Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most well-known, popular and critically acclaimed actors of his generation, having already received three Oscar nominations before his fortieth birthday.
DiCaprio is also a passionate environmentalist, having started the Leonardo DiCaprio foundation in 1998 – dedicated to “people, animals and the planet,” it involves itself with everything from wildlife protection and forest preservation to clean waters and climate change. His foundation and charitable actions have gained praise from many.
His latest film, J. Edgar tracks the career of one of the most powerful figures in American law enforcement, the titular J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, with Dicaprio playing him from his mid-twenties to his death in 1972 at 77. While this may seem an unusual choice of role if you primarily know DiCaprio from his breakout turn in Titanic as Jack to Kate Winslet’s Rose or the 1996 modernisation of Romeo and Juliet, this is not the first time he’s picked a more serious role.
Following up the blockbuster success of Titanic by working with more serious directors on projects such as Danny Boyle on The Beach, Martin Scorcese on The Aviator and Steven Spielberg on Catch Me If You Can, he managed to avoid becoming typecast as just a romcom star. A reputation for great with work with celebrated directors meant that in 2010 he was the highest earning actor, with a third collaboration with Scorcese in Shutter Island and the highly praised (and huge at the box office last year) Inception helping him pass over stars such as Johnny Depp, but a quiet 2011 saw him fall back down the charts.
2012 looks like to be a return to form though, with money from J Edgar soon to start pouring in, and Tarantino film Django Unchained as well as the role of Jay Gatsby in a film adaptation The Great Gatsby sure to see him profit massively. DiCaprio is someone who doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon and I, for one, am glad of that.