Friday, March 23, 2007

All About Leonardo DiCaprio


Early in 2006 Leonado started filming "Blood Diamond". Although it is about diamonds in Sierra Leone in the 1990's, the actual filming took place in Mozambique and South Africa.

"Blood Diamond" opened shortly after the critically acclaimed film "The Departed". Both films garnered Leonardo some of the best reviews of his career.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association honored him with two nominations for Best Leading Actor in a Drama for both films, it is an historic first that an actor received 2 leading nominations in the same year. See all the awards and nominations for "The Departed" and for "Blood Diamond" at IMBD.

In the meantime Leonardo continued working on his environmental documentary "The 11th Hour" which he produced, co-wrote and partly narrated on screen. He also continued to be very active in his passion to protect our environment by contributing to environmental causes and by supporting political candidates who advocate for the protection of our planet. He made special public appearances to spread the word about the dangers of global warming, one being The Oprah Winfrey Show.


The first half of 2005 was devoted to "The Aviator", which received 5 Academy Awards, and a Best Actor nomination for Leonardo's performance as Howard Hughes. The Hollywood Foreign Press awarded Leonardo a Golden Globe for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Drama. See all the awards and nominations for "The Aviator".

The second half of the year was devoted to filming "The Departed", his third collaboration with director Martin Scorsese.

Leonardo created his second spoken word piece entitled "Water Planet".

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Tree Media Group began production on "11th Hour", a feature-length documentary about the human impact on our planet which will open in early 2007.


In order to offer visitors more information and resources, Leonardo's Eco-site was re-designed and launched early this year.
Leonardo joined the boards of both NRDC and Global Green USA in 2004.
Like most Americans in 2004, Leonardo concentrated on one of the most important presidential elections in our history. Along with Norman Lear's campaign "Declare Yourself", he criss-crossed the U.S.A., visited college campuses and encouraged young people to register to vote.
He then criss-crossed half the world to attend the premieres of his film "The Aviator", in which he not only starred but also served as an executive producer.
On October 18th the Hollywood Film Festival honored Annette Bening and Leonardo with the Actor of the Year Award respectively.
Then, on December 9th, Global Green USA and Leonardo organized a private screening of "The Aviator"at the world famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. More than a thousand fans and friends attended the event.

Leonardo completed principal photography on "The Aviator", a biopic about Howard Hughes, directed by Martin Scorsese, scheduled to open Christmas 2004. The Russian International Film Festival honored Leonardo with the Tower Award for Contributions to International Cinema. Leonardo's environmental work continued with a spoken word piece entitled "Global Warning". He received the Environmental Leadership Award from Global Green USA. The Natural Resources Defense Council opened a new green building, featuring the Leonardo DiCaprio e-Activism Computer Zone.

Leonardo had leading roles in "Gangs Of New York", directed by Martin Scorsese, and "Catch Me If You Can", directed by Steven Spielberg. Both films were released concurrently towards the end of the year. For his performance as con-man Frank Abagnale, Jr., he received his third Golden Globe nomination from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. His Foundation received the Martin Litton Environmental Warrior Award from Environment Now. In August, he joined Global Green USA, in urging our leaders to attend the Earth Summit in South Africa.


Aside from film acting, Leo's lifelong passion for environmental awareness began to play a big role in his life. Finally in an influential position to make a difference in the name of the planet, he was invited to chair Earth Day 2000. In a special on the deterioration of the ozone level, he also interviewed President Bill Clinton. is now devoted to helping the environment on a worldwide level.

In 1999, Leonardo filmed Danny Boyle's screen adaptation of the best selling novel "The Beach" by Alex Garland. The film was shot entirely on location in Thailand and marked Leonardo's first starring role since Titanic. Once he got back to the States, he started mulling for a new project and joined with one of his most admired directors, Martin Scorsese.


Leonardo starred in "The Man in the Iron Mask" which shot in France with Gerard Depardieu, Gabriel Byrne, Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich. Owning the #1 position on the top ten box office list for the better part of the first half of 1998 with "Titanic," he virtually knocked himself out of the top spot with "The Man in the Iron Mask."

