Sure, Leonardo DiCaprio might be a household name nowadays. But the Academy Award nominee was once an up-and-coming nobody. Long before he froze to death in the icy waters of Titanic’s Atlantic Ocean, Leo was just another young kid trying to make a go of it in Hollywood, which led to some questionable career choices.
One of the most well-known was 18-year-old Leo’s decision to turn down the role of Max Dennison in classic Disney comedy Hocus Pocus. The film went on to be a runaway success and, because he passed on Max, Leo admits he also passed on “more money than I ever dreamed of.”
Making this little tidbit of Tinseltown trivia all the juicier is the fact that Leo didn’t even have another gig lined up when he said no to Disney. He was hoping to land a part in the small indie venture What’s Eating Gilbert Grape but tells Variety he hadn’t even auditioned for the Gilbert Grape part before turning down Hocus Pocus. “I don’t know where the hell I got the nerve,” says the now 39-year-old Wolf of Wall Street star.
“You live in an environment where you’re influenced by people telling you to make a lot of money and strike while the iron’s hot,” he continues. “But if there’s one thing I’m very proud of, it’s being a young man who was sticking to my guns.”
The instinct would prove to be a good one. It was after Leo wowed in Gilbert Grape as Johnny Depp’s autistic younger brother Arnie that he met famed director Martin Scorsese and they began brainstorming future projects together. The rest, of course, is history.