ISSUE DATE: Feb. 21, 2000
DiCaprio isn’t as in touch with American culture as American culture is with him. The son of a legal secretary and a hippie underground-comic-book artist, both retired, DiCaprio still thinks of himself as an edgy indie actor, not the Tiger Beat cover boy. “I have no connection with me during that whole Titanic phenomenon and what my face became around the world.” Which is good. Otherwise, he might beat himself up.
Although it’s got to hurt deep inside, DiCaprio says he’s at peace with being usurped by the Backstreet Boys. “I’ll never reach that state of popularity again, and I don’t expect to,” he says. “It’s not something I’m going to try to achieve either.” Instead, he has spent his post-Titanic life avoiding interviews. “I feel so uncomfortable doing publicity,” he says, and then proves it by spending the rest of the evening chewing on mint Stim-u-dent toothpicks, biting his nails, cracking his knuckles and loudly sucking in wallops of air through his teeth and generally becoming a human beat box. “A long-term career has a lot to do with people not understanding who you are. There are always going to be new facets of you as a human being, and I want to be able to release them bit by bit. I’m acting like I’m some sort of complex riddle,” he says, fearing he’s sounding too pompous. “But the truth is, I don’t want to let everyone know who I am and what I’m thinking.”
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