Leonardo DiCaprio is regarded as a name that embodies talent and unshakable commitment in the annals of Hollywood. Three Golden Globes, an Academy Award, and a British Academy Film Award are just a few of the honors that the celebrated actor has received. Although the world has been captivated by his performances, there have been some rough times behind the scenes.
Yes, did you know that a dramatic turn of events on the set of his first significant film role as Tobias Wolff in This Boy’s Life (1993) may have ended his promising career? DiCaprio’s erratic behavior eventually led to a turning point in his life that could have ultimately pushed the direction of success.
However, the Titanic star’s career was ultimately saved thanks to a timely intervention from none other than the renowned Robert De Niro.
Leonardo DiCaprio Nearly Failed His This Boy’s Life Audition
Even though Leonardo DiCaprio is currently one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors and has access to some of the biggest roles in the industry, this was not always the case. He was just a young actor looking for a break when he was cast alongside Robert De Niro, a veteran of Hollywood, in This Boy’s Life.
However, he pulled a crazy stunt that almost cost him the audition. The 48-year-old actor recalled in an interview with Deadline in 2016:
“I remember there was this mustard jar sequence, and just thinking to myself, ‘S**t, I’ve got to do something…memorable. I’ve got to do something to just rattle these people’s cages.’ I went in, and they were doing the mustard jar sequence, and [De Niro]’s like, ‘Is it empty, is it empty?’ And I just stood up and threw my chair down, or something, and screamed at him, ‘No, it’s not empty.’ And then Bob had this smirk on his face, and just started slowly busting up, laughing in my face. And then he looked at everybody else, and the whole room starting laughing.”
Fortunately, as DiCaprio revealed to Deadline, The King of Comedy actor was impressed by his unconventional move:
“I was like, ‘Holy s**t, I blew it. I blew this. I blew this whole opportunity,’ but I guess at 15 you misunderstand. I guess they kind of liked it, because Bob was like, ‘That kid was…there’s something interesting there.’ And they brought me back.”
Tobey Maguire Competed With Leonardo DiCaprio For The Role in This Boy’s Life
It was revealed in a 2014 interview with Variety that Leonardo DiCaprio had to outbid over 400 young actors for his part in This Boy’s Life. It is interesting to note that his longtime friend Tobey Maguire was one of the other young people who tried for the role.
Despite the fact that DiCaprio received the lead role, the two actors would go on to compete for many of the same roles in the future. He described his audition experience, particularly the time he got to meet legendary actor Robert De Niro, in the same interview.
“That was one of those incredible auditions that came around. I suppose every kid had been waiting for [it] for a long period of time because it’s just not that often that you get a starring role above Robert De Niro … everyone was sort of fiending for this role. And I got down, I suppose, to the final five, and it was like a last sort of day. Tobey was there, and I do remember thinking to myself, ‘I gotta do something to stand out.’ …”
More details about DiCaprio’s erratic behavior were revealed when he spoke to Deadline in 2016. He explained:
“I was this kid that came from television and TV commercials, and I had no idea how to conduct myself on a set. I had no understanding when to…shut up..”
Even Maguire once thought he was not taking the role seriously because of how much fun he was having. Later he disclosed in an interview with Vanity Fair in a 1998 interview:
“He was doing karate kicks in the hallway. He wasn’t serious at all Leo says, ‘De Niro… wasn’t he in Cape Fear?’ I said, ‘Are you f**king kidding me, dude.”
It was the first time on-screen that Maguire and DiCaprio had worked together; they later did so in Don’s Plum (2001) and The Great Gatsby (2013). The Romeo + Juliet star will next be seen as Ernest Burkhart in Killers of the Flower Moon. It is set to release on October 6, 2023.
This Boy’s Life is available to rent on Apple TV.