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“Sh*t, I’ve got to do something”: Leonardo DiCaprio’s Risky Stunt Nearly Blew His Career Until Robert De Niro Intervened

Leonardo DiCaprio nearly ruined his chances of landing his breakthrough role in This Boy's Life.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Risky Stunt Nearly Blew His Career Until Robert De Niro Intervened


  • Leonardo DiCaprio nearly failed his audition for his first significant film role in This Boy's Life due to his erratic behavior on set.
  • During the audition, DiCaprio threw a chair down and screamed at Robert De Niro to get his attention, thinking it would impress the director and casting team.
  • De Niro was actually impressed by DiCaprio's unconventional move and told the casting team "there's something interesting there".

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 in 1993
Leonardo DiCaprioin 1993

Also Read: “The town is your apple – but not this part of town”: Showgirls Star Elizabeth Berkley’s Ex Once Sued Leonardo DiCaprio for $45,000,000 for the Most Violent of Reasons

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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.”

Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio

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.”

Also Read: “Give cinema some respect”: Martin Scorsese Has One Request For His Leonardo DiCaprio Starrer ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ After Bashing Marvel For Killing Cinema

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. 

Leonardo DiCaprio in This Boy’s Life
Leonardo DiCaprio in This Boy’s Life

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.”

Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio
Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio

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. 

Also Read: On One Hand, Leonardo DiCaprio Wants to Save Earth from Pollution – On the Other, He Parties on His Fuel-Guzzling Superyacht That Punches a Texas-sized Hole in the Ozone Layer

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Written by Siddhika

Between everyday normalities and supernatural abnormalities, Siddhika Prajapati finds the story in everything. Literature Honors Graduate and Post-Graduated in Journalism (from Delhi University), her undying need to deduce the extraordinary out of simplicity makes her a vibrant storyteller.

Serving as a Senior Entertainment Writer at Fandom Wire and having written over 800 pieces, Siddhika has also worked with multiple clients and projects over the years, including Indian Express, India Today, and Outlook Group.

Who knows, maybe your next favorite persona on the screen will be crafted by her.