When I first read how Leonardo DiCaprio slept in an animal carcass and gnawed on raw bison to transform himself into Hugh Glass, I may have felt a little queasy—but I can’t say I was surprised.
Leo’s talent is limitless, but his secret has always been pretty simple: he’s real. He does his homework. He knows what he’s talking about. That’s how he takes himself back in time 200 years to create an Oscar-winning, bear-brawling, powerhouse performance in The Revenant.
Preparation, authenticity and smarts are at the core of who he is as an artist. But I admire him even more for putting those formidable tools toward becoming such a galvanizing force to protect our planet. Since 1998, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has provided grants to conservation projects in more than 44 countries. He has employed his cinematic skills—in front of the lens and behind it—to make films that document our planet’s plight. He has discussed environmental threats directly with world leaders from Vladimir Putin to Pope Francis. And when I invited him to join the State Department’s first global Our Ocean conference, aimed at building collaboration to protect one of our most critical resources, Leo didn’t just show up—he put up millions of dollars for ocean protection as part of the effort.
Twenty years ago, Leo captured the hearts of millions of moviegoers by declaring, “I’m the king of the world!” Through his work and example, today he’s inspiring many millions more to help save it.
Kerry is the U.S. Secretary of State