Leonardo DiCaprio recently scooped up the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Hugh Glass, a 19th century fur trapper in The Revenant, which was shot entirely with natural light in the remote Canadian wilderness.
DiCaprio paused for an embrace with former Titanic co-star and friend Kate Winslet moments before accepting the award from Julianne Moore. “Humbled,” the 41-year-old actor thanked not only his predecessors and contemporaries, but most importantly his parents, George and Irmelin DiCaprio, who encouraged his talent from a young age–before we even knew him as Arnie Grape or Jack Dawson.
“To my parents, thank you for listening to an overly ambitious, slightly annoying 13-year-old kid who wanted to go on auditions every day after school. I would not be standing here without you.”
Leonardo DiCaprio’s former co-star Johnny Depp recently admitted about his relationship with then 19-year-old Leo on the set of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
“I tortured him. I really did,” Depp said according to Entertainment Weekly. For both actors, Gilbert Grape was just the tip of the iceberg, but it was especially so for DiCaprio.
According to E! Online, critics are already speculating that DiCaprio will go on to take the Academy Award for Best Actor. This is DiCaprio’s first SAG win and if the last 10 years of SAG winners going on to collect Oscars are any indication, the coveted statuette may be in Leo’s near future. He has now won every major acting award including three Golden Globes in his more than 20-year career except for the most prestigious, the Oscar.
In November 2015 the SAG Foundation honored Leonardo DiCaprio at their 30th Anniversary Celebration with the Actors Inspiration Award for his onscreen and philanthropic work. SAG Foundation president JoBeth Williams said of DiCaprio:
“To commemorate our landmark anniversary, we’re excited to honor Leonardo DiCaprio’s outstanding achievements with our Actors Inspiration Award. With beloved and acclaimed films as diverse as Titanic, to The Wolf of Wall Street, to his latest film The Revenant, Leonardo’s career is a gold standard example of his craft. Also, his work with LDF [Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation] demonstrates his commitment to conservation and protection of our environment.”
DiCaprio recognized his parents in his acceptance speech, crediting much of his success to their constant, unwavering support:
“Irmelin, George–I would not be receiving this award and I would not be the actor that I am or be able to do any of the philanthropy that this job has given me the opportunity to have, and I wouldn’t be the person I am without the both of you, so thank you.”
Leonardo DiCaprio frequently and alternately takes either parent as his guest to awards shows. His father recently appeared with his famous son at the SAG Awards.
The native Angeleno grew up in 1970s Los Angeles and after his parent’s divorce at the age of one, lived with his German-born mother in a run-down part of Hollywood that he has likened to scenes out of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. The only child of George, of Italian and German descent and an artist and cult comic book distributor, and Irmelin, of German and Russian descent and a former legal secretary, Leonardo Wilhelm performed under the stage name ‘Lenny Williams’ early on at the urging of his agent, but later reverted to his given name.
Leonardo DiCaprio first appeared in television commercials and later landed parts in recurring TV series like popular 1980s Roseanne and Growing Pains. Soon thereafter young Leo had an opportunity to act alongside Robert De Niro in the adapted memoir This Boy’s Life. He was just 15 years old, but had already immersed himself in watching historical cinema and honing his craft.
The 90s brought a boom for DiCaprio, who was lauded for his performance as the mentally challenged Grape in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, a drug addict in The Basketball Diaries, Romeo in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and Dawson in James Cameron’s Titanic, the latter of which won Leo international acclaim, becoming the highest grossing film of all time to that point.
Leonardo DiCaprio followed a diverse career trajectory with Catch Me If You Can, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, The Departed, Revolutionary Road, Inception, Django Unchained, The Great Gatsby and The Wolf of Wall Street among many others over the years. The celebrated actor has been nominated for five Academy Awards, 11 Golden Globes and seven SAG Awards, with more than 150 award nominations and 48 wins in all.
An environmental conservationist and philanthropist, the actor invests time and money into meaningful projects aimed at preserving the oceans, forests, wildlife and climate. He has awarded over $30 million in grants supporting innovative and impactful environmental projects in collaboration with global environmental leaders and organizations.
“Humbled” and humble, Leonardo DiCaprio has earned the respect and admiration of his peers, his parents and his many longtime fans, Oscar or not.
[Image by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]