He certainly knows what he wants. At the age of six, he decided he wanted to be an actor. When he was seven, he tried to get an agent. The agent said he should change his name because it was too Italian. Leonardo refused.

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the hottest young film stars around at the moment.

His face has been on the covers of all the top movie and youth magazines and he has been the subject of countless articles, rumours and showbiz gossip. Leonardo doesn't like reading about himself. "I read things about me that I've LEONARDO DICAPRIO never said in my life and never done," he says.

Leonardo DiCaprio was born in Los Angeles on November 11,1974. He's a Scorpio.

His full name is Leonardo Wilhelm DiCaprio. His mother is German and his father Italian-American. They called him Leonardo because when his mother was pregnant he started kicking while she was standing in front of a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci.

His parents separated before he was born. Leo grew up in a poor neighbourhood of Hollywood.

At school he was very good at imitating people (especially Michael Jackson). This made him very LEONARDO DICAPRIO popular. His childhood hero was Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea.

After appearing in TV commercials, he played the part of a homeless boy in a TV comedy.

His big break was his leading role in This Boy's Life.

One of his least famous films is Total Eclipse which tells the story of the poet Arthur Rimbaud and his relationship with the writer Verlaine.

One of his most famous films was a modem version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet set in a fantasy world. Leo described his first kiss for a film as, "the most disgusting thing LEONARDO DICAPRIO in my life."

After the tremendous success of Titanic, "Leomania" hit the world.

Leo simply says of the Titanic experience: "I was part of something that doesn't come about often, if ever. I can tell my grandchildren I was in the film." In Leo's opinion, "the film will be remembered forever."

He spent his post-Titanic life avoiding interviews. "Certainly that whole year was a huge learning experience for me. There's no handbook on what it's like to become famous and how to survive it." He says that "fame is a monster that you have no LEONARDO DICAPRIO control over. If you try to fight it, it just feeds the fire."

Leonardo is very careful about the roles he chooses. He turned down the role of Robin in Batman Forever and it took him an awfully long time to choose The Beach.

Leo likes his job. "The best thing about acting is that I get to lose myself in another character and actually get paid for it," he says. "As for myself, I'm not sure who I am. It seems that I change every day."

(from Speak Out, abridged)