Pitt and DiCaprio: Hollywood heartthrobs who push their limits

22 May 2019, Hollywood (AFP)

US actor Brad Pitt (L) and US actor Leonardo DiCaprio — seen at the Cannes screening of their new film “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” — have been pushing boundaries for 30 years

The stars were aligned for Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio to put their dashing good looks to use on big-budget films, but both Hollywood golden boys have instead taken on more idiosyncratic career paths — especially in working with Quentin Tarantino.

And now for the first time, the actors are starring side by side in Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”, which the American director screened on Tuesday to rapturous reviews at the Cannes film festival.

Both men have already starred in past Tarantino films — the 55-year-old Pitt in “Inglourious Basterds” and DiCaprio, 44, in “Django Unchained”.

The consummate urbanite DiCaprio was born and raised in Los Angeles, the son of New Yorkers. As a pre-teen, he began pushing to do what he loved: act.

Pitt on the other hand grew up in rural Missouri in a family of devout Baptists. To his community’s shock, he took off alone one day and drove to Los Angeles, two weeks before receiving an undergraduate degree in journalism.

Despite the age gap between them, they both began making splashes in Hollywood in the early 1990s.

Pitt set tongues wagging in 1991 with “Thelma and Louise” and DiCaprio hit the big time in 1993 with “This Boy’s Life” and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” the latter earning him an Oscar nomination.

– Dashing leading men –

The two men belong to timeworn class of dapper A-listers including Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Steve McQueen, who have enchanted audiences with their features and charisma.

“People at (the University of) Missouri were really surprised when they found out what Brad was doing,” Pitt’s friend Chris Schudy told Rolling Stone magazine in 1994.

“But he’s always been so charming that it made some sense. The first time my mom met him, she called him a little Roman god.”

Pitt says that his reputation as a pretty face was something he “used to wrestle with a lot”, telling television personality Charlie Rose in 2004 that today, “I accept it pretty much for what it is.”

Soon after their big breaks, both Pitt and DiCaprio quickly climbed through the ranks thanks to their acting chops and movie star looks — but like Johnny Depp before them, they weren’t afraid of subverting their mega-watt stardom.

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