Born in Los Angeles on November 11, 1974, Leonardo DiCaprio is an A-List Hollywood actor. He began his acting career in the early 1990s with guest appearances on television programs like The New Lassie, Roseanne, and Growing Pains. He made his movie debut in the low-budget Critters 3 (1991), but his first significant film role came two years later, in This Boy’s Life, which starred Robert De Niro. Prominent among DiCaprio’s other major films were Titanic (1997), Django Unchained (a 2012 production emphasizing the evils of slavery in the antebellum South), and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013, depicting capitalism as a breeding ground for excess and corruption). For additional details of DiCaprio’s acting career, click here.
Over the years, DiCaprio has cultivated a reputation as an outspoken environmentalist who believes that the carbon emissions associated with human industrial activity contribute heavily to global warming and its allegedly catastrophic ramifications. In 1998 he established an eponymous charitable philanthropy, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, “dedicated to protecting Earth’s last wild places and fostering a harmonious relationship between humanity and the natural world.”
In 2004 DiCaprio supported John Kerry’s White House bid, lauding the senator’s “years of leadership working to protect our oceans.” DiCaprio called that year’s presidential race “the most important election of my lifetime” and claimed that the Republican incumbent, George W. Bush, had made “disastrous choices when it comes to the environment.”
In 2005 DiCaprio said: “Global warming is not only the number one environmental challenge we face today, but one of the most important issues facing all of humanity.”
In 2007 DiCaprio produced and narrated The 11th Hour, a documentary film about the grave threat allegedly posed by anthropogenic climate change. “In the U.S. we are the ones who should be setting an example,” he stated. “We are the largest democracy in the world—and also the largest polluters. If we don’t take any action, then how can anyone else be expected to?”
DiCaprio has long condemned fossil fuels and carbon emissions as leading contributors to climate change and environmental degradation. But in 2012 he paid $250,000 to reserve for himself a flight into outer space aboard the billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic rocket ship, which was powered by fossil fuel.
Moreover, for many years DiCaprio has traveled extensively via gas-guzzling private jets and has socialized with people whose “carbon footprints” are among the world’s largest. For example, in just one six-week period during April and May of 2014, he took his private jet on six separate trips that cost the Sony Corporation more than $200,000 in total. RadarOnline.com provided details on five of these excursions:
- “On April 17 … he flew from Los Angeles to New York at a cost of $63,000 to the company. Travel handlers noted he was going for a filmmaker’s meeting, but then-girlfriend Toni Garrn was listed as accompanying him.”
- “On April 27, they flew back to Los Angeles at a cost of $63,000, plus $3,000 in catering and $300 in car service on each end.”
- “[H]e was booked for a flight from Los Angeles to New York again on May 4, at a cost of $37,306.60, plus $1,506.60 in catering and $800 in car service….”
- “He flew back to Los Angeles on May 31 … at a cost of $55,000. His mother Irmelin DiCaprio and friend Lukas Haas were also listed as expected passengers.”
- “Travel records also state that he was then booked on a flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for a mere 8 hours on the evening of May 31. The projected cost of that round-trip flight was $12,000.”
Some additional examples:
In his 2012 book, Hollywood Hypocrites, author Jason Mattera presents the following account of DiCaprio’s hypocrisy regarding environmentalism:
“Hollywood producer Andrew Macdonald and director Danny Boyle decided to shoot the movie The Beach on the island of Phi Phi Le, just off the coast of the Thai mainland. The island is uninhabited, unsupervised, a designated national park, and at the time had no enforceable restrictions on the use of the island. Eco-warrior Leonardo DiCaprio was the star of The Beach. ‘Preservation of the environment has always been of utmost concern to me,’ Leo assured the nearby Thai locals, ‘and I would never be part of any project that did anything to harm nature. I have seen extraordinary measures being taken to protect the island. And I pledge to remain vigilant and tolerate nothing less than these maximum efforts,’ DiCaprio told Thailand’s environmentally worried citizens.
