Leonardo DiCaprio Takes Film Sabbatical to Focus on Environmental Issues

Has any contemporary actor had a more impressive career than Leo? He started out as a smart-mouthed foster kid on Growing Pains, skyrocketed to superstardom after that movie about the boat, and has since worked with Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Ridley Scott. He’s played Romeo, Howard Hughes, and J. Edgar Hoover — and now, he’s preparing for his next role: devoted environmentalist. And just to prove he’s serious, Mr. DiCaprio is taking an extended hiatus from acting to focus on green causes.

During a recent interview with August Man (he’s scheduled to appear on the magazine’s February 2013 cover), DiCaprio discussed his decision to temporarily abandon the Hollywood scene. The Academy Award-nominated actor turns 40 next year, and it seems as though this impending benchmark has caused him to do a little soul-searching. “I believe it’s very important to look back on the choices you’ve made and re-analyze where you want your life to go and the things you want to do as an individual,” he said.

His current plan: to fly around the world, spreading an eco-friendly message to those he encounters — and according to ABC Newshe plans to “retire indefinitely” from acting.  ”I am a bit drained. I’m now going to take a long, long break,” he told German newspaper Bild, adding that he has filmed three films in the last two years. “I would like to improve the world a bit. I will fly around the world doing good for the environment.” Where he will travel is anyone’s guess at this point, but the actor reportedly practiced his German with co-star Christoph Waltz during filming of his most recent release, Django Unchained.

Leo is no stranger to environmental activism. In 1998, he and his family founded the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which awards grants to various projects that promote global sustainability and sponsors environmental awareness media campaigns. In addition to the foundation that shares his name, DiCaprio is involved with many charity organizations and serves on the board of the World Wildlife Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, International Fund for Animal Welfare, and Global Green USA. His home is equipped with solar panels, and his garage contains a Toyota Prius, Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid, and a Tesla Roadster. And in 2007, he produced, directed, and narrated The 11th Hour, a feature-length documentary about the dangerous effects of climate change brought on by carbon emissions and wasteful living.

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s current efforts include:

  • The Save Tigers Now campaign spotlights the dire plight of big cats in Southeast Asia, and works (in partnership with WWF) to conserve natural tiger habitats and bolster anti-poaching efforts throughout the region.
  • The Save the Shark project works with oceanic conservation groups to boost worldwide shark populations and increase legislation that imposes stiffer penalties on fishermen who poach the animals and illegally sell their fins (primarily for human consumption).
  • Protect Antarctica’s Ocean, a collaboration with global civic organization Avaaz, is seeking signatures for a petition that would designate a wide stretch of the Antarctic Ocean as a wildlife sanctuary for whales, penguins and thousands of other marine species.

For more information about the LDF and its ongoing efforts, please visit the organization’s official website. On behalf of Wenger Blog, best of luck to Mr. DiCaprio during his prolonged environmental outreach project.

By Brad Nehring