River Phoenix

DiCaprio, Leonardo

Lanky, small-faced Romeo who played Romeo to Claire Danes’s Juliet in Baz Luhrmann’s big 1996 remake of the 1596 play.

Delicate DiCaprio’s pre- and post-teen fans–who have been known to greet his image with squeals–insist that he’s more than a pin-up, and indeed his formidable performance as Johnny Depp’s slow-witted brother in the 1993 movie What’s Eating Gilbert Grape earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.

In 1994, DiCaprio’s conspicuous commitment to nightlife had Rolling Stone crying River Phoenix deja vu; as a corrective, DiCaprio’s PR issued counter-rumors replacing his reputation for dissipation with a healthier reputation for careerism. Whatever he’s doing, it’s getting him work.

Even appearing in a number of tepid non-hits–This Boy’s Life (1993), Basketball Diaries (1995), and Total Eclipse (1995)–DiCaprio has won praise for sensitive acting, as well as for channeling the newly androgynized zeitgesit. In 1996 the unsinkable It-boy starting shooting the James Cameron’s… Continue reading