A Tale of Two Leos: DiCaprio to Play Da Vinci in Hollywood Biopic

The actor and collector, who’s named after the Renaissance polymath, is fulfilling his destiny.

Leonardo DiCaprio. Photo Mike Windle/Getty Images.
Leonardo DiCaprio. Photo Mike Windle/Getty Images.

It’s a match made in (Hollywood) heaven: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio will play Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci in a film based on a biography written by Walter Isaacson, set to be published in October.

According to Deadline, there’s been a furious seven-figure bidding war for the rights to the book between Paramount and Universal, with Paramount, which had expressed its interest earlier, finally prevailing.

Has the Hollywood star been waiting for this moment all his life? Is it, in fact, his birthright? DiCaprio—who combines his triumphant film career with serious art collecting and a host of philanthropic initiatives—was in fact named after the Italian painter and scientist. According to Tinseltown lore, Leo’s pregnant mother was looking at a Da Vinci painting in an Italian museum when he kicked in her belly for the first time, and so his name was determined.

We’ll have to wait until the film’s release to find out whether we’ll get to see DiCaprio tackling the canvas to paint the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper, or dipping a pen in ink to draw the iconic Vitruvian Man, but one can only hope.

What’s certain is that the actor is keen on having as much control as he can on the final product. The biopic will be produced by Appian Way, a company founded by DiCaprio himself that has produced films like The Revenant, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The Ides of March.

To write the book that will be adapted into the film, Isaacson—who’s also written best-selling biographies on Steve Jobs and Einstein—immersed himself in Da Vinci’s notebooks, crafting a narrative that weaves together his artistic and scientific endeavors.

According to a press release by the publishers, the genius was also “a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical.”


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