Leonardo DiCaprio has played a bunch of iconic, memorable characters over the years – Jordan Belfort, Howard Hughes, Romeo Montague, Billy Costigan, Jack Dawson, Arnie Grape, Frank Abagnale, Jr., Calvin Candie, Jay Gatsby, Hugh Glass, the list is endless – but his career hasn’t been without its weak spots.
While he’s undeniably one of the greatest actors working today, no one can star in movies for over twenty years without having a few duds. Luckily for DiCaprio, he has such a high success rate with so few duds that his weaker performances are quickly forgotten about. Anyway, here are 10 Forgotten Leonardo DiCaprio Roles.
10 Fee “The Kid” Herod
Sam Raimi is best known today for expanding the boundaries that limited independent horror movies with The Evil Dead trilogy and bringing superhero cinema into the mainstream with Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man movies. But between directing those two trios of movies, he helmed a little-known western film called The Quick and the Dead, featuring a young (very young) Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of Fee “The Kid” Herod.
The movie shook up the classic western formula immediately by having a female lead as opposed to a male one – she was played by Sharon Stone. It’s not perfect, but it is a well-made, underrated homage to spaghetti westerns.
9 Hank Lacker
We’ve seen maybe 100,000 dramas about a dysfunctional family. Everyone seems to have tried that premise out for size and it rarely ends with something particularly spectacular. But by some miracle, Marvin’s Room, this obscure, underrated movie from the mid-‘90s, is one of the good ones.
DiCaprio stars as Hank Lacker alongside a cast of some of the finest actors in film history: Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, and for the real film buffs, Hume Cronyn. The movie was adapted from a play by Scott McPherson, who had written a screenplay for a film adaptation before he passed away that was ultimately unused.
8 Frank Wheeler
Richard Yates’ novel Revolutionary Road is one of the greatest works of literature ever written. It tells the story of an embattled married couple living in the suburbs in the 1950s. It’s the quintessential story of mid-20th century American life. However, these days, on the screen, the quintessential story of mid-20th century American life is Mad Men.
RELATED: Revolutionary Road Review
In a world where Mad Men exists and we have the saga of Don Draper to binge-watch whenever we want, we don’t need a film adaptation of Revolutionary Road – even if it does reunite the Titanic duo of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
7 Darlene’s classmate
Right before Leonardo DiCaprio got his big break with a 23-episode character arc as Luke on Growing Pains, he appeared in another iconic ‘90s sitcom: Roseanne. Along with Tobey Maguire, who DiCaprio became close friends with as a young actor, he played one of Darlene’s classmates in an episode called “Home-Ec.”
This was years before he would gross $1 billion at the box office by falling in love on a sinking ship, so ‘90s TV viewers would be forgiven for not noticing the staggering acting talent who appeared on their screens in 1991. There’s no missing him if you rewatch the episode, though.
In 2015, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Robert De Niro all played themselves in a 16-minute short film called The Audition that cost $70 million to make. The short was essentially a very expensive commercial for the Studio City Macau Resort and Casino, with each of the actors reportedly being paid $13 million for their roles, which took less than two days to shoot.
The plot concerns the three actors vying for a role in a Martin Scorsese movie, but it’s less about the plot and more about the resort that serves as the film’s backdrop.
5 Brandon Darrow
Woody Allen’s Celebrity is his study of the concept of – you guessed it! – celebrity. It follows a married couple going through a divorce, and how that separately leads them into the world of celebrity. The husband is a failed novelist who finds work as a tabloid journalist exploiting the lives of famous people, while the wife takes a job with a TV producer and ends up with her own talk show.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays a young, rising star by the name of Brandon Darrow (so, essentially, himself at the time) in an ensemble cast that also includes Kenneth Branagh, Charlize Theron, Melanie Griffith, and J.K. Simmons.
Don’s Plum is a small, low-budget, black-and-white indie movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio alongside Tobey Maguire and diminutive Entourage star Kevin Connolly. The reason a post-Titanic DiCaprio movie doesn’t have more buzz is that DiCaprio and Maguire actually tried to stop the movie from being released as they were unhappy with it.
It was shot in the mid-‘90s and didn’t see the light of day until 2001. The movie was buried under a litany of lawsuits ahead of its Berlin premiere, where it received mixed reviews. Dale Wheatley, one of the movie’s producers and writers, dug it up and released it online for free, but DiCaprio had it taken down as soon as someone warned him about it.
3 Arthur Rimbaud
Leonardo DiCaprio played the French poet Arthur Rimbaud alongside David Thewlis as Paul Verlaine, another French poet, in a movie called Total Eclipse. The movie was about the two poets’ creative boom, which was marked by the violence they inflicted upon each other and the desire they held for one another.
It’s a passionate movie based on a play from the ‘60s, but there’s a good reason you’ve likely never heard of it – it’s not very good. However, as its Rotten Tomatoes score shows – 25% from critics and 61% from audiences – it was more popular with passive moviegoers than professional reviewers.
2 Roger Ferris
A $70 million action thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe directed by the great Ridley Scott doesn’t sound like a movie that would be quickly forgotten about, but sadly, that’s the way things went down with Body of Lies. Its startlingly relevant premise (especially back in 2008, the end of the Bush era, when it was released) follows the CIA’s attempts to bring down an infamous criminal.
Unfortunately, the movie didn’t subvert enough conventions of the genre to stand out, so although it starred two A-list talents, it fell by the wayside and didn’t leave much of an impression on the moviegoing public.
1 J. Edgar Hoover
Between Inception and Django Unchained, two of the biggest hits of DiCaprio’s career, he played J. Edgar Hoover in a mediocre biopic that was swept under the rug and forgotten about quickly after its release. Clint Eastwood directed this movie based on the life of the first ever Director of the FBI, who was equally infamous for his cross-dressing as he was for criminally abusing his power (it was a different time).
DiCaprio was surrounded by a supporting cast of terrific performers, including Judi Dench, Naomi Watts, Stephen Root, and Adam Driver, but the movie itself is pretty generic Hollywood biopic product.