Ranking the Leonardo DiCaprio roles that stole our hearts (because it’s his birthday!)
Today we celebrate the most blessed event of the season: On this day in November 41 years ago, Leonardo DiCaprio was born into the world. I can say with confidence that my life would not be the same without him.
As a child of the ’90s, I was engrossed with his early roles. I read all of the teen magazines he graced, pasted his face all over my Trapper Keeper and practiced writing “Mrs. Elizabeth Ann Entenman DiCaprio” on every available surface. My friends were enthralled by JTT (Jonathan Taylor Thomas, duh) but I just didn’t see the appeal. JTT was so young, and lacked the wisdom and experience of Leo. I had it bad. I was in love.
Since then, Leo’s career has only gotten better and better, and my love grows deeper and deeper every year. To celebrate the joyous event that is his birthday, let us reminisce about and rank all of Leo’s roles that stole our hearts.
7. Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street
I know Jordan Belfort is technically the bad guy, but Leo plays him so well. He has a knack for simultaneously playing the bad seed, making you fall in love with the bad seed and justifying the bad seed’s actions.
6. Jay Gatsby, The Great Gatsby
Decent movie, excellent Leo watching. The film isn’t fantastically remarkable by any measure, but I shamelessly watch it every now and again to gawk at the beauty that is Leonardo DiCaprio in a tuxedo.
5. Frank Abagnale Jr., Catch Me If You Can
This movie is pure fun, made even more fun by Leo’s enduring optimism as Frank Abagnale Jr. He managed to turn a white collar criminal into a lovable guy you know is breaking the law, but you still weirdly find yourself rooting for. Plus, the Leonardo DiCaprio + Tom Hanks formula is one of the greatest.
4. Frank Wheeler, Revolutionary Road
Revolutionary Road is not a happy movie. It’s not inspirational, uplifting or particularly fun. So why do I love this movie? Because it rekindled the magical chemistry between Leo and his Titanic co-star, Kate Winslet (oh, and Kathy Bates too). They are just wonderful together, and I love seeing Leo’s family man side.
3. Luke Brower, Growing Pains
Let’s take things back to where they all began—a heartwarming sitcom called Growing Pains. Confession: I never understood the appeal of Kirk Cameron’s character, Mike Seaver; I was more of a Ben Seaver kind of girl. That is, until Luke showed up. The Seavers took in the abandoned homeless teen played by—YOU GUESSED IT—Leo. I fell hard and fast for the fresh-faced actor and cried for days when he left the show to be with his dad.
2. Romeo, Romeo + Juliet
If you didn’t fall in love with Leo during his stint as Luke Brower, perhaps you were introduced to him in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. In 1996, eight-year-old me was not allowed to watch this movie starring my love from Growing Pains. I mean, the star-crossed lovers fall for each other while on Ecstacy for god’s sake. But I digress. The second this movie came out on VHS, I watched it late at night so many times I just about broke our VCR. Leo’s performance with Claire Danes reminds me of the exciting rush of being young and in love.
1. Jack Dawson, Titanic
This is the movie, people. The movie that launched the career of a lifetime. What is there to say about Titanic that hasn’t already been said? It’s beautiful. It’s emotional. It’s moving. It’s Leo’s most beloved work. He stole our hearts as Jack Dawson and will hold on to them for years to come.
Happy birthday, Leo!
(Images via 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Dreamworks, Warner Bros, ABC)