Leonardo DiCaprio's Secret Weapons: Inside His Counterculture Childhood with Parents George and Irmelin

Leonardo DiCaprio: Inside His Counterculture Childhood
Irmelin, Leonardo and George DiCaprio
Peter Fleming/Retna Ltd

updated 02/28/2016 AT 08:05 PM EST

originally published 02/05/2016 AT 11:45 AM EST

Behind every great man are great parents.

Over the course of many bold career choices and a much-chronicled love life, including many models, the constants in Leonardo DiCaprio's life have been his parents, George and Irmelin DiCaprio.

The 41-year-old star, who is up for his fifth Academy Award nomination, credits his parents for his current success.

"To my parents, thank you for listening to an overly ambitious, slightly annoying 13-year-old kid who wanted to go on auditions every day after school," he said in his acceptance speech at the 2016 Screen Actors Guild Award Saturday, where he won outstanding performance by a male actor in a leading role.



Leonardo, born in Los Angeles, had a counterculture childhood. George was an underground comic book distributor, and Irmelin was a legal secretary. In a 2002 interview with 20/20's Barbara Walters, he said his parents were "Bohemian in every sense of the word." When he was younger, he would travel with his father to comic book stores around the country. He was also allowed to drop out of high school to pursue acting.

From a young age, his parents tried to expose him to as much as possible. When he was 14, he watched Robert De Niro movies with his father, who would say, "Son, watch closely because this is what great acting looks like," Leonardo recalled in November at the SAG Foundation Awards. Three years later, he worked with De Niro on This Boy's Life.

His parents have always been on hand to support him. According to a 1995 New York Times profile, his parents both worked for his production company at the time, and George used to read through scripts and pick ones out he thought his son should consider.


Throughout his career, Leonardo has avoided sequels and franchises, preferring to take on more daring roles like his recent turn as Hugh Glass in The Revenant, a role that called for him to eat raw bison liver.

"My dad always told me, 'Go out there, son, and whatever you do, I don't care if you're successful or not, just have an interesting life,' " Leonardo recently told Parade.



To this day, he usually brings either George or Irmelin as his date to award shows. Most recently, George accompanied him to the 2016 Golden Globes Awards, where Leonardo took home the prize for best actor in a motion picture, drama.

The Oscar frontrunner also honored his parents as he accepted the Actors Inspiration Award at the SAG Foundation 30th anniversary celebration: "Irmelin, George – I would not be receiving this award and I would not be the actor that I am or be able to do any of the philanthropy that this job has given me the opportunity to have, and I wouldn't the person I am without the both of you, so thank you."

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