Leonardo DiCaprio –actor, producer, and environmental activist – has played many different roles in his life, but he has never played an Italian or an Italian-American. He has starred in well-known films, such as Wolf of Wall Street, The Aviator, Shutter Island, Titanic, the Great Gatsby; very early in his career he had a brief stint in a soap opera called Santa Barbara. He won his first best actor Oscar last year (2016) in The Revenant. Despite many collaborations with Martin Scorsese, DiCaprio played a bloodthirsty Irishman in Gangs of New York and a paranoid “Southie” (from the south side of Boston) in The Departed.
Now DiCaprio will not only portray a very famous Italian, but he will star in a biopic about his namesake: Leonardo Da Vinci. Paramount edged out Universal for the rights in August 2017 to make the film based in part on a book by Walter Isaacson (who wrote the biography of Steve Jobs) that will be published in October. Isaacson collected information on the painter, engineer, and scientist using the personal diaries and notebooks of the genius.
Besides starring in the film, DiCaprio will also be one of the producers of the feature-length film through the production company that he founded, Appian Way. His connections to Italy date back to before his birth in 1974. According to his mother, she chose the name Leonardo in honor of Leonardo da Vinci during a visit to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. She was pregnant with the little one; while she was looking at one of the artist’s designs and reading the narrative, she felt the first little kick in her stomach.
And now Leonardo DiCaprio will pay homage to his namesake.