Legendary director Woody Allen cast Leonardo in his typically untitled "Fall Project," ultimately titled "Celebrity," in which he received highly favorable reviews for his satirical work as a young, out of control movie star.

Growing up on the eastside of Los Angeles, Leonardo wanted to give back to his community, and he donated a room full of computers and equipment to the new Los Feliz Library, built on the site of his childhood home. There are commemorative placards and curious fans are welcome at the library.


In late 1996, Leonardo signed on to star in James Cameron's "Titanic." He was hesitant at first. This wasn't the kind of film he had told himself he wanted to make. These initial misgivings ultimately gave way to Cameron's relentlessness and the story's thematic elements.


1995 found Leonardo playing opposite Sharon Stone and Gene Hackman in "The Quick and the Dead", Sam Raimi's deliriously stylish meditation on the Old West. Later that same year, he starred in the adaptation of Jim Carroll's gritty autobiographical memoir, "The Basketball Diaries." He then went on to portray the doomed and deeply troubled pansexual poet, Arthur Rimbaud in Agnieszka Holland's film version of Christopher Hampton's play "Total Eclipse."

As one half of the star struck lovers in Australian director Baz Luhrmann's screen-adaptation of William Shakespeare's ultimate love story "Romeo and Juliet," Leonardo was paired with rising star Claire Danes in this strangely anachronistic, contemporary updating of the story, set in a neo-modern Verona Beach. He was also featured that same year as Meryl Streep's delinquent-to-the-point-of- criminal son in "Marvin's Room," another adaptation of a play. Sandwiched between the brilliant performances of Streep and Diane Keaton, Leonardo also had the opportunity to work again with Robert DeNiro, whose TriBeca Films produced the movie.

Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom cast Leonardo in the role of Arnie for the critically acclaimed film "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" His performance was extraordinary and earned him an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 1994 at the age of nineteen.


By this time, our young actor had run the gamut of T.V and commercial acting and wanted to pursue film acting. The break came in 1992 when Michael Caton-Jones cast Leonardo in the much sought after role of Tobias Wolff in his big-screen adaptation of Wolff's best selling novel "This Boy's Life." Co-staring alongside Robert DeNiro and Ellen Barkin, "This Boy's Life," continues to be one of Leo's favorite acting experiences.

Realizing any actor needs a film credit under his belt for future big screen work, Leonardo was cast in the B-grade feature, "Critters III." Before the year was out, he was invited to join the cast of the hit ABC sitcom, "Growing Pains" playing the role of Luke, a troubled homeless boy taken in by the Seavers.


Always drawn towards performing, Leonardo started auditioning for parts in 1988, at the age of fourteen and appeared in a series of commercials and educational films. From that point he navigated a gradual hill up the acting chain. From bit parts on soap operas, to bubble gum commercials, the first "regular" gig was on the series "Parenthood," (which lasted all of three episodes).


Leonardo was born in Hollywood, California on November 11, 1974. He attended Seeds University Elementary School at UCLA where he also took summer courses in performance art before moving on to the Center for Enriched Studies in Los Angeles. After CES, the next step was to enroll at John Marshall High School in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. Having been exposed to the world of underground art from an early age, Leonardo was instilled with a sense that creativity was a hugely important thing. Early on, he thought of becoming an actor.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Leonardo DiCaprio Talks About "Blood Diamond"

Leonardo DiCaprio’s in the enviable position of possibly competing against himself for Best Actor honors this year. DiCaprio earned high praise for his leading role in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, and reviews of his performance in Blood Diamond are equally as positive.

Blood Diamond was directed by Edward Zwick and stars DiCaprio as an ex-mercenary who now makes his living trading diamonds for arms.

The Appeal of Blood Diamond: “First off on the script, it was such a powerful character. It was such a powerful storyline and that’s what you look for first. I wasn’t personally going out seeking films with a social and political message, just to do it for the sake of doing it.

It has to have an entertainment value. It has to be a good movie and it has to convey a message without the audience feeling they are being preached to, and I really felt this script accomplished that.

To me, it was very representative of a huge issue in the world today of corporate responsibility and what these corporations do, and certainly Africa has been a prime target for it - all the way to gold and rubber and all kinds of other natural resources. And here was this character that was exploiting others that were less fortunate than him, dealing in the black market and not really being conscious of the world he lives in. I just felt it was a really powerful character.

