5 Leonardo DiCaprio Movies Where He Plays A Hero

Leonardo DiCaprio is an all-time great actor and part of the reason is his incredible ability to portray both heroes and villains on the big screen.

Calvin Candie, Jack Dawson and Jordan Belfort

Throughout Hollywood history, a select group of performers transcend time, such as Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, and Meryl Streep. Of course, Leonardo DiCaprio is on his way to joining that prestigious group of actors. DiCaprio has starred in timeless classics, unforgettable blockbusters and set numerous records.

He often gives show-stealing performances that propelled him to the top of Hollywood. DiCaprio’s a versatile actor that can play any role, including a courageous hero, a sinister villain, or a tormented anti-hero. He has appeared in a long list of critically acclaimed movies that broke box office records. At times, DiCaprio has played the good guy who saves the day. He’s also portrayed some of the most ruthless and cruel characters. Other times, his characters tread dangerously between good and evil.

Calvin J. Candie (Django Unchained) – Villain

Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie in Django Unchained

Few people were brave enough to cross the ruthless, sick, and sadistic Calvin J. Candie. Candie proudly owned Mississipi’s fourth-largest plantation, Candyland, in the late 1850s. Indeed, Candie owned a brothel and enjoyed forcing his slaves to compete in fights.

Of course, he made the mistake of crossing Django Freeman. Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed the evil Candie in Quentin Tarantino’s critically acclaimed 2012 movie Django Unchained. DiCaprio received universal praise for his bone-chilling performance as the monstrous Calvin Candie, including a Golden Globe nomination.

Billy Costigan Jr. (The Departed) – Hero

Billy Costigan Jr. in The Departed

In 2006, Leonardo DiCaprio played undercover police officer Billy Costigan Jr. in Martin Scorsese’s classic The Departed. Fans and critics praised DiCaprio’s performance as the fearless but stressed-out Costigan. Costigan isn’t without his flaws and struggles emotionally with his undercover assignment in the Irish mob.

Costigan is the ultimate hero searching for an identity and is willing to sacrifice his life. He follows a strict moral code while furthering his mission.

Brandon Darrow (Celebrity) – Villain

Brandon Darrow

Leonardo DiCaprio’s played a wide range of villains, from ruthless monsters to charming criminals. In 1998, he took on the role of spoiled movie star Brandon Darrow in Celebrity. The movie received mostly negative reviews, but critics praised DiCaprio’s standout performance.

Darrow’s a destructive Hollywood star that trashes his hotel rooms, loses control, and is abusive towards his girlfriend. He even drags the main character, journalist Lee Simon, into his world of debauchery, violence, and chaos.

Dominick “Dom” Cobb (Inception) – Hero

Dom Cobb

Dom Cobb has a sordid criminal history that he wishes to leave behind him. Despite his questionable past, Cobb is a good man trying to get back to his kids. Fans and critics praised Leonardo DiCaprio’s outstanding performance in Christopher Nolan’s 2010 movie Inception.

Cobb’s past haunts him, as does the memory of his late wife. He’ll go to extreme measures to ensure he can erase his history and return home. However, he must enter a billionaire’s dream first. Of course, he has a noble reason to find redemption and return to his kids.

J. Edgar Hoover (J.Edgar) – Villain

J. Edgar Hoover

The first F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover is an important historical figure. In 2011, Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed Hoover in Clint Eastwood’s biopic, J. Edgar. Indeed, DiCaprio portrayed Hoover more as an anti-hero. At times, his performance comes across as a hero trying to protect his country.

However, he appears to be the villain in specific scenes, such as attempting to blackmail Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King. DiCaprio’s depiction of Hoover walks a fine line between right and wrong. The movie received mostly mixed reviews from critics. Nonetheless, DiCaprio received widespread praise for his portrayal of Hoover.

Rick Dalton (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood) – Hero

Cliff Booth and Rick Dalton talking and handing out in a restaurant in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

In 1969, Rick Dalton was a washed-up actor desperate to reclaim his past glory. He struggled with insecurities, heavy drinking, and relationships. Dalton doesn’t always come across as the good guy, but he does try. In 2019, Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed the deeply flawed Rick Dalton in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood to rave reviews.

The movie weaves in the real-life events involving Charles Manson, the Manson Family, and actress Sharon Tate. In this fictionalized version of history, Dalton, his stunt double Cliff Booth, and Booth’s dog Brandy save the day. They’re able to stop the Manson family before they can commit their crimes.

Frank Abagnale Jr. (Catch Me If You Can) – Villain


Fans and critics loved Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of real-life con man Frank Abagnale Jr. In 2002, DiCaprio starred in Steven Speilberg’s Catch Me If You Can along with Tom Hanks. DiCaprio brought the former imposter and forger to life in this thrilling classic.

He was able to make Abagnale a sympathetic character, yet he’s certainly the villain. Abagnale made millions in forgeries and had several different identities, including a lawyer, a doctor, and a Pan American pilot. DiCaprio’s incredible performance impressed audiences and helped turn him into a top-leading star.

Hugh Glass (The Revenant) – Hero
In the 1820s, Hugh Glass had to fight for his life against ruthless enemies, the harsh elements, and a vicious grizzly bear. In 2015, Leonardo DiCaprio earned universal praise for his phenomenal performance as Glass in the epic movie The Revenant.

Glass overcomes injuries and seeks revenge against his enemy John Fitzgerald. He even assists and frees helpless people along his journey. DiCaprio’s show-stealing performance earned him his first Academy Award win. He had been nominated several times before but never won. The Revenant remains one of DiCaprio’s most outstanding performances.

Jordan Belfort (The Wolf of Wall Street) – Villain

Jordan Belfort

Leonardo DiCaprio dazzled fans with his portrayal of the corrupt and greedy real-life stockbroker Jordan Belfort. In 2013, DiCaprio starred in Martin Scorsese’s blockbuster The Wolf Of Wall Street. The film did stir up some controversy for its depiction of certain events.

Belfort made millions through fraud and excessive corruption. Of course, DiCaprio brought this morally ambiguous character to life in the epic movie. DiCaprio’s played a long list of protagonists that can be either a hero or a villain. However, his performance certainly lands Belfort in the villain category.

Jack Dawson (Titanic) – Hero

Jack Dawson scream at the front of the ship in Titanic

It’s safe to assume that Jack Dawson will go down in history as one of the greatest heroes of all time. Jack was charming, fearless, and always did the right thing. He was the ultimate underdog and even sacrificed himself to save the love of his life, Rose. In 1997, Leonardo DiCaprio became a household name with his breakthrough performance in the critically acclaimed movie Titanic.

It set box office records and is one of the greatest movies of all time. The film weaves in the incredible love story of Jack & Rose with the real-life sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. DiCaprio’s portrayal of the heroic Jack Dawson turned him into a major movie star.

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