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Director Lasse Hallström admitted he was initially looking for a less good-looking actor but finally settled on Di Caprio as he had emerged as "the most observant actor" among all auditionees.
Di Caprio's debut film role was in the comedic sci-fi horror film Critters 3, in which he played the stepson of an evil landlord, a role that Di Caprio described as "your average, no-depth, standard kid with blond hair." Soon after, he became a recurring cast member on the ABC sitcom Growing Pains, playing Luke Brower, a homeless boy who is taken in by the Seaver family.
The project achieved a worldwide box office take of 7 million.
Later that year, he starred in Jerry Zaks' family drama Marvin's Room, reuniting with Robert De Niro.
Based on Scott Mc Pherson's screenplay adaptation of his own 1991 stage play of the same name, the film revolves around two sisters, played by Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton, who are reunited through tragedy after 17 years of estrangement.
In 1997, Di Caprio starred in James Cameron's Titanic (1997) as twenty-year-old Jack Dawson, a penniless Wisconsin man who wins two tickets for the third-class on the ill-fated RMS Titanic.
Di Caprio made his big screen breakthrough in 1992, when he was handpicked by Robert De Niro out of 400 young actors to play the lead role in This Boy's Life.
Later in 1993, Di Caprio co-starred as the mentally handicapped brother of Johnny Depp's character in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, a comic-tragic odyssey of a dysfunctional Iowa family.After being removed from the set of children's television series Romper Room for being disruptive at the age of five, In 1990, he got his break on television when he was cast in the short-lived series based on the movie Parenthood.After Parenthood, Di Caprio had bit parts on several shows, including The New Lassie and Roseanne, as well as a brief stint on the soap opera Santa Barbara, playing the young Mason Capwell.He played an American backpacking tourist looking for the perfect way of life in a secret island commune in the Gulf of Thailand.Budgeted at $US50 million, the film became a financial success, grossing $US144 million worldwide, Todd Mc Carthy of Variety noted that "Richard [Di Caprio's role] is too much the American Everyman and not enough of a well-defined individual to entirely capture one's interest and imagination, and Di Caprio, while perfectly watchable, does not endow him with the quirks or distinguishing marks to make this man from nowhere a dimensional character." Di Caprio's first film of 2002 was the biographical crime drama film Catch Me If You Can, based on the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., who, before his 19th birthday, used his charm, confidence, and several different personas, to make millions in the 1960s writing bad checks.Di Caprio initially refused to portray the character but was eventually encouraged to pursue the role by Cameron, who strongly believed in his acting ability.