Leonardo DiCaprio often drives to Silver Lake to visit his father. Along the way, the actor passes Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue. An intersection he knows all too well, having spent his childhood there. During those early days, anyone in the area often witnessed prostitutes standing on the street corners. Alleyways served as the area where junkies often met to smoke crack and shoot up heroin. The streets were filled with plenty of crime. Eventually, the neighborhood transformed into the center for the “hipster” culture.
DiCaprio has come a long way from his childhood days of poverty. Recently appearing in Martin Scorsese’s film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” DiCaprio was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of real life stockbroker Jordan Belfort. The film depicts Belfort and cohorts as they obtain an obnoxious amount of wealth through scams. The wealth led to vulgar excesses that included infidelity, alcohol and drugs.
Though DiCaprio refused to partake in the dark side of life during poverty or stardom, he knows both worlds all too well. His journey out of poverty began when he won a scholarship to University Elementary School. He made friends with classmates and often spent time in their expensive homes that exuded opulent wealth. He determined early on that acting was the way to escape the financial situation in which he and his parents lived.
DiCaprio was a mere 15 years old when Robert De Niro chose him to co-star in the 1992 file “This Boy’s Life.” Though pleased with the paycheck, DiCaprio became mesmerized by the challenge of acting. His next film, “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” without a doubt proved that the young man chose the right profession. Now 39, DiCaprio remains adamant against venturing into the dark side that many equate with Hollywood fame and success. He saw many participating in the party scene as a means of “fitting in” or crumbling under the pressure of criticism.
Throughout his career, DiCaprio has portrayed many struggling characters. From “The Gangs of New York” and “Titanic” to “Catch Me if You Can” and “The Great Gatsby,” DiCaprio plays the part of people struggling out of poverty. Each time, he gives the audience a commanding performance. After all, he has lived through the experience in real life. Hopefully, DiCaprio serves as a role model for other young hopefuls while providing us with many more years of entertainment.