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His Road to Fame

His blue eyes are famous,
girls love his smile, and
he has fans
He's the star of Romeo
and Juliet
and Titanic.

He's the star of Romeo and Juliet and Titanic. But Leonardo Di Caprio wasn't always famous. In 1988, he was only a boy with no money. He was in school, but he wasn't a good student. Why is he now a star? This is Leo's story.

A Hollywood Child

How did this handsome young actor start? Young actors in the United States usually go to Hollywood in California. They go because people make movies there. Leo didn't go to Hollywood, he always lived there and Hollywood was his home. Leo's mother and father, Irmelin Idenbirken and George Di Caprio, lived in New York. Then they moved to California. In 1974 they had a son, Leonardo. But they had problems, and George moved away from the family home. Leo was only one year old, and he stayed with his mother. But his father visited him every day and the family was happy.

There are beautiful houses in Hollywood, but it isn't all beautiful. There are bad streets in Hollywood too, and Leo and his mother lived on one. There were a lot of problems and there were drugs on the streets. Later, Leo and his mother moved to a new home. Leo was a happy boy, but he wasn't always good. He liked playing and having fun. School wasn't interesting for him.

His first time on TV was at five years old. He was on the children's show, Romper Room. But he always wanted to play, and the show's producers were angry with him. Leo wasn't on television again for nine years. But television wasn't the only interesting thing for the young boy. He liked reading books and watching movies. He liked animals and he loved the ocean. His mother's father and mother lived in Germany, and Leo often went there on vacations. He knows a lot of German.

Leo's brother, Adam Starr, was an actor too. He made a lot of money from only one TV commercial. Then, of course, Leo wanted to act too. But a lot of people want to act. It's difficult for new actors because there aren't jobs for every actor in Hollywood. Actors usually audition for a part on a movie or television show. The director watches, and he gives the part to the right actor.

Leo went to a lot of auditions. Often he didn't get the jobs and then he was unhappy. But at fourteen he got a part in a TV commercial for Matchbox cars. After that he was in a lot of commercials and he had small parts in some famous television shows - Lassie, Roseanne and The Outsiders. Leo wanted to get big parts in television shows, but it was difficult. One woman in Hollywood didn't like his name. He tried the new name Lenny Williams, but he didn't like it. He quickly went back to Leonardo Di Caprio. Then he got an important part in the television show, Santa Barbara. The show was on TV five times every week, and Leo did a lot of work. There was a new script for every show.

Leo in the Movies

Leo wanted to act in Parenthood, a new television show. The story was from the hit movie of the same name. Leo watched the movie again and again, and he liked the story. He auditioned and he got the part. The show was on television every week. But it wasn't a hit and it stopped after four months.

In 1991, Leo was in the television show Growing Pains. The show started in 1985, but the producers wanted a handsome new actor. Leo played Luke Brower, a boy with no home. He did the job for a year.
Leo was a television actor now. He stopped going to school, but a teacher went to him at work. Leo liked that - it was fun. He was a good student.

Now he wanted to try movies. He got small parts in two movies, Critters 3 and Poison Ivy. Then he auditioned for a new movie, This Boy's Life, with Robert De Niro. Four hundred young actors auditioned for the part. Some actors didn't want to audition with De Niro because he was a famous star. But Leo didn't have a problem with that. The director, Michael Caton Jones, watched Leo with De Niro. He liked Leo's acting and Leo got the part.

The movie was from Tobias Wolff's book. Leonardo's character was very important because he played the teenage Tobias Wolff. In the movie, Tobias lives with his mother. His mother meets and then starts to love Dwight Hansen (Robert De Niro). Dwight wants to be Toby's father, but Toby doesn't like him.

Leo loved working with de Niro. A lot of actors go to acting schools, but Leo never went. His only acting teachers were actors. De Niro was very important to him.

The Right Man for the Job

Leo auditioned for a part in the movie, What's Eating Gilbert Grape. The director, Lassie Hallstrom, liked Leo, but he didn't want a handsome actor. Then Leo auditioned again. He was the right man for the job! Johnny Depp played Gilbert Grape in the movie. Juliette Lewis was Gilbert's friend Becky, and Leo was Gilbert's brother, Arnie. Arnie was a difficult character, but Leo did a very good job. He and Johnny Depp had a lot of fun. With Depp, Leo tried new things to eat. Depp liked watching Leo's face. Leo liked working with Juliette Lewis too and some people talked about a romance. Leo was famous after What's Eating Gilbert Grape. But he was only nineteen and he lived with his mother!

