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Hollywood Insider’s Tribute to Leonardo DiCaprio
No one actor brings more excitement from both audiences and critics alike than the once in a lifetime Leonardo DiCaprio. You cannot deny it. Unlike many actors who’ve appeared in blockbuster franchises or series, DiCaprio has been noted for never appearing in such types of films in order to attain success, instead relying solely on his acting chops through riskier independent films. The Hollywood Reporter put it this way: “Leo is the franchise.” Well said.
So why does he stand out? He doesn’t do method acting, nor does he appear in massive films with large markets. What mysterious gift does he hold that no one person has come close to matching? We never seem to figure it out, but at least here are some observations as to why Leo is the defining talent of an entire generation.
Dedication is the Name of the Game
Simply put, DiCaprio has a command on the screen that forces you to keep your eyes on him. And as witnessed by many who have worked with him, he puts in hours of study for every role. Though he technically isn’t a method actor (more on that later) he puts in the work necessary to churn out masterful performances. His dedication is shown through his desire to focus on one film at a time. In a world where we see actors put out two, three, and on a rare occasion four movies in a single year, Leo tends to spread it out, especially during the course of this most recent decade. From 2011-2019, he appeared in six films. It may not appear like a crazy tool to acting, but giving yourself to a project is a must, and Leo gets that better than most. Just ask how much he enjoyed The Revenant.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Every Role & Performance – 1980s-2019
Survival of the Fittest: Adapting is Key
DiCaprio’s wide range of roles is apparent. But it’s the way he transitions into each one almost seamlessly that is mesmerizing. Watching his performances you can tell he isn’t what anyone would call a “method” actor. In fact, he breaks character after every cut, changing into his role at the snap of a thumb.
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We hold an almost mystical respect for those who are the classic method actors (Daniel Day-Lewis and Marlon Brando come to mind), but DiCaprio shapes himself during each scene without any real work. His ability to instantly become a mentally deranged man, a loner tycoon, or a wolf of wall street is, to me, more impressive than those who go over the top in the name of acting. I love actors who truly take it seriously, but sometimes I hear stories and think, “Isn’t acting supposed to be just that?” Watching Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood showcased the rare prowess of DiCaprio’s presence on screen. During the scene where his character is playing the villain of a new western series, DiCaprio takes a man through a roller coaster of emotions and dynamics in just under eighteen minutes.
“Rick F***ing Dalton.” That moment of catharsis for Rick Dalton was the crown jewel of arguably the finest eighteen minutes of acting I’ve seen. Knowing that DiCaprio just did it, no hardcore prep or legendary stories (The Revenant is about the closest he’s come to “method”), but just played his part when someone said “Action.” Then to come back to reality after the scene ends is the true showcase of a great actor.
The Last of a Dying Breed?
Leo represents a certain type of actor: the Hollywood Star. And no, I don’t mean those action stars or franchise celebs we love to follow. I mean the kind of actor who, with each film, draws everyone to see what greatness will be presented to them. Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart…the list goes on and on. The actors who could go from one role to another with a smile and ease of talent. When you see their name on a trailer or poster, you go to that film because they are in it. Not because of the title or legacy the film is tied to. No, that actor and that alone. When I see a DiCaprio film, I see it because he’s in it, and most days that’s the only reason I do.
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32 Facts on Leonardo DiCaprio
Leo is classy and public, staying away from the drama but letting people take his photo and attending the events because that is what’s asked of leading actors. DiCaprio neither falls into the traps of fame nor tries to be a rebel. He walks the fine line of the occupation, demanding respect and awe with each performance, letting his films do the talking. While some of the great actors we see today like Christian Bale and Joaquin Phoenix are just as jaw-dropping at times, they fall into that hardcore method actor who bucks the trend or falls prey to some of the casualties actors face when in Hollywood. DiCaprio has found the key to perfectly balancing his fame and fortune with class, respect, and privacy in a way that adds to his legacy as an actor.
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DiCaprio seems to be the very last of the elite line of talent that graced our screens for decades. It is important that as the industry shifts and morphs, someone somewhere learns from DiCaprio and takes on the mantle of the class actor that leads his or her respected generation. Like my post on a certain sports star, those once in a lifetime talents only come once every century or so. Let’s just be sure to enjoy what DiCaprio has been giving us now before we inevitably lose the greatest actor of this century.
We, at Hollywood Insider, will continue to fan over you, our legend Leonardo DiCaprio. We wish you continued success and we know you are going to keep dazzling us all. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for charming us all for decades. You inspire us. We adore you. That moment when you won your much deserved Oscar, we cried with you out of pure elation. We will continue to support you and cheer for you with growing exuberance and, above all, love.
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Merrick Sinclair is a film journalist with a passion for cinema, Hollywood and filmmaking since a young age. Merrick focuses on reviews and features here at Hollywood Insider, and takes careful thought as to the impact cinema has on culture and what that means for us. Whether they be old or new, blockbuster or independent, Merrick understands the role movies have on society and how each individual has their own unique experience with movies. Merrick hopes to unpack his observations with clarity for readers while allowing them to walk away with their own opinions on any given topic.