Leonardo DiCaprio picks the one role he’s “most proud of”

Leonardo DiCaprio rose to prominence in the early 1990s as one of Hollywood’s promising young actors with several spellbinding performances. Most notably, DiCaprio drew directors’ attention with his breakout roles in This Boy’s Life, in which he acted opposite Robert De Niro, and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, as he flawlessly portrayed Johnny Depp’s titular character’s developmentally disabled brother.

By the mid-1990s, DiCaprio had received further praise for his performances in The Basketball Diaries and Romeo + Juliet, but it was his landmark appearance in James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster Titanic that sealed his fate as the most sought-after name in Hollywood.

By the turn of the millennium, DiCaprio was the cream of the crop, but he was looking to shed his associated image as the romantic hero. Following an appearance in Danny Boyle’s The Beach in 2000, DiCaprio fell under Martin Scorsese’s searchlight, courtesy of his This Boy’s Life pal De Niro, just in time for 2002’s Gangs of New York.

“I got into this business because I worked with Robert De Niro, so I wanted to see everything he had ever done, and that led to this guy called Martin Scorsese that he had worked with a lot, and he is basically the greatest director around,” DiCaprio once told New York Foreign Press. “I became a huge fan of their movies, and ever since I was 16 years old, they have been my mentors, my icons and my heroes in the business.”

Following the success of Gangs of New York, in which DiCaprio starred alongside the evil butcher, Daniel Day-Lewis, Scorsese took DiCaprio under his wing as he had done with De Niro in the ’70s. This new partnership would boast a run of highly successful and thematically diverse films, namely The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Given their palpable father-son dynamic, it comes with little surprise that some of DiCaprio’s fondest career highlights fall within these five collaborative films. During the premiere of 2012’s Django Unchained, DiCaprio was asked by a CNN reporter to name his favourite role.

“If I had to choose one, it would probably be The Aviator, playing Howard Hughes,” he replied. “It’s a different set of circumstances when you’re able to say to yourself, ‘You know, someday I’m going to play this character,’ and then you get to develop it. And I got to develop it for over eight years, and then the great Martin Scorsese got to direct me in it. So that’s the one I’m probably the most proud of.”

Watch the trailer for Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2004 film, The Aviator, below.


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