Those who have seen Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island know that although Scorsese tried his best hand at a Hitchcock by way of Lynchian psychological thrill, it was the performance from Leonardo DiCaprio that moved audiences to tears. It could have been an affinity for the dramatic, but he was just so good we couldn’t help but indulge in our emphatic emotions. It’s always that way with Leo—no matter the film—from his boyhood roles in features like What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and The Basketball Diaries to his most recent maniacal turns in Django Unchained and The Wolf of Wall Street—in his twenty some odd years gracing our screens, he has never delivered a less than brilliant performance.
Whether he’s playing a mentally-handicapped teenager coping with the strains of his family, an infamous conman making his way around the world, a family man wrestling with the trials of love, or a psychopathic slave-owner, Leo always sinks his teeth fully into every role—giving a performance that’s brimming with conviction, intensity, charm, and agility, always with that signature essence of Leo that lingers no matter within which character he disappears. And it’s that rare amalgamation of charm and talent that’s made him not only one of Hollywood’s most beloved leading men but also a cultural icon with unwavering force. The transition from childhood actor to teen heartthrob to respected adult actor isn’t always an easy feat—many have let their flame burn out too soon and never fulfilled on the promise of their talent, but Leo has done nothing but prove time and time again that he’s more than deserving of that Oscar we’ve yet to see him take home.READ +
But let’s face it, when it comes to his off-screen life Leo has never been known for his stunning fashion sense. Yes, he has looked impeccable at every awards ceremony for upwards of two decades now, and his ‘90s casual cool was the stuff teen dreams are made of, but nowadays the man certainly does love himself a primary colored velour track suit and baseball cap in his time off. But for whatever he chooses to do in his personal life, Leo always finds himself in characters whose sartorial choices fit him like a glove and it’s what has been making audiences swoon for so many years. One of the most iconic and brilliantly done roles he’s ever played came as early as 1996 with Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet—but it wasn’t just the emotionally-gutting way he took on the classic Shakespearean role – it was the Hawaiian shirts were changed forever. Between the shaggy middle-part (endlessly gaze-upon-able) and that tear-stained tropical top bellowing in the breeze, his heartthrob status could have been solidified on that one look alone. But of course, the following year saw the release of Titanic, the film that not only catapulted him into Hollywood forever but also imprinted us with an undying fervor for the love struck artist with the devilish grin who froze to death for the woman he loved.
But since his early days, he’s done nothing but lead some of the greatest films of their time—from Catch Me If You Can and The Aviator to The Departed and Revolutionary Road. But with last year’s The Great Gatsby, Leo once again reunited with Luhrmann to tell F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic tale of heartbreak and excess, and naturally looked stunning in the lavish and varied suits, slacks, and bathing attire of Jay Gatsby. This year’s The Wolf of Wall Street has already won Leo a Golden Globe and garnered him an Academy Award nomination—and rightfully so. As usual, he completely embodies the drug-addicted, power-obsessed Jordan Belfort while managing to keep that Leo essence even when literally shoving a mountain of cocaine in his face. And when not acting, Leo lends his celebrity status to environmental activism and various charity organizations, thus further proving there’s are myriad reasons that the world has been obsessed with the man for so many years now. You look back on his early late night talk show performances and marvel at how that wonderfully beautiful and nervous young man kept his head on straight through all of Hollywood’s foibles and managed to continue building himself up to be one of the most desired and talented Hollywood icons of our generation—and we still can’t get enough Leo.
BY HILLARY WESTON
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