From the moment I first saw Leonardo DiCaprio on television's "Growing Pains", I felt certain that this boy would grow up to become a Hollywood star. On the show, he easily outplayed co-stars Kirk Cameron and Jason Miller. In 1993, DiCaprio made a massive breakthrough on the big screen, starring in Lasse Hallström's What's Eating Gilbert Grape? and the Robert De Niro vehicle This Boys Life, and giving explosive performances in both. He was even Oscar nominated for the latter, and from these critical successes, DiCaprio went on to enjoy the rest of the 1990s as a teenage idol, dividing his time between appearing in teenage films and enjoying his youth - perhaps influenced by Jim Carroll, the real-life character he played in 1995's The Basketball Diaries.
In 1997, DiCaprio starred alongside Kate Winslet in the biggest box-office hit to date. Titanic was a critics' favourite as well, and the film gathered 11 Oscars at the Academy Awards, although none for DiCaprio. Titanic was arguably the pinnacle of his years as a youth actor, and after a small hiatus, he returned in Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can as a more mature performer.
Throughout the 2000s, DiCaprio has continued to work with renowned directors, including three times with Martin Scorsese (in Gangs of New York, The Aviator and The Departed), and he has consolidated his ability as an actor parallel with gradually having to let go of his boyish good-looks. The lanky, delicate boy of the early 1990s has become a more ruggedly good-looking man in his 30s, resembling Richard Burton more and more for each year that passes, both concerning looks and talent. Because it is the innate talent DiCaprio possesses which suggests that we haven't seen the very best of him yet.
This Boy's Life (1993)
"Searing character study is a showcase for masterful performances (including an eye-opener for young DiCaprio)." - Leonard Maltin
"Young DiCaprio makes a very strong impression in this, his first leading role." - CineBooks
What's Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993)
"Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Arnie, the retarded kid brother, has been nominated for an Academy Award, and deserves it. His performance succeeds in being both convincing and likable. " - Roger Ebert
"Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Arnie, the retarded kid
brother, has been nominated for an Academy Award, and deserves it. His
performance succeeds in being both convincing and likable." - CineBooks
The Basketball Diaries (1995)
"DiCaprio is well cast in a role originally intended for River Phoenix." - Leonard Maltin