Teen Beat, Tiger Beat, 16, Bop: these tween rags introduced us to all our first crushes. Every Tuesday, we remember the dudes that decorated our photo binders. This week, we reflect on the spectacular early career of one Leonardo DiCaprio.
Claims to Fame: Growing Pains, then This Boy's Life, then What's Eating Gilbert Grape, then The Basketball Diaries… then Romeo + Juliet and Titanic made him absolutely legendary. Now it's being a fancy-schmancy award-winner or whatever; most recently, he cleaned up at the Golden Globes, winning Best Actor in a Comedy for Martin Scorsese's Wolf of Wall Street.
Why We Loved Him: Now, Leo's 39 and is a Serious Actor With Serious Roles, but it's hard to forget the time when "Leonardo DiCaprio" was synonymous with "OUCH MY HORMONES." You can even ask Amanda Bynes about how fine Leo was.
Dude was like, almost Bieber-level. Maybe bigger. Look at him! We're dying. Those eyeballs!
Truth is, Leo could always act. What's Eating Gilbert Grape is an amazing film, and an early showcase for both Leo, who played a developmentally-disabled boy, and Johnny Depp, who played his older brother.
This Boy's Life is of equally serious and difficult subject matter, especially for a boy still in his late teens — based on the memoirs of Tobias Wolff, Leo played a rebellious teenager whose mom marries an abusive alcoholic played by Robert DeNiro.
Growing Pains was... well, it was probably a lot of work for a kid.
Eventually, Leo got a little older, and casting directors started to realize his dreamboat potential. He was typically cast as loyal, brooding, lovelorn boys from the other side of the tracks, whether in Leo's first first foray into the world of Great Gatsby director Baz Luhrmann, Romeo + Juliet…
(Leo was so much better for Claire Danes than Jordan Catalano, you guys, even if this plot turned out very poorly.)
The funny thing is, while Leo was viewed differently when he was a kid, there wasn't really any off-time in his career. His heartthrob reputation raised some non-believers' eyebrows 2002 rolled around and bestowed young Leo with starring roles in both a Spielberg (Catch Me if You Can) and a Scorsese (Gangs of New York), but eventually we all got used to it. After all, The Basketball Diaries was pretty serious business.
Leo would go on to cultivate solid working relationships with major auteurs. He continued his work with Scorsese; he won his first Golden Globe from The Aviator in 2005, and The Wolf of Wall Street earned him his second. Baz Luhrmann would continue to cast him in roles post-Romeo + Juliet, including a starring role in The Great Gatsby. Quentin Tarantino recently added Leo to his roster, too; Leo played the main villain in Django Unchained.
While he never really stopped working, the sort of role he got cast in definitely changed. Jay Gatsby is a little closer to his previous style (smart, beautiful outcast that is obsessed with you), but Calvin Candie, J. Edgar Hoover, and Jordan Belfort are far cries from Jack Dawson. Still, the dude has chosen his film roles super-carefully, and crushes it pretty much every time he's onscreen. Good for you, Leo! You kept it together.
As for his personal life, Leo has garnered quite a reputation for dating supermodels — and now that he's over a decade past his mid-20s, he has a rep for dating much younger supermodels. His latest rumored lady? 21-year-old model Tori Garrn. The pair were spotted together at Cannes Film Festival in May, and were caught locking lips after Leo's big win on Sunday!
Did you have a poster of Leo on your wall? Let us know in the comments!