in Critters 3 (1991). He starred in the film adaptation of the memoir This Boy's Life (1993), and was praised for his supporting role in What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993). He gained public recognition with leading roles in The Basketball Diaries (1995) and the romantic drama Romeo + Juliet (1996), before achieving international fame with James Cameron's epic romance Titanic (1997), which became the highest-grossing film of all time until Cameron's science fiction film Avatar (2009) overtook it.
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Since 2000, DiCaprio has received critical acclaim for his work in a wide range of film genres. DiCaprio's subsequent films include The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), the biographical crime drama Catch Me If You Can (2002), and the epic historical drama Gangs of New York (2002), which marked his first of many collaborations with director Martin Scorsese. He was acclaimed for his performances in the political war thriller Blood Diamond (2006), the neo-noir crime drama The Departed (2006), the espionage thriller Body of Lies (2008), the drama Revolutionary Road (2008), the psychological thriller Shutter Island (2010), the science fiction thriller Inception (2010), the biographical film J. Edgar (2011), the western Django Unchained (2012), and the period drama The Great Gatsby (2013).
DiCaprio's portrayals of Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004) and Hugh Glass in The Revenant (2015) won him the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama, and his role as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) won him the award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. He also won the Academy Award for Best Actor and BAFTA Award for his performance in The Revenant. DiCaprio is the founder of his own production company, Appian Way Productions.
Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio was born on November 11, 1974, in Los Angeles. He is the only child of Irmelin (née Indenbirken), a legal secretary, and George DiCaprio, an underground comix artist and producer and distributor of comic books. DiCaprio's father is of Italian (from Alife) and German (from Bavaria) descent. DiCaprio's maternal grandfather, Wilhelm Indenbirken, was German. His maternal grandmother, Helene Indenbirken (born Yelena Smirnova; 1915–2008), was a Russian-born German citizen. In an interview in Russia, DiCaprio referred to himself as "half-Russian" and said that two of his grandparents were Russian. DiCaprio's parents met while attending college and subsequently moved to Los Angeles, California.
DiCaprio was named Leonardo because his pregnant mother was looking at a Leonardo da Vinci painting in the Uffizi museum in Florence, Italy, when he first kicked. His parents separated when he was a year old, and he lived mostly with his mother. The two lived in several Los Angeles neighborhoods, such as Echo Park and Los Feliz (his Los Feliz residence was later converted into a public library), while his mother worked several jobs. DiCaprio attended Seeds Elementary School (now UCLA Lab School) and John Marshall High School a few blocks away, after attending the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies for four years. However, he dropped out of high school following his third year, eventually earning his general equivalency diploma (GED). DiCaprio spent part of his childhood in Germany with his maternal grandparents, Wilhelm and Helene. He is conversant in German and Italian.
DiCaprio was also a contestant on the children's game show Fun House. One of the stunts he performed on the show was going fishing in a small pool of water by catching the fish only with his teeth.