Monday, December 27, 2010

2010: The year that Leonardo DiCaprio was King of the world

In the past a large portion of child actors go through a one hit wonder spell and then they succumb to alcohol, drugs or whatever they can get their hands on. It happened to Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone) when he was found in possession of Marijuana and large quantities of other controlled substances. Edward Furlong, the child star of Terminator 2: Judgement Day had longstanding battles with alcohol and drugs that led to countless interrogations with the law. So it’s quite a rare sight to see someone like Leonardo DiCaprio come up the ranks from child TV star to Oscar nominated leading man.

It was 1991 when Leo made his on-screen debut in low budget horror Critters 3. In a career so far spanning just under twenty years, he has had collaborations with such movie giants as James Cameron (Titanic), Steven Spielberg (Catch Me If You Can), Danny Boyle (The Beach) and of course Martin Scorsese of which they worked together on four pictures (so far!). Not to mention three Academy award nominations how could the 36-year-old follow up with what has been an incredibly successful career thus far…

March saw the release of Martin Scorsese’s noir thriller Shutter Island. Based on Dennis Lehane’s novel, DiCaprio once more took the lead as US Marshall Teddy Daniels on the hunt for a missing patient who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane. The leading man gave an emotional and thought provoking performance as the troubled US Marshall who must overcome personal demons to find the murderess. Shutter Island went on to win rave reviews and brought in $295 worldwide at the box office. DiCaprio was quoted as saying it was his most challenging role to date - referring to the physical and emotional approaches that was required to make the role believable.

To follow up such a stellar performance in Shutter Island required something special even for Leonardo DiCaprio to achieve. In July audiences were introduced to Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to The Dark Knight with what can only be described as a unique film experience. The ingredients including a multi-layered plot, dazzling visual effects, intense action sequences and an international ensemble cast headed by Mr DiCaprio, Inception was to be the most successful movies of 2010. Continuing the trend of mentally troubled characters, Leo stars as Cobb a skilled thief specialising in stealing secrets from people’s subconscious. But then he’s hired to do the impossible - “Inception” - to plant an idea into someone’s mind. If he succeeds, he can be reunited with his estranged children, if not he will be lost forever. He effortlessly anchors the film with raw emotion and showcased his action abilities to give a stunning performance.

To give two such performances in a career is impressive, but to do it in a year is just showing off. Yet he is not the type of person to show off a flashy motor or his lavish homes in LA and New York. He is very much a conservative player in Hollywood who likes to keep his cards close to his chest, which is a rare sight these days. Outside of the film world he is a committed environmentalist who partakes in numerous activist events. He has reported as driving a hybrid car and having solar panels installed in his home. In previous interviews he has singled out that Global Warming is the number one environmental challenge facing the world today.

In November 2010, DiCaprio donated $1,000,000 to WCS at Russia's tiger summit. DiCaprio arrived late after two near-miss air flights, causing the Russian Prime minister, Vladimir Putin, to describe him as a "muzhik" or "real man".

Later on in December 2010 he was announced as the highest grossing actor of this year with Shutter Island and Inception collectively earning around $1.1bn worldwide. Next for Leo is the starring role in Clint Eastwood’s biopic of J. Edgar which focuses on the founding figure of the F.B.I. J. Edgar Hoover. If he was to think of himself other than the world’s leading man at the minute he must be dreaming.

Written By Michael Cunneen