Why Leonardo DiCaprio Was Advised To Change His Name Early In His Career

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most recognizable faces in entertainment, with one of the most uniquely recognizable monikers to boot. And yet, although DiCaprio has been a fixture on our screens since he was a cute kid appearing in commercials, it took a long time for him to consider acting as a viable career. DiCaprio even admitted to Variety, "I always thought Hollywood was this magical world where a fairy came down and said, 'Come live with the Munchkins; you are now one of us.' " 

As the Oscar-winner shrugged, "I didn't understand the concept of it as a career. I thought I would save up enough money to go to college." DiCaprio comes from humble beginnings, rather than being born into a Hollywood family, which goes some way towards explaining why he didn't understand his own star power at the time. Nowadays, of course, DiCaprio is a bonafide A-lister who calls the likes of Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino collaborators and friends. 

However, although there's no denying who the "Titanic" star is, there was a time when the actor was advised that, if he ever wanted to make it, DiCaprio shouldn't use his own name. 

Leonardo DiCaprio was told his name was "too ethnic"

Leonardo DiCaprio might sound like a stage name, but it actually isn't. Although most people don't call him "Leonardo," preferring the shorter "Leo," as he told ShortList, at one stage even that was considered too much. The actor recalled how, at the age of 11, when he was initially trying to launch his professional career and meeting with an agent accordingly, "They wanted to change my name to Lenny Williams." DiCaprio explained, "They felt my name was too ethnic and I wouldn't get as many jobs." 

Sadly, it stopped his acting career in its tracks, at least for a while. By the age of 13, DiCaprio was finally ready to try again. Thankfully, he "got an agent to accept me with my name." And if you're wondering where his first name came from, the "Wolf of Wall Street" star regaled NPR with a story about how his parents were admiring a Leonardo da Vinci portrait during their honeymoon in Florence, when suddenly, "I started kicking furiously while my mother was pregnant." 

He continued, "My father took that as a sign, and I suppose DiCaprio wasn't that far from da Vinci. And so, my dad, being the artist that he is, said, 'That's our boy's name.'"