Leading Man Almost Lead Away
Leonardo DiCaprio became one of Hollywood's hottest properties with the epic movie "Titanic" in 1997. Not only did it garner him an Academy Award nomination, but it boosted his value as a leading man, and he was then able to pick amongst roles offered as well as focusing more on personal interests such as the environment.
But DiCaprio had already been treading the waters of fame for several years before his abrupt departure from the deck of the Titanic. By 1992, the 18-year old DiCaprio was well versed in the world of commercials, promotions, and bit parts. Then he landed the role of Tobias, in Wolff's screen adaptation of "This Boy's Life". It put DiCaprio squarely between two major stars, Robert de Niro and Ellen Barkin, where he managed to hold his own, and garner favorable reviews.
By the age of 19, DiCaprio had his first Oscar nomination for the movie "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" a film by Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom. The next year he was once more slotted between two screen giants, Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton in "Marvin's Room". The continual exposure to classic actors must have rubbed off, and he would eventually win that most prized and famous of his roles - Jack Dawson, in "The Titanic".
But DiCaprio was not always star material. At the age of five he made his t.v. debut on the children's show "Romper Room". And was very nearly thrown off for his antics.