11/11/1974 (44 years old) Los Angeles, California, United States
While myriad actors dream of becoming Hollywood icons, DiCaprio has spent a lot of time and energy distancing himself from his megastar image, which was born when he starred in one of the highest-grossing blockbusters of all time: the 1997 epic Titanic. As a charismatic and resourceful artist who wins the heart of the society gal played by Kate Winslet, DiCaprio became an international heartthrob. But the media's sudden and obsessive fascination with the young actor's private life prompted him to step back and carefully plan the rest of his career so he wouldn't forever be pigeonholed. Interestingly, his romantic Titanic role was markedly different than the troubled characters he usually played: a junkie in The Basketball Dairies, an absinthe-drinking poet in Total Eclipse, a juvenile delinquent in Marvin's Room. After starting out in commercials and TV as a child (he was the homeless kid taken in by the Seavers on the last season of Growing Pains), DiCaprio concentrated on the big screen. But 1993 became his breakthrough year: In addition to winning raves for his turn as a rebellious '50s youth clashing with his abusive stepfather in This Boy's Life, he also earned his first Oscar nod as Johnny Depp's sweet but slow brother in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. DiCaprio subsequently appeared in modest hits (Romeo + Juliet) and outright flops (The Quick and the Dead), but nothing prepared him for Titanic's reception and the subsequent hysteria. He poked fun at his situation by appearing as a grossly distorted version of himself in Woody Allen's Celebrity, and set out to prove himself as a serious actor. In the '00s, he began a successful collaborative relationship with director Martin Scorsese, and the two went on to make numerous critically acclaimed films together. Under Scorsese's guidance, he first played a tough Irish thug out to avenge his father's murder in Gangs of New York; the pair have subsequently re-teamed for numerous successful films. Off-screen, DiCaprio maintains an avid interest in environmental causes and actively campaigns for changes in environmental policy.