Featuring what could be one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s most memorable roles to date, “The Great Gatsby” tells the tale of eccentric millionaire Jay Gatsby, whom everyone seems to know, but whom no one really knows much about. With that in mind, we’ve gathered up 18 lesser-known facts about the film’s Oscar-nominated leading man.
After a little digging, it turns out that DiCaprio may be as mysterious as the enigmatic Gatsby.
1. Leonardo DiCaprio was born and raised in Los Angeles, California.
2. He was born November 11, 1974. He’s a Scorpio and was born in the Year of the Tiger.
3. His mother, Irmelin, is German. His father, George DiCaprio, is Italian.
4. His father was a comic-book artist.
5. His is an only child.
6. His middle name is Wilhelm, which is awesome.
7. He was named for the other famous Leonardo: Leonardo DaVinci. Before he was born, the story goes, DiCaprio’s mother felt her baby kick for the first time while she was standing in front of a portrait of Leonardo DaVinci at a gallery in Florence, Italy – according to Leo, his father took this as a cosmic sign.
8. His breakout role was in “Critters 3” (1991), a horror film.
9. His first on-screen roles were brief stints on ‘90s soap opera “Santa Barbara” and classic ’80s sitcom “Growing Pains.”
10. His first major film role was in 1993’s “This Boy’s Life,” alongside Robert De Niro.
11. He and Tobey Maguire are longtime friends, having known each other for over 20 years since he was 13.
12. He was offered the role of Dirk Diggler in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights” but opted for “Titanic” instead. The “Boogie Nights” role went to Mark Wahlberg, who co-starred with Leo in “The Basketball Diaries.”
13. He moved out of his mother’s house in November 1997, just a month before “Titanic” was released.
14. His first Oscar nomination came at age 19 for Best Supporting Actor for “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” which starred Johnny Depp.
15. He loves his pets. According to “Titanic” co-star Kathy Bates, he carried his pet lizard around with him on the set. He has had dogs and frogs and enjoys going on safari to check out less house-friendly creatures.
16. In 2004, he revealed in an interview with Katie Couric that he has had the obsessive-compulsive disorder since he was a child.
17. As a budding teen actor, his agent insisted he change his name to Lenny Williams for fear that his real name sounded too “ethnic.” Clearly, he declined.
18. He is an ardent environmentalist. He founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to support sustainability efforts, is a board member of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Global Green USA, and created a climate change documentary called “The 11th Hour.” He also drives eco-friendly cars, like the Toyota Prius and a hydrogen-fueled BMW H7.