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Live Kicking magazine

 

Theres one fella whos really making major tidal waves as a superb acting talent. And hes only 21. His name is ....

 

Leonardo DiCaprio

 

Leonardos a pretty unusual name, isnt it?

How I got my name is a cute little story. I dont know if itstrue or not, though my father says it is. While my moter was pregnant with me - my parents were in Italy on their honeymoon, I guess - they were looking at something by Leonardo da Vinci in an art gallery when my mother felt a strong kick from me. So my dad said, "We should take that as a sign and name him Leonardo !"

Your mums from Germany, isnt she?

(Laughs) Yeah. Thats what gives me the blond hair and small facial features. My dads family is Italian and he really looks it. He keeps saying that one day Ill have a real manly nose. He means bigger! So Im half Italian, too.

Does that mean that you can speak fluent German and Italian then?

Well, Ive been to Germany to visit my grandparents a few times. I wouldnn say Im fluent at German, but Im pretty damn good. I can get around and buy an ice-cream cone or order a coffee. As for Italian, well, no, I dont speak it - but we definitely cook Italian in our family. Pastas actually my favourite food.

Are you a close family?

Oh, totally. My mom and my dad have been divorced for a long time, but - thank God - both of them have been able to be around me all the time. Theyve always let me do what I want. And I think their decision was to make me discover stuff on my own, but tell me whats right from wrong. I definitely think my dad taught me how to be a kind human being.

So, lets get down to business... Are you going out with anyone?

No, I dont have a girlfriend right now. Im not the most sociable person in the world - I like to hang out with people Ive known for the years. Now that, all of a sudden, more people are trying to become my friends, I have to be careful when choosing those to be around. I like to play pool and basketball a lot. Im basically a regular guy who likes to hang out with his friends.

Are your friends all actors?

No. I have a group of about 20 good friends and five or six solid good friends. I love annoying my friends more than anything! When theyre all sitting around watching TV and not wanting to do anything, I sort of get up, jump around and annoy them. If you ask any of my friends, theyll just love telling you how annoying I am sometimes.

Youre often compared to River Phoenix. Did you ever get the chance to meet him?

No. Its terrible what happened to him. Such a loss - not just to the business, but also cos Ive heard he was a great person to be around. I would have loved to have met him cos I think he was one of the most talented people in my age group.

So we can take it that youre not a part of the hip Hollywood scene?

I think sometimes kids who are in the business tend to confuse acting with their personal lives. A lot of the time, they mix the two and make themselves actors off-screen as well. Thats probably where River ran into trouble. Im not going to lie to you - Ive been to a couple of those clubs, too. But I completely stay away from that whole drug attitude.

We know you dont like being seen as a hunk, but youve sure got stacks of fans ...

I think fans are one of the most important things an actor - or anyone making films - can have. Theyre the ones who support you and keep you going. Theyre the ones who buy the cinema tickets cos they want to see your work and expect good things of you.

Whats your fan mail situation like?

I dont get much fan mail any more cos I lost my teen audience when I left Growing Pains. I still appear in some American teen magazines - but they use the pictures they look of me when I was 12 years old! Its so embarrassing!. Back on the subject of fan mail, I think I once got sent a bra. That was the weirdest thing, sine it actually came from a guy!

Did any of your movie workmates - fellas like Robert De Niro and Johnny Depp - give you any advice about acting and dealing with the pressures of fame?

I learned some stuff from them, but it wasnt something anyone taught me. I sort of knew it anyway. I obviously enjoy the attention - any actor would - but Im not going to ride this moment of glory and sqeeze it to its last drop. I know theres going to come a time when Im not so hot - no actor is hot for their whole career - so I dont take fame too seriously. Im not focussing on that. I just wait for good jobs to come along and then take them.

Like The Basketball Diaries, Total Eclipse, This Boys Life and Whats Eating Gilbert Grape, in which you spent a couple of scenes hanging from the top of a pylon...

Theres nothing Im afraid of! Im joking. I imagine that skydiving or somthing like that would freak me out. In Gilbert Grape, I had a big cable strapped around my waist - these reinforced steel ropes - so I wasnt afraid at all. There was no way I was going to fall!

With all your success so far, how come you dont have a swish bachelor pad but still live with your mum instead?

Im sure Ill get my own place eventually. I figure that if Im going off to do movies and be out of town, why have an empty house sitting there all alone? Im no mommys boy- dont get me wrong - but I wont move out until I have a long break from work. If I get enough guts to do it, maybe Ill move to New York. Its a big step for a little boy like me!

When and how did you first learn about sex?

I never had the typical speech about the birds and the bees with my dad. Ive always been a smart boy and I learn things quickly. Lets just say, I guess I was smarter than most when I started thinking about sex.

How would you describe yourself?

Hmm. (Thinks) Im a verbal person rather than somebody who will sit down and read, more external than internal. Im also pretty independent - like, my parents do have a say in my career, but I make the decisions. No one can say to me, "You should do this film with such and such a big name for this amount of money." If I see actors and directors I want to work with, Ill do it. It could be a small film or a small part - it doesnt need to be a big epic film every time. That really doesnt matter at all.

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