Leonardo DiCaprio Once Called Tom Hanks His ‘Role Model’

Are Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks friends? DiCaprio once referred to the Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood star as “the best” and a “role model.”

Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks starred in ‘Catch Me If You Can’ together

Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio meet in the Ace Eddie Awards green room
Leonardo Dicaprio and Tom Hanks | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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The actors teamed up in 2002 for this Steven Spielberg movie. DiCaprio played real-life con-man, Frank Abagnale. A talented document forger, his teenage character soon found himself on the FBI’s radar. 

Abagnale not only impersonated doctors, lawyers, and pilots, he also used fake checks to steal money from banks. Always just a few steps behind the master forger was Hanks’ character, Carl Hanratty. Every time the FBI agent came close to catching Abagnale he somehow managed to slip away. 

Hanks and DiCaprio weren’t the only major stars in the film. The Catch Me If You Can cast also included, Martin Sheen, Christopher Walken, James Brolin, Jennifer Garner, Ellen Pompeo, and Amy Adams.  

The ‘Titanic’ alum looked to his co-star as a ‘great example’ during filming

DiCaprio was 28 when he played a teenage con-man. At the time, the now-46-year-old had already starred in multiple box office hits including Romeo + Juliet and Titanic. Although he’d successfully transitioned out of being a child actor, he never stopped looking to his co-stars for tips. 

“My whole education as an actor and my whole training has come from being able to work with the actors that I’ve worked with and watching their process,” DiCaprio told Hollywood.com in 2002. “That’s been my college. The more I work with actors of this caliber, the more I learn, the more I pick up.” 

He continued, saying what he learned from Hanks while making Catch Me If You Can

“That guy … the best, a consummate professional,” he said. “Tom is very much a role model for me because he is able to just refine what he does. He has such a passion and exuberance for the work. I don’t want to get cynical about what I do; I don’t ever want to lose that spirit. So he was a great example about how to retain all that even when you’re at the upper echelons of this business.”

How did Hanks respond? 

“Leo is so far ahead of the game–he’s an incredibly talented guy who’s been through wringers that I can’t even begin to comprehend,” he said. “So he’s got nothing to learn from me!”

Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t spend much time together on set

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Even though they were the stars of the movie, Hanks and DiCaprio didn’t see each other much. Spielberg decided to match the shooting schedule with the fast-paced nature of the story. That meant the two leads didn’t have much downtime together. Hanks explained it during a Catch Me If You Can press junket in 2002.

“Steven wants to shoot fast,” he said. “Part of it is the thematic element of the movie. It is a chase and you can get bogged down, and there’s just no reason to linger. So, Steven says, ‘I’m going to make it quick, I’m gonna make it fast, it’ll be just like the movie, 52 days.’” 

Did Hanks and DiCaprio become friends on set? They didn’t really have time to bond much. However, they’ve stayed connected in other ways. Hanks owns the typewriter DiCaprio used in the movie.