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Since making his debut in the decidedly awful comedic sci-fi Critters 3 in 1991, Leonardo Dicaprio has spent the last three decades forging a name for himself as one of the most important actors of his generation. Between an ongoing collaborative relationship with Martin Scorsese, a long-awaited Academy Award win, and a carefully curated filmography, he seems to have achieved that feat.
Since the beginning of his career, DiCaprio has shown a penchant for drama. After finding his feet in the 1990s as Jack Dawson and Shakespeare’s Romeo, he continued to prove his status as a solid leading man into the new century. Putting unparalleled care into his performances and immersing himself in characterisation, his serious approach to his craft defied the false start he had made with Critters 3.
After Robert De Niro recommended him to Martin Scorsese, DiCaprio’s projects seemed to become all the more considered, dominated by dense characters often based on real-life people and thrilling drama. From Shutter Island to The Wolf of Wall Street, he delivered his fair share of striking lead performances before finally earning a ‘Best Actor’ Oscar for The Revenant.
Choosing projects based on his own connection to them rather than potential commercial success, DiCaprio has honed one of the most consistent CVs in Hollywood. “Look, the truth is that I always wanted to be an actor; it was always my dream and now is the time where I am really able to choose my own parts,” he once told Life Beyond Sport.
Over 30 years into his career, those carefully selected parts have still rarely ventured back into the realm of comedy. Though we have seen glimpses of DiCaprio’s comedic potential in films like The Wolf of Wall Street and Don’t Look Up, he seems far more drawn towards dramatic storytelling. Nonetheless, DiCaprio harbours great admiration for his comedic peers, particularly Jim Carrey, whom he once dubbed a “genius”.
Speaking with Rolling Stone, DiCaprio shared his enthusiasm for the Bruce Almighty star, stating, “I think Jim Carrey’s a genius. If he died today, he’d be regarded like Peter Sellers squared. And De Niro. He’s probably the most influential”. While “Genius” may seem like a strong word to throw around, but particularly when it comes to comedy, Carrey is a worthy recipient.
While DiCaprio carved out his place in drama, Carrey found his home in humour and gave the genre some of its most iconic characters. From The Grinch to Bruce Almighty, his on-screen presence is endlessly entertaining and memorable. The Canadian actor has also proven his aptitude for drama with the likes of The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Between them, they have mastered both comedic and dramatic acting and earned permanent places amongst the most important actors in contemporary cinema.