Leonardo DiCaprio Was So Overwhelmed By the Attention From ‘Titanic’ He Basically Went Into Hiding For Over a Year — ‘I Ran Away From It All’

Leonardo DiCaprio has been one of the world’s biggest stars for many years. And while he’s done several blockbuster movies that have continuously increased his profile, one, in particular, made him a superstar.

James Cameron’s Titanic was a monster hit that catapulted DiCaprio into fame and fortune, changing his life forever. However, at the time, DiCaprio was quite overwhelmed by his overnight fame. 

‘Titanic’ was a worldwide phenomenon

Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio (L) arrives with actress and Titanic co-star Kate Winslet for the 55th Annual Golden Globe Awards | HAL GARB/AFP via Getty Images

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Nobody expected Titanic to become a global sensation. Titanic was a megahit at the box office, earning over $1 billion upon release. It also won 11 Academy Awards, tying the all-time record.

There was no doubt about it—DiCaprio was a bonafide star.

Leonardo DiCaprio was overwhelmed by his overnight fame from ‘Titanic’

Even though DiCaprio had already built a bit of a profile from his previous films, he became an international superstar after Titanic. His overnight shift from niche actor to global icon was tough to grasp, and DiCaprio felt uncomfortable with the attention.

“I basically kind of ran away from it all, I think,” DiCaprio admitted in a resurfaced 2014 Variety interview. “… It wasn’t necessarily the success of it all, but it was just—you know, I think it’s probably a lot worse nowadays for people who are sort of pushed into the limelight like that because [of] the media and the intense sort of scrutiny of the internet and all that.”

Leonardo DiCaprio waited for the dust to settle from ‘Titanic’ before moving forward

Even though DiCaprio wanted to escape all of the attention, there was literally nowhere in the world he could go to hide from it. In turn, he decided to wait things out and use his newfound status to work on a project he really loved.  

“But even at that time, for me … [there] was nowhere to sort of run to,” DiCaprio added. “And I sort of wanted to say, ‘Ok, I want to kind of let everything kind of calm down, let the dust settle from this movie, regroup, and go find a project that I’m really, really, passionate about, and I really wanna do. So I didn’t work for a while.” 

The superstar actor started looking for a role he could sink his teeth into

After a year-and-a-half away from production sets, DiCaprio knew it was time to get back to work. He saw his newfound status as a tool he could use to get any role he really wanted.

“At that time was when I really said to myself, ‘Ok, here I am with this incredible opportunity, what am I going to do with it? … People dream about being in the position where they can finance a film based on their name,’ and I said to myself, ‘Let’s go back to the drawing board, … and now you can make movies that you want.”

“Not that Titanic wasn’t something I wanted to do, but you can really be in control of your career like never before,” DiCaprio said. “You can develop things and seek things out that are interesting to you, and pursue them and get them financed.”

Passing on the lead role in American Psycho, DiCaprio went on to star in The Beach in 2000. The film was a financial success but was poorly received by critics.