We Love Leo: 12 Books Leonardo DiCaprio Brought to the Silver Screen
I think we can all agree that Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2016 Oscar for Best Actor was hard-won. But even before he brought Michael Punke’s novel, THE REVENANT, to life, DiCaprio had a long history of delivering phenomenal performances in book-to-film adaptations. Though he’s noticeably absent from this year’s Oscar ballot, we’re still swooning over Leo. From his teen-heartthrob days to his most powerful performances, here’s a look a Leonardo DiCaprio’s career in page-to-screen adaptations.
2What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Leo’s portrayal of Arnie Grape in the 1993 film “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” is arguably one of the most memorable of his career. It also marked the first of his many Oscar nods (and losses). The Peter Hedges novel on which the film is based follows Gilbert Grape (played by Johnny Depp): a 24-year-old grocery clerk stuck in a microscopic Iowa town where he looks after his morbidly obese mother and mentally disabled brother, Arnie.
Jim Carroll, portrayed by DiCaprio in the 1995 film, grew up to become a renowned poet and punk rocker. But in the 60s, he was a rebellious teenager making a name for himself on the unforgiving streets of New York City. In his memoir, THE BASKETBALL DIARIES, Carroll shares diary entries of his restless youth and the result is an urban classic coming-of-age story about sex, drugs, and basketball.
4Romeo and Juliet
In the thick of his heartthrob era, Leo starred in the 1996 modern-day adaptation of the most famous romantic tragedy of all time: ROMEO AND JULIET. The Baz Luhrmann–directed movie is a cult classic for those who watched it as teenagers and for 90s enthusiasts. DiCaprio plays Romeo opposite Claire Danes’s Juliet.
5The Man in the Iron Mask
DiCaprio acted as both King Louis XIV and his mysterious twin brother, Philippe, in the 1998 adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s final Musketeers book. In THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, the Musketeers have gone their separate ways, but D’Artagnan remains in the service of the corrupt king. Soon, the Three Musketeers find themselves caught between conflicting loyalties when King Louis XIV and Philippe’s destinies begin to converge.
In his suspenseful debut novel, THE BEACH, Alex Garland illuminates a generation in their twenties burdened with the legacy of the preceding generation and saturated by popular culture. Leonardo DiCaprio was in his twenties when he played a young man who sets off to explore an idyllic beach forbidden to tourists in Bangkok. But it soon becomes clear that The Beach has troubling, even deadly, undercurrents.
7Catch Me If You Can
DiCaprio teams up with Hollywood greats Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks in this true cat-and-mouse story, “Catch Me If You Can.” The Oscar-nominated film is based on a memoir by Frank W. Abagnale (aka Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams, and Robert Monjo)—the world’s most sought-after con man.
8Body of Lies
In David Ignatius’s spy thriller, CIA soldier Roger Ferris (played by DiCaprio in the 2008 adaptation) must penetrate the network of a master terrorist known only as "Suleiman." His scheme binds friend and foe in a web of extraordinary complexity. When it begins to unravel, Ferris’s only hope is the head of Jordan's intelligence service. But can he trust him?
Although Leo didn’t score any Oscar nods for his heartrending performance as the hopeless suburban-dweller Frank Wheeler, the adaptation of the Richard Yates novel was a formidable contender at the 2009 Academy Awards. REVOLUTIONARY ROAD tells the story of a young couple raising their two children in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s while struggling to come to terms with their personal problems.
Martin Scorsese directed DiCaprio in this 2010 psychological thriller based on Dennis Lehane’s mind-bending novel. Like its film counterpart, SHUTTER ISLAND delivers a twist to put all plot twists to shame. DiCaprio plays U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels, who visits a hospital for the criminally insane on the isolated and eerie Shutter Island.
11The Great Gatsby
Though DiCaprio was not the first to portray the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby on the silver screen, this adaptation directed by Baz Luhrmann probably came closest to displaying the opulence of a Gatsby-thrown party. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age classic is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
12The Wolf of Wall Street
Leo teamed up with Martin Scorsese again to bring to life the story of Wall Street kingpin Jordan Belfort and illuminate the corruption on Wall Street in the 1990s. By day Belfort made thousands of dollars a minute at the notorious investment firm Stratton Oakmont. By night he spent it as fast as he could, on drugs, sex, and international globe-trotting. In this astounding and hilarious tell-all autobiography, Belfort narrates a story of greed, power, and excess that no one could invent.