Feature, Like magazine, December 2014. Click to enlarge. Read below.
Playboy of the Western World
As Leonardo DiCaprio takes a break from acting to save the planet, professionally, he’s never been more highly regarded. But personally, one of this generation’s finest actors is still living life like it’s one big party. Leonardo DiCaprio just turned 40, but when, wonders Carolyn Moore, is he going to grow up?
Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t like the paparazzi. He hides from them. Behind sunglasses and hats, diving into alleyways and ducking behind friends. But there’s one place you can’t hide from the paparazzi, and that’s LAX.
LA’s international airport is a hub for the most vulture-like photographers in the business, because there are always celebrities passing through, and in these post-9/11 times no one gets special treatment at the airport.
This is why, if you can afford it, you take a private jet. You increase your carbon footprint times one zillion, and you don’t care because it’s a small price to pay for privacy. Leonardo DiCaprio can afford a private jet, but now that he’s been named a UN representative on climate change, the question is, can he afford to be seen taking one?
“Solving this crisis is not a question of politics,” he told the UN Climate Change Summit in September, “It is our moral obligation.”
I wonder does he consider it his moral obligation to travel less or fly commercial? For a guy who spends his summers country-hopping through Europe and partying on fuel-guzzling super yachts – like any good environmentalist – that would be quite the sacrifice.
But when it comes to celebrities telling us regular folk how to be better people, it seems it’s often a case of do as I say, not as I do. They like to argue that their precious time is worth more to a cause than any amount of money, but when it comes to climate change, I would argue, “Hey, I’m not the one with six homes and a private jet.”
Leo has been a staunch environmentalist for over a decade, so eyebrows were raised when he took a private plane to South Africa to watch ONE football match during the 2010 World Cup, and when he announced last year that he planned to take a break from acting to “fly around the world doing good for the environment”, you had to wonder what, exactly, he thinks is good for the environment.
On the same day he spoke to the UN, the notoriously private DiCaprio surprised everyone by joining Instagram. But if you thought he’d offer a glimpse behind the curtain at his debaucherous life, no such luck. So far his feed has been all UN, no F-UN. There’s Leo with Al Gore, Leo at the New York march for climate change, and even Leo with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, but where’s the Leo we all want to see? Where are the models? Where’s the non-stop party? Where’s the infamous “Pussy Posse”?
“The what?” I hear you ask.
For as long as he’s been in the public eye, Leo has rolled with a big group of Hollywood bros, and back in the ‘90s it was revealed that they referred to themselves as “The Pussy Posse”. I’ll let you figure out why.
Even when he’s in a steady relationship, Leonardo always has at least one of his boys around. They travel with him, go on dates with him, and party with him, but luckily for his bros, Leo’s penchant for trading his girlfriends in for newer models does not extend to his boy friends. Let’s take a look at his track record:
He started dating Brazilian model, Gisele Bundchen, when she was 20. (They broke up when she was 25). He started dating Israeli model, Bar Refaeli, when she was 20. (They broke up when she was 26). His next model girlfriend was 22. (She lasted a year). His current, Toni Garnn, was 21. Are we starting to see a pattern here?
He’s allowed to get older, but they’re not. Many would ask “who can blame him?” Plenty of men browse the Victoria’s Secret catalogue just for kicks; the difference is that Leo gets to order the models. And in his case the old adage “age ain’t nothing but a number” was never more apt. He’s 40 going on 22, and therefore perfectly matched to his girlfriends, mentally if not physically.
And who but a 20-year-old would put up with his antics? It can’t be easy being in a relationship with someone who likes to surround himself with hard-partying friends and bevies of models, everywhere he goes. When he celebrated his 40th in November, the website TMZ reported that of the 100 guests, 80% were models.
Some people serve canapés at a party, some people serve models. When Amy Poehler and Tina Fey made fun of him at the Golden Globes, announcing him with the quip “And now, like a supermodel’s vagina, let’s all give a warm welcome to Leonardo DiCaprio.” they were right on the money. With Leo’s ladies, it’s a chicken/egg scenario: Which came first? The Victoria’s Secret contract or the tryst with Leonardo?
Nowadays, these are the two sides to DiCaprio, and they’re becoming increasingly disparate. On the one hand you have the serious actor; protégé of DeNiro, muse to Scorsese, five time Oscar nominee; enviornmentalist, philanthropist, UN messenger of Peace. On the other hand you have the goofy, eternal frat boy; hanging out with Justin Bieber, going to Cannes for the party, not the work; modeliser, lothario, playboy.
When he’s done at the UN does he take Ban Ki Moon out on a rager across New York? Does he offer to hook him up with a couple of models? Or does he just compartmentalise these two aspects of his life and hope that they never cross? If so, he might want to rethink that strategy.
Professionally, that Oscar still eludes him. The Academy is not averse to rewarding longstanding lotharios for their work, but it generally prefers them to have a facade of stability to their real lives. And just how much gravitas does he bring to his work as a UN representative when people know how he behaves in private, and the possible hypocrisy inherent in his globe-trotting lifestyle?
Leonardo at 40 should look to George Clooney. When he was ribbed by Amy and Tiny at the same Golden Globes – “[Gravity is] the story of how George Clooney would rather float away into space and die than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.” – he got engaged the same year. Coincidence? I’m not sure.
Sometimes all it takes is the realisation that you’re becoming a laughing stock among your peers and a tired old cliché, to make you accept that if you want to be taken seriously, you have to just grow up. Leonardo DiCaprio may just be reaching that point.