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Leonardo DiCaprio almost forced to quit acting because name stopped him getting jobs

Dominic Smithers

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Leonardo DiCaprio almost forced to quit acting because name stopped him getting jobs

Leonardo DiCaprio is one the the most celebrated actors of his generation, of all time, even.

But his career almost turned out very differently, and it's all down to his name.

I mean, you're probably thinking, 'What's wrong with Leonardo DiCaprio?', right? It's impossible to imagine him being called anything else.

However, back in the day, when he was just a fledgling actor, the 48-year-old was warned that his name could prove to be a hinderance to his career.

And he was advised to change it.

Leonardo DiCaprio was almost called something very different. Credit: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy
Leonardo DiCaprio was almost called something very different. Credit: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

Speaking to Shortlist about his early days, Leo said: "Yeah, when I was 11 years old, when I first wanted to be an actor professionally, we went to an agent and they wanted to change my name to Lenny Williams.

"They felt my name was too ethnic and I wouldn’t get as many jobs. So that thwarted me from being an actor for a number of years.

"I tried again two years later when I was 13 and got an agent to accept me with my name."

And I think we can all agree that the Oscar winner made the right decision.

Discussing where his name actually came from, Leo explained to NPR back in 2014 that it was decided on his parents' honeymoon.

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He said: "My father tells me that they were on their honeymoon at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, I believe. They were looking at a da Vinci painting, and allegedly I started kicking furiously while my mother was pregnant.

"And my father took that as a sign, and I suppose DiCaprio wasn't that far from da Vinci. And so, my dad, being the artist that he is, said, 'That's our boy's name'."

But the Catch Me If You Can star isn't the only actor to have considered changing their name to improve their chances of getting a starring role.

Keanu Reeves also considered changing his name. Credit: Sydney Alford/Alamy
Keanu Reeves also considered changing his name. Credit: Sydney Alford/Alamy

When he was starting out in the business, Keanu Reeves also considered getting himself a stage name, as a lot of actors do.

And it was almost very, very bad.

Keanu, now 58, said: "So, I’m 20 years old, I’m in my first car, I wanted to be in movies, I went to Hollywood. And I get there and they’re like, ‘We wanna change your name'.

"I was like, 'Why', and they were like, 'Keanu, maybe it's a little too exotic', we don't wanna... ya know... '."

Revealing one of the names he thought about at the time, the actor said: "'Chuck Spadina'. Just ridiculous names. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't do it."

I think we're all glad neither of them did.

Featured Image Credit: MediaPunch Inc/Maximum Film/Alamy

Topics: Leonardo DiCaprio, Keanu Reeves, US News, TV and Film

Dominic Smithers
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