Suddenly, a lot of people in Hollywood wanted Leonardo Di Caprio in their movies. Sharon Stone wanted him for her new movie, The Quick and the Dead. Leo read the script and he liked it. He liked Sharon Stone, and he wanted to work with the director, Sam Raimi. Leo and Sharon kissed in the movie. People watched the movie and talked about a romance. But Leo and Sharon didn't have a romance. They're only friends. They kissed because their characters kissed in the script.

The Basketball Diaries
is the story of four teenage boys. They have problems with drugs. Leo loved the story and he wanted to be in the movie. He played Jim. James Madio, Patrick McGaw and Mark Wahlberg played Jim's friends. They made the movie in New York City. Leo loved New York! Leo and Mark Wahlberg often went to bars and cafes at night. They danced with girls and had fun. There were a lot of stories in the newspapers. People talked about him and his character in the movie. Were they the same? Did Leo take drugs too? The answer is no.

After The Basketball Diaries, Leo got a lot of movie scripts. His father started to read them for him, and Leo only looked at the good scripts. George is important to Leo. He was fifty in 1994, and Leo wanted to give him a car. He got a new car and went to his father's house. George smiled - the car was for him!

Total Eclipse
is the story of the famous French writer, Arthur Rimbaud. Leo played Rimbaud in the movie. David Thewlis played Rimbaud's friend, Paul Verlaine. Total Eclipse was difficult for Leo. Rimbaud and Verlaine were not only friends - they had a romance too. Leo didn't like kissing a man! Then Leo was in a new movie. And he was a big star.

The New Romeo

The director Baz Luhrmann wanted to make a movie of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. He asked Hollywood producers for the money, but they said no. They wanted new stories, and Romeo and Juliet was from 1595! Luhrmann wanted Leo for Romeo, but Leo didn't want the part. He didn't want to be in a movie of an old story.


But Luhrmann's script was for young people today. In his movie, Romeo and Juliet live in Verona Beach, USA, they drive cars and listen to today's music.

Shakespeare's characters are difficult, and Leo was unhappy about that too. Then he watched Keanu Reeves in the movie of Much Ado About Nothing which was from a Shakespeare story, and Reeves didn't have a problem.

Now Leo wanted to play Romeo. The producers were happy and Luhrmann got the money, but he didn't have a woman to play Juliet. Leo watched Claire Danes on her show, My So Called Life, and he talked with Luhrmann about her. She auditioned and she got the part.

They made the movie in Mexico. The work was difficult, and Leo got very sick from the food. One night Leo and a friend went to a bar in Mexico City. A man at the bar got angry, and he hit Leo's friend! But they finished the movie. It was a hit, and Leo was a big star. One fan even wanted his shirt!

People talked about his romances with Demi Moore, Naomi Campbell and Sharon Stone. But these stories were wrong. The actor's professional future is looking bright. "I can't say enough, that I am the product of good fortune. My main thing is that I just don't want to squander these opportunities that I have."

Source: English Digest


worldwide: all over the world (en todo el mundo)
handsome: a man who is very attractive (guapo, atractivo)
moved away from: left the family home (se fue de)
TV commercial:
an advert on TV (aviso para televisión)

audition: take a ‘test’ for a part in a movie (audicionan, realizan una prueba de actuación)
went back to: returned to (volvió a)
hit movie: a successful film (el éxito de taquilla)
my main thing: the most important thing to me (lo más importante para mí)
to squander: to spend ot to throw away (desperdiciar)





Leonardo moved to Hollywood in 1974.


Di Caprio first appeared on television when he was nine years old.


He often visited Germany because his grandparents lived there.


Leonardo Di Caprio's real name was Lenny Williams.


Parenthood was a very popular television show.


Leonardo played opposite Robert De Niro in a film called Poison Ivy.


Leo had a romance with Sharon Stone.


Leo's father George read all his scripts for him.





Leo played a famous French writer in this movie.


Leo played a teenage boy who has problems with drugs.


Leo played a boy who didn't like his stepfather.


In this movie Leo played a famous Shakespearean character.


In this other movie Leo played Johnny Depp's brother Arnie.