Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio, born in November 1974, has become one of Hollywood’s most notable A-List actors and producers. He has been nominated for five Academy Awards and ten Golden Globe Awards. He has also been nominated by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. He scored a Globe for Best Actor in a Drama for The Aviator (2004) and also for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for The Wolf of Wall Street (2013).
What started as a career in television commercials and educational films became a recurring character on ABC’s Growing Pains. His next break was when he was selected to work with Robert De Niro in the 1992 feature This Boy’s Life. His path led him to co-star with Johnny Depp in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, a movie considered a box office success.
It was his role in Romeo + Juliet, with co-star Claire Danes, that put him on the Hollywood map and by 1997 he had reached stardom with his role of Jack Dawson, in James Cameron‘s Titanic. Although his boyish looks almost held him back, top producers recognized that his instinctive talent was rare and he was cast in such box office hits as Scorsese’s Gangs of New York and The Aviator (2004), which was a pet project of DiCaprio’s.
Today we celebrate DiCaprio’s successful career choices by taking a walk through his top ten most expensive films, which were all financially successful. Although we are not going to get into DiCaprio’s earnings and current asking price, suffice it to say he has reached the pinnacle of the business. He can have any movie produced based on his involvement and his A-list relationships are so strong, other acting professionals are eager to get on board with his projects.
10. J Edgar: $35 Million
Leonardo was said to have cut his standard $20 million per movie paycheck to $2 million just to work on this project with Clint Eastwood. The inner life of J. Edgar Hoover was produced on the big screen with taste and pure attention to detail. DiCaprio sat in the makeup chair for hours to become the older Hoover. The 37-year old actor was nominated for an Oscar for this role, although he did not win. The movie grossed $37,304,950 in domestic sales.
9. Shutter Island: $75 Million
Movie set in the 50’s, DiCaprio plays a U.S. Marshal who is investigating the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a mental hospital. The eerie setting, camera angles and special audio and visual effects made this one psychological thriller that kept audiences on the edge of their seats. This film brought in a worldwide gross of $294 million, making it one of Scorsese‘s top grossing pictures of his career.
8. The Aviator: $80 Million
Scorsese took pains to recreate the different years in which this film depicts. On film, you can see the look of Cinecolor and Technicolor. As the film progresses, the appearance of the film’s quality improves to match the times. This movie was DiCaprio’s production company, Appian Way, first project. So in addition to the demanding preparation for the role of Howard Hughes, Leonardo worked on the film as a whole. During the months of preparation, he spent a day listening to the memories of Jane Russell, one of Hugh’s amours. He also spent time with an OCD patient learning some of Hughes later affectations. The film grossed $213,741,459 worldwide, making this film a home run.
7. Django Unchained: $87 Million
Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed this popular western about the slavery industry and a clever bounty hunter. Leonardo’s role as plantation and slave owner, Calvin Candie, was slimy and he plays it well with that stereotypical Southern double talk among men. The audience mentally applauds when Candie (DiCaprio) is blown to bits by Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx. Django Unchained brought in a healthy $425,368,328 worldwide, at last count.
6. The Departed: $90 Million
One of his more gritty roles, this crime thriller, directed by Martin Scorsese, is actually a remake of a Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. The 2006 star-studded action film kept audience’s attention in 2006 while DiCaprio interacted with Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin. The movie was nominated for several awards and walked away with four during the 2007 Academy Awards ceremony, including Scorsese, who won Best Director for this film that grossed $289,847,354 worldwide.
5. The Wolf of Wall Street: $100 Million
DiCaprio is heralded for his outstanding depiction of Jordan Belfort, Wall Street’s fraudulent stockbroker who turned the brokerage district on its side with his opulent behaviors, spending and tastes. The movie was based on Belfort’s 2007 book, with the same name, that he wrote after finishing his prison sentence. DiCaprio mastered the role and was nominated for Best Actor for this year’s Academy Awards. Another combo effort from DiCaprio and Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street got an R rating, which ended up driving traffic into the theaters to see what all the hype was about. Sure enough in vivid color, we saw more sex, drugs and rock and roll than we’ve seen in the year’s movies altogether. The film grossed $255 million worldwide and the numbers are still coming in as it continues being shown in other countries.
4. Gangs of New York: $103 Million
This 2002 film took place in the mid-19th century and was filmed in the Five Points district of New York City. Miramax Films financed this project, that director Martin Scorsese had been trying to get going. Once DiCaprio signed on it was all systems go. There were considerable stalls on the production with reported squabbles between director and producer and the film ran over-budget of $103 million, which became a point of contention. Scorsese is reported to have kicked in some of his personal money to make this happen. Luckily it became critical and box office successes.
3. The Great Gatsby: $125 Million
One of DiCaprio’s more sexy and sweet roles, his character Nick Carraway gives us a great story. Although most viewers are familiar with the earlier versions, this film did it best. The visual effects, the sets, the luxurious costumes, the soundtrack and the acting were all getting a big thumb’s up from audiences everywhere. The production was a spot-on recreation of the glitzy art deco, roaring 20’s era. DiCaprio earned industry and viewer attention with his performance and it became an immediate box-office sensation. To date, the film has grossed $351,840,419 worldwide and seasoned designer, Catherine Martin, recently won an 2014 Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design.
2. Inception: $160 Million
Another breakout role by DiCaprio who loves to be challenged by assuming the perspectives of interesting characters. This futuristic story gives the main character, Dom Cobb, a chance to go back to his former life in exchange for a near-impossible heist. The story takes us on a psychological science-fiction journey that allows Cobb to enter the dream states of his employer’s competitors in order to steal their ideas. The film was extremely well received and brought in $292.6 million domestically and $825.2 million worldwide.
1. Titanic: $200 Million
A Night to Remember was produced in 1958 and although there were other Titantic-themed films, this old production set the bar. Based on Walter Lord’s book, A Night to Remember was written about the 1912 sinking of the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Although the movie was produced in black and white, it’s impact rocked audiences everywhere. Well in 1996, James Cameron embarked on one of the most magnificent films of his career and Leonardo, who nearly turned down the part, was cast as Jack Dawson. The baby-faced star was a hit opposite co-star, Kate Winslet, who played Rose. This film brought both stars international fame and is destined to stay on people’s radars for a long time. The soundtrack is highly recognized and is played everywhere.