“What resulted, say Thailand’s environmental protestors, was nothing short of a pillaging of the beach. Coconut trees were ripped up, dunes were bulldozed, coral reefs were damaged, and vegetation was yanked out. Protestors camped out on the beach, several hundred miles southwest of Bangkok, and watched as DiCaprio’s eco-pillaging took place. When a dozen villagers tried to peacefully stage a sit-in on the beach—something you would think Hollywood-types would support—a group of ‘thugs’ who villagers say were led by government officials forced them to leave, sparking anti-corruption officials to investigate the head of the Royal Forestry Department’s decision to let the studio infiltrate the island. The indigenous people resisted, as residents of the island joined with twenty-nine nongovernmental organizations to protest after Twentieth Century Fox successfully gained permission to shoot after posting a $139,000 bond against environmental damage. ‘This [Fox’s actions] is actually a well-known method of forest encroachment by developers,’ said the official statement from the protestors. ‘It turns natural, ecologically varied sites into coconut plantations. This is not making a movie. It’s an abuse of power.’
“DiCaprio got his little feelings hurt. To hear Leo tell the story, it seems that a big, powerful group of bullies, Thailand’s environmentalists, decided to use him and his Hollywood comrades to gain media attention. ‘I’m a little bitter, just because it is a lie and people’s perception may be a little tainted,’ DiCaprio whined in an interview in Hawaii. ‘It had a lot to do with the political propaganda that was going on in the country,’ said the excuse-making star.
“DiCaprio might have well been describing the fearmongering global warming hysteria that Hollywood hypocrite hucksters like [he] and Gore have beat like a drum. But the legal case brought by the concerned Thai citizens took a circuitous seven-year route that ended at the Thai Supreme Court. In 2006, the high court upheld a verdict of the appeal court and ruled that DiCaprio’s movie, The Beach, did, in fact, destroy part of the environment. But for DiCaprio, the whole thing was just a bunch of wild-eyed environmentalists exploiting the media to score environmental points….
“’We were used as a test case over the ability of the forestry department to rent out islands to movies or for anything else,’ groused DiCaprio. ‘We were targeted as this big Hollywood machine that came in and disrespected this island. A lie started and all of a sudden it just grew and grew and became something else and became widespread. That became the story, no matter what we said about it. There was no way we could contradict it.’”
On September 21, 2014, DiCaprio, accompanied by former Vice President Al Gore, participated in a “People’s Climate March” in New York City, where he demanded that global leaders take action to address the global warming crisis.
Two days later, DiCaprio addressed a climate summit at the United Nations, where Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the actor as a “UN Messenger of Peace,” a “new voice for climate advocacy,” and a man whose “global stardom is the perfect match for this global challenge.” In his speech, DiCaprio asserted that a host of “new and undeniable climate events”—e.g., intensifying droughts, “warming and acidifying” oceans, “increased temperatures,” and “the West Antarctic and Greenland ice-sheets melting at unprecedented rates”—were evidence that if “industries and governments around the world” failed to take “decisive, large-scale action,” all of humanity “will surely perish.” “We need to put a pricetag on carbon emissions,” he explained, “and eliminate government subsidies for coal, gas, and oil companies.” In short, it was time to “end the free ride that industrial polluters have been given in the name of a free-market economy.”
That same year, DiCaprio funded the production of a series of short eco-documentaries urging the abandonment of fossil fuels, the enactment of carbon taxes, and an increased reliance on solar- and wind-generated power. The first film in the series, co-written by left-wing activist/talk-radio host Thom Hartmann: (a) characterizes the fossil fuels that formed from the decomposition of dead plants and animals “over millions of years,” as “an ancient menace”; (b) falsely claims that “97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is happening and caused by human activity”; (c) impugns oil companies for “making trillions of dollars” while supposedly pillaging the earth of its natural resources; (d) states that “we need to keep this carbon in the ground”; and (e) assures that “we no longer need the dead economy of the fossil-fuel industry.”
