News / Arts & Entertainment

Leonardo DiCaprio Devotes Off-Screen Time to Saving Planet

Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Alan Silverman

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the world's most popular movie stars. His films, including Titanic, The Aviator and The Departed have grossed almost $5 billion worldwide. But the actor is trying to use his celebrity status to do more than sell tickets. Alan Silverman has a look at DiCaprio's off-screen commitment to the environment.



In his new film J. Edgar, Leonardo DiCaprio stars as J. Edgar Hoover, famous for making the FBI into a world-renowned law enforcement agency and infamous for the files he kept on Americans both in and out of power.  

"Is that legal?"

"Sometimes you have to bend the rules a little in order to keep your country safe."

Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer in "J. Edgar"
Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer in "J. Edgar"

"It's interesting in this day and age to do a film about political espionage and wiretapping," notes DiCaprio. "I don't think those types of secrets that J. Edgar Hoover was able to obtain and keep would be possible in today's world. With the Internet and 'Wikileaks' it doesn't seem that those types of secrets can be kept for that long a period of time."

It's no secret, though, that DiCaprio is a committed and vocal environmental activist. More than a decade ago he inspired a Hollywood trend by becoming the first among his peers to start driving a fuel-efficient hybrid car.

"I think that every car should have that technology," DiCaprio says. "It really has dramatically less emissions and, not only that, the gas mileage is unbelievable. If we have the technology to make every car like that - and we should - we would reduce our dependence on oil, foreign and domestic."

DiCaprio says he's been fascinated by nature ever since he was a child growing up in smog-choked Los Angeles.

"I actually wanted to be a marine biologist when I was very young. That was a great passion of mine, so I suppose in the off-season when not making movies, I became more and more active as an environmentalist and tried to be more vocal about issues that I felt were important,"  he explains.

The Leonardo diCaprio Foundation, established in 1998 to promote a sustainable future, has been active in issues ranging from eliminating plastic grocery bags to ending shark-finning, the brutal practice blamed for a steep decline in shark populations around the world.

"Right now, the campaign that I'm a part of is to save the last remaining wild tigers throughout Asia," explains DiCaprio. "There are only 3,200 left in the wild. There are more Asian tigers in cages in Texas than there are tigers in the wild and we are at risk of losing this iconic species for all time."

At an Asian tiger summit in Moscow last year, DiCaprio personally donated $1 million to a program for protecting habitat as well as wildlife.

"Throughout Asia, a lot of countries are selling off jungle and forest rights for palm oil and for paper and pulp companies. So it's more of land preservation effort," he explains, "because if you can unify the public behind saving an iconic species like the tiger, like they did with the panda, that means you need to protect their habitat and everything that they hunt."

DiCaprio has won acclaim for his encyclopedic knowledge of the environment and sustainability. He says he uses his movie star status to draw attention to what he considers a global concern.

"It's important to everybody," DiCaprio stresses. "I think that the environmental movement is the biggest people movement in the world."

DiCaprio also brings his environmental activism into the workplace, requiring his film projects to adopt "green" practices to prevent wasting resources.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Saxophonist Craig Handy has an exciting new band called 2nd Line Smith, which combines the organ-jazz repertoire of Jimmy Smith with the “second line” rhythms of New Orleans parade music. Craig Handy joins "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten at Washington’s Bohemian Caverns jazz club to talk about the music and perform with the band.