…It was really Ed Zwick and Marshall [Herskovitz] who learned about the diamond trade specifically and brought the political aspects into this story, but in a way that I didn’t feel was preachy. In a way that I felt was authentic. So, of course, it’s always great to do a movie that you find is entertaining, but also can give some sort of political or social message and I felt this movie did that.”

Working on the Accent: DiCaprio captured the South African accent by spending a lot of time with the locals. DiCaprio said, “…Drinking beers with them, hearing their stories - a lot of guys from the South African military. I got to hang out with this guy [who was] really a sort of military expert and just listening to them talk. And, of course, I had an accent coach and he was there guiding me through it. But we had conversations with these people, listening to their stories, [and] made them say sentences over and over again. That’s just the kind of thing you do.

I wanted to definitely go to Africa early, because that whole area was completely alien to me. I had never really spent any time in Africa, let alone [with] a white South African man and their stories and accents. It was completely alien when I first heard of the film. It was about going there.”

Preparing for Blood Diamond: “There was a lot of military training too and we had a great stunt team too. We did a lot of faux military activities of hunting in the bush and tracking in the bush, what it was like to track in the bush. Hanging out with a lot of guys in the South African army. And really, that was really the tough stuff – getting that military background, because they are some of the best trained guys in the entire world as far as tracking is concerned and living in the bush. I didn’t go out and live in the bush for a week or even a day, but it was a matter of doing these exercises with them.

There is a certain amount you can get from books. You need to speak with the real people and ask specific questions that affect your character. Questions you have about your character, otherwise you’d be skimming through hundreds of books trying to get that specific answer.

What I was really overwhelmed with by Africa was its tremendous natural beauty. I got to go to some pretty amazing places. Every other weekend we got a day or two off and [could] go on a safari or see the natural wonders of Africa. If anyone gets the opportunity to go there, it’s something you have to do in your lifetime.”

What Did Leonardo DiCaprio Take Away From This Experience?: “You know, certainly paying a character like this who was taking advantage of the poverty around him and taking advantage of the continent, it posed for a lot of…what’s the word? It was uncomfortable as an actor to portray this man in front of an African crew in locations like Mozambique where there was a tremendous amount of poverty. Mozambique is a country that is having an economic resurgence, but 4 out of 10 people supposedly have HIV or AIDS. It’s an astounding [number].

What I was left with after spending time with Africa, and this is not at all to sound trivial, but it really was the power of the human spirit there. The fact that these people have been through so much. They have been in a civil war for 30 years, the poverty rate, but literally, people were still dancing in the streets. The joy, the energy, the happiness they exuded to everyone was unbelievable. It made me come back home and sort of not want to listen to anyone’s problems. I don’t want to hear what we as Americans have to deal with. When you are immersed in a place like that for six months and you see the extreme levels of what people have to deal with there, yet they are able to keep a positive attitude. You just don’t want to hear people’s problems out here anymore.”

Working with Djimon Hounsou: DiCaprio had nothing but praise for Hounsou’s work on Blood Diamond. “I mean, his character is really is the heart and soul of the movie, you know? The story of a man trying to find his son,” said DiCaprio, “and he embodied this character and the word is electrifying, the intensity that he gives in his performance. What can I say? He and I were kind of alone on set and it was me and him, and there is no other actor who could have given this performance. He is astounding in this movie and the energy and the intensity that you get off him as an actor, you get to play off each other every day. He is quite a brilliant actor.”

Injuries on the Set of Blood Diamond: “Djimon got banged up; I hurt my knee. There are some of the sequences in this movie that Ed set up, a full week of squibs and diving behind cars. …I’ve never been in an action sequence that was that well choreographed.”

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Knowledge of the Diamond Industry Before Shooting the Film: “I think I was like anybody else. I had heard whispers of it, but until I got there and until I started to do the research I didn’t really quite understand the immense impact, certainly on Sierra Leone and other places in Africa. I had heard, certainly, the Kanye West song for example and bits of it in conversation, but it wasn’t until I really got to Africa where I heard the firsthand accounts and started to read the books and learn about it that I really learned what was really going on. What really had happened.”