I’d dismissed him as one of the pretty boys of Hollywood – a bit of obligatory eye-candy for the ladies (and some men). But then I watched him in Romeo and Juliet and it soon became clear Leonardo DiCaprio had begun his journey as one of the most-loved and talented actors of his generation.
Blockbuster Titanic followed in 1997, but then Leonardo seemed to keep a low profile until he took the lead role in The Beach in 2000. He was still a pretty boy, but now there was something else, something that made him mesmerising to watch. A few years later, he appeared in the brilliant Catch Me If You Can, and held his own in the bloodthirsty Gangs of New York, but an Oscar had still proved elusive.
Just when you thought he couldn’t get any better, Leo gave us Shutter Island, a psychological thriller of the highest calibre. The film Inception followed, and he was well and truly on his way to becoming an acting legend. Simply put, if Leonardo DiCaprio was in it then you knew it was going to be good. He was that rare type of actor who made the role work for him, pulling it on like an old familiar overcoat.
He was compelling to watch and impossible to pigeon-hole into any one role.
Quentin Tarantino then cast him as a moustache-twirling villain in gun-toting Django Unchained. A year later, he brought tragic literary character Jay Gatsby to life in a stylish version of The Great Gatsby.
But still no Oscar.
By now, people were asking questions. What on earth did Leonardo have to do? Later the same year, he was at it again, playing the thoroughly obnoxious character of Jordan Belfort in Wolf of Wall Street. I was convinced he’d get an Oscar, but he left empty-handed. This year, Leonardo has given us one of his finest roles to date – Hugh Glass in The Revenant. If you’ve not already seen it, I must warn you it’s not a film for the faint-hearted. To be honest, after we left the cinema I felt positively wrung out. As DiCaprio/Glass crawled along the ice to seek revenge for his dead son, I was there, crawling alongside.
To date, Leonardo hasn’t won an Oscar, but it’s not for the want of trying. Critics are saying his latest performance could make 2016 his year.
With 12 nominations, The Revenant looks set to sweep the board. Yet, until now, despite giving countless Oscar-worthy performances, DiCaprio always returns home empty-handed.
Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
Maybe next month, at the 88th Academy Awards, he will finally break the curse.
Goodness only knows he deserves it.