Unsurprisingly, the Titanic actor with an extraordinary career did not have an ordinary upbringing.
Leonardo DiCaprio credits his father, George, and his unconventional lifestyle with shaping his outlook and acting career. George used to be a performance artist and comic book distributor when Leo was growing up. Leo’s mother, Irmelin Indenbirken, is a German actor and producer. Although she and George divorced when Leo was only one, Leo said he was raised by both parents in a nurturing environment that could be considered “co-parenting” today.
George worked as comic book distributor in the 1970s and took Leo to related events. “At a young age, I was exposed to, like, the most hardcore hippie subculture any young man would be subject to, with the Fabulous Freak Brothers, Zap, and Weirdo comics,” Leo said in a 2010 interview.
George even wrote a comic based on the writings of counterculture (and LSD) guru Timothy Leary. As far back as 2006, Leo was attached to produce and star in a Leary biopic but nothing has materialized.
George also took his young son along to rock shows.
“The earliest memory I have is me at some hippie concert with my dad,” Leo said.
“There was an audience of hundreds of people chanting for the band, and my dad scooted me on stage–I don’t know how old I was, probably three or so–and I got up there and tap-danced for hundreds of people.”
Besides exposing Leo to a variety of people and culture, George has helped his son decide which scripts to pursue and which ones to toss. Leo had initially passed on a script about famed French poet Rimbaud, but his literary-minded dad convinced him to take a second look. “He explained to me that Rimbaud was the James Dean of his time.” The resulting film, Total Eclipse, didn’t move a lot of tickets but Leo was satisfied with his role.
Perhaps George had a hand in helping Leo turn down Spider-Man and Robin.
A perpetual bachelor, Leo often brings one of his parents along to awards shows and functions. He brought George, 76, with him to the Oscar Nominees luncheon earlier this year.
“My father has always been a huge force with me,” the younger DiCaprio told GQ in 2011. George’s guidance has led him to pick a variety of roles leading up to his Oscar-nominated performance in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
“My dad always told me, ‘Go out there, son, and whatever you do, I don’t care if you’re successful or not, just have an interesting life,’ ” DiCaprio once told Parade.