In April 2015, it was reported that DiCaprio was planning to transform Blackadore Caye—his privately owned, uninhabited island located off the coast of Belize—into an eco-resort and conservation area. DiCaprio and entrepreneur Jeff Gram together had purchased the island for $1.75 million ten years earlier, and now they were ready to develop it with 68 resort villas and 48 private houses that they hoped to sell for $5 million to $15 million apiece. In addition, they planned to make a number of rental dwellings available for visitors to the island, for an estimated $2,000 per night. Emphasizing that he and Gram would also work to restore Blackadore Caye from the effects of prolonged over-fishing, deforestation, and coastline erosion, DiCaprio predicted that his project would be “groundbreaking in the environmental movement” and could potentially “change the world.”
In a December 2015 interview, DiCaprio cited Naomi Klein as “one of the most powerful voices in the climate movement”; lamented that “we’ve locked ourselves, through capitalism, into an addiction to oil that’s incredibly hard to reverse”; lauded the work of Divest Invest, an organization that represents “a fantastic way you as an individual can say, ‘I do not want to have investments in oil, coal, or gas’”; and praised Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as “pretty inspiring” due to what he had said “about the environment [and] climate change” at a recent political debate.
In early December 2015, DiCaprio flew a private jet to Paris, so he could meet privately with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other dignitaries to discuss the climate summit which was in progress, and which would ultimately result in the drafting of the Paris Climate Accord. “Our world leaders are here in Paris in an effort to finalize a global agreement 20 years in the making, to finally address the very real threat that climate change poses to our planet,” DiCaprio told other attendees at the summit. “These leaders have met before. They met in Kyoto, they met in Copenhagen, and in cities on every continent, but each and every time, they have come up short. This time must be different, because we are fundamentally running out of time.”
At the January 6, 2016 premier of his new movie, The Revenant, DiCaprio told the Associated Press: “The argument is over. Anyone that doesn’t believe that climate change is happening doesn’t believe in science. Ninety-nine per cent of the scientific community is in agreement that man is contributing to [global warming].”
That same month, DiCaprio was granted a private audience with Pope Francis to discuss the threat that anthropogenic climate change allegedly posed to the planet. The actor also presented Francis with a check from his environmentalist philanthropy, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
In a January 2016 interview with Charlie Rose, DiCaprio said that climate change represented “the biggest problem that mankind has ever had to face.” “It is the most existential human crisis that the world has ever known, in my opinion,” he added.
During his 2016 Oscars acceptance speech for Best Actor in The Revenant, DiCaprio said: “Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”
Addressing the Global Citizen Festival in New York on September 29, 2019, DiCaprio condemned President Donald Trump and other world leaders for their refusal to combat the earth’s “climate catastrophe.” Citing the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord in 2017, DiCaprio said: “It’s become clear that our political leaders have failed to live up to promises…. Our future is being gambled away, and our leaders, those whom we entrust to protect us and set the example, are either failing to stop these dangerous trends or, in some cases, denying the very science of this climate catastrophe. Unless you live in an alternate reality, there’s no more time for denial. A carbon-neutral future is the only way we will inherit a planet capable of sustaining life on Earth as we know it.”
On November 30, 2019, former Secretary of State John Kerry announced the launch “World War Zero,” a coalition of former heads of state and Hollywood celebrities dedicated to advocating for solutions to the allegedly catastrophic phenomenon of climate change. DiCaprio was one of the more-than-sixty individuals who agreed to participate. Others who took part included Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, John Kasich, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Madeleine Albright, Susan Rice, Ashton Kutcher, and Sting.
In a January 2022 interview with Deadline.com, DiCaprio said: “I’ve had two great passions in my life. That has been acting, and the protection of the natural world and getting the message out about the climate crisis. I think there’s a worldwide sense of anxiety about the fact that the powers that be, the private sector, governments, are not making the transition fast enough. We literally have a nine-year window.”
DiCaprio greatly admired the policies and agendas—not least, those related to the environment and energy production—of President Barack Obama. When Obama was elected to the White House in 2008, DiCaprio said, “I couldn’t be more proud of my country right now, proud to be an American, and I think the entire world was looking for a transition like this.” On Obama’s Inauguration Day—January 20, 2009—DiCaprio spoke at the celebratory Neighborhood Inaugural Ball in Washington.
