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Live Kicking magazine

 

There´s one fella who´s really making major tidal waves as a superb acting talent. And he´s only 21. His name is ....

 

Leonardo DiCaprio

 

Leonardo´s a pretty unusual name, isn´t it?

How I got my name is a cute little story. I don´t know if it´strue 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 mum´s from Germany, isn´t she?

(Laughs) Yeah. That´s what gives me the blond hair and small facial features. My dad´s family is Italian and he really looks it. He keeps saying that one day I´ll have a real manly nose. He means bigger! So I´m half Italian, too.

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

Well, I´ve been to Germany to visit my grandparents a few times. I wouldn´n say I´m fluent at German, but I´m pretty damn good. I can get around and buy an ice-cream cone or order a coffee. As for Italian, well, no, I don´t speak it - but we definitely cook Italian in our family. Pasta´s 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. They´ve always let me do what I want. And I think their decision was to make me discover stuff on my own, but tell me what´s right from wrong. I definitely think my dad taught me how to be a kind human being.

So, let´s get down to business... Are you going out with anyone?

No, I don´t have a girlfriend right now. I´m not the most sociable person in the world - I like to hang out with people I´ve 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. I´m 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 they´re 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, they´ll just love telling you how annoying I am sometimes.

You´re often compared to River Phoenix. Did you ever get the chance to meet him?

No. It´s terrible what happened to him. Such a loss - not just to the business, but also cos I´ve 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 you´re 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. That´s probably where River ran into trouble. I´m not going to lie to you - I´ve been to a couple of those clubs, too. But I completely stay away from that whole drug attitude.

We know you don´t like being seen as a hunk, but you´ve sure got stacks of fans ...

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

What´s your fan mail situation like?

I don´t 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! It´s 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 wasn´t something anyone taught me. I sort of knew it anyway. I obviously enjoy the attention - any actor would - but I´m not going to ride this moment of glory and sqeeze it to its last drop. I know there´s going to come a time when I´m not so hot - no actor is hot for their whole career - so I don´t take fame too seriously. I´m not focussing on that. I just wait for good jobs to come along and then take them.

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

There´s nothing I´m afraid of! I´m 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 wasn´t afraid at all. There was no way I was going to fall!

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

I´m sure I´ll get my own place eventually. I figure that if I´m going off to do movies and be out of town, why have an empty house sitting there all alone? I´m no mommy´s boy- don´t get me wrong - but I won´t move out until I have a long break from work. If I get enough guts to do it, maybe I´ll move to New York. It´s 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. I´ve always been a smart boy and I learn things quickly. Let´s just say, I guess I was smarter than most when I started thinking about sex.

How would you describe yourself?

Hmm. (Thinks) I´m a verbal person rather than somebody who will sit down and read, more external than internal. I´m 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, I´ll do it. It could be a small film or a small part - it doesn´t need to be a big epic film every time. That really doesn´t matter at all.

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