Leonardo DiCaprio has an impeccable portfolio of incredible movies, and he has carefully vetted each of his roles to come up with only the best quality performances. DiCaprio has worked with legendary directors and he is a favorite of Martin Scorsese having worked together on six projects. The Departed actor received a well-deserving Oscar much later in his career, for the 2015 movie The Revenant.
In his pursuit of delivering exceptional work, DiCaprio has rejected a number of roles, some of which turned out to be iconic roles, while with some others he dodged a bullet. One genre of roles the Shutter Island actor has consistently avoided is that of a superhero.
Leonardo DiCaprio Rejected A DC Superhero Role
Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the film What’s Eating Gilbert Grape at the tender age of 19. Following his Oscar nomination, The Great Gatsby actor was offered a number of roles, from which he had to choose some while rejecting the most. One such that he turned down was that of Richard “Dick” Grayson / Robin in the 1995 DC film, Batman Forever.
The Inception actor met with Joel Schumacher, the director of the film, but never proceeded with the audition for the role. The Blood Diamond actor chose to work in other low-budget and less successful movies in 1995, including The Basketball Diaries and Total Eclipse. During an interview with ShortList in 2015, DiCaprio revealed that he was not ready to play a superhero role at the time. The J. Edgar actor told ShortList:
“I never screen-tested. I had a meeting with Joel Schumacher. It was just one meeting and, no, I didn’t end up doing it. […] Er, I don’t think I did [want the role], no. As I recall I took the meeting, but didn’t want to play the role. Joel Schumacher is a very talented director but I don’t think I was ready for anything like that.”
When asked if he felt like he dodged a bullet, the Django Unchained actor responded with just a laugh. In Batman Forever, Val Kilmer played Bruce Wayne / Batman, taking over the role from Michael Keaton. The film was a box office success grossing $336 million. The role of Robin eventually went to Chris O’Donnell, who also reprised the role in a sequel, Batman & Robin.
Leonardo DiCaprio Was Not Ready For Other Superhero Roles Either
Leonardo DiCaprio was also approached to play the role of another superhero, this time the ever-iconic Spider-Man. James Cameron who directed DiCaprio in the epic disaster film, Titanic, wrote a draft script for the web-slinger and considered the Gangs of New York actor for the role. However, when Sam Raimi took over as director and production began without Cameron, DiCaprio recommended his friend Tobey Maguire for the role and the rest is history.
In his ShortList interview, the Don’t Look Up actor was asked about his Spider-Man rejection too, and he revealed that the situation was somewhat similar to Batman Forever. The Once Upon a Time in Hollywood actor also commented about his future in the genre. DiCaprio told ShortList:
“That [Spider-Man] was another one of those situations, similar to Robin, where I didn’t feel ready to put on that suit yet. They got in touch with me. […] You never know. You never know. They [superhero movies] are getting better and better as far as complex characters in these movies. I haven’t yet. But no, I don’t rule out anything.”
While not exactly superhero movies, DiCaprio also turned down the roles of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars prequel trilogy and Neo in The Matrix. It remains uncertain whether fans will ever witness the Revolutionary Road actor in a superhero role in the future.
Batman Forever is now available for streaming on Max.