In early August 2016, DiCaprio announced that he was planning to host a $33,400-per-person fundraiser in his home for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. Slated for August 23, the event was dubbed “Conversations with Hillary.” In accordance with campaign-finance maximums, the first $2,700 from each ticket would go directly to the Clinton campaign, while the rest would go to the broader Democratic Party.
On November 2, 2018, NowThis News, a progressive social-media-focused news organization, released a new video featuring DiCaprio and fellow actor Brad Bitt encouraging voter turnout for the upcoming midterm elections by highlighting the importance of issues like climate change and gun control. “The future of our country will be decided [on Election Day] this week,” said DiCaprio in the video. “Elections don’t just matter when voting for president. This election might be the most consequential of our lifetime. So much is at stake, from gun safety laws, to immigration policy, clean water and air, and whether or not millions of people have access to health care.”
In 2020, DiCaprio narrated a Netflix documentary series about election fraud titled Whose Vote Counts, Explained. Said DiCaprio in the narration: “Elections have been rigged in America’s history. But it’s the politicians who do it.” He also urged his social media followers to register to vote via former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “When We All Vote” initiative. The trailer for the documentary highlighted the fact that President Trump had lost the popular vote in 2016, while winning the Electoral College.
On October 29, 2020, DiCaprio and a number of other celebrities — like Jennifer Lopez, Kerry Washington, Amy Schumer, Eva Longoria, Chris Rock, and Natalie Portman — participated in a CBS broadcast exhorting voters to turn out for the upcoming presidential election between the incumbent, Donald Trump, and the challenger, Joe Biden. The CBS event was titled “Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy.”
In July 2016 DiCaprio’s name was linked to a Justice Department investigation into a massive money-laundering scheme whose purpose had been to enrich top-level officials of 1MBD, a wealth fund controlled by the government of Malaysia. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had established the fund in 2009 in order to promote economic development projects in his country, but the fund soon fell into billions of dollars worth of debt. This debt coincided with a Justice Department finding that people close to Najib had stolen at least $3.5 billion from the wealth fund. According to a USA Today report, much of that money was used to purchase assets in the United States, “including luxury properties in New York and California, a $35 million jet, art by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, and financing of [the 2013 DiCaprio film] The Wolf of Wall Street.” When DiCaprio issued his acceptance speech for a Golden Globe award which he received for his Wolf of Wall Street performance, he thanked “the entire production team” and specifically named, as “collaborators” on the film, several individuals who were close to Najib and were implicated in the theft. In October 2016, USA Today reported that “DiCaprio says he’s awaiting direction from the U.S. Justice Department regarding any ill-gotten funds that may have supported his environmental foundation or [his film].” Moreover, DiCaprio released a statement pledging that he would return any donations of money that had derived from the Malaysian fund. In October 2016 as well, a Swiss rainforest charity demanded that DiCaprio resign from his post as a United Nations “Messenger of Peace” if he failed to reveal whatever financial ties he had to 1MBD.
In early June 2020, just days after the infamous May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, DiCaprio publicly supported the Black Lives Matter movement. “I commit to listen, learn and take action,” he posted on Instagram. “I am dedicated to end the disenfranchisement of Black America, that has been present for too long.” Pledging to “support those individuals, organizations and coalitions that are committed to bring about long-term change,” DiCaprio announced that he would “be donating personally” to Color of Change, Stacey Abrams‘s Fair Fight Action, the NAACP, and the Equal Justice Initiative.
DiCaprio today has a net worth of approximately $260 million.
As of August 2019, he owned numerous luxury homes:
Notably, DiCaprio a number of DiCaprio’s properties are situated very close to the ocean, a fact that seems incongruous with his professed belief that climate change — which purportedly will cause sea levels to rise dramatically and flood the coasts — poses an imminent threat to the planet.
Further Reading: “Leonardo DiCaprio” (Biography.com).