Leonardo DiCaprio is an incredibly talented actor born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He’s won one Oscar and three Golden Globes, but has been nominated for a total of 167 awards for his roles in big movies like Titanic, The Revenant, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and many more. DiCaprio has been hugely successful despite spending most of his adult life living with mild to moderate Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is relatively common - according to UOCD, about 1 in 200 people are affected. The National Institute of Mental Health defines it as a “chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” This can manifest itself in many forms - obsessive hand washing, repeatedly entering and exiting the same doorway, turning a light on and off and on and off and on and off and back on again. Many times, the actions are repeated because something about the way they were done the first time just doesn’t feel “right”. The person needs to repeat the action until it is done “right,” even though oftentimes the action itself does not change at all. DiCaprio has admitted that his obsessive behaviors were particularly focused around repetitively walking through doorways as well as stepping on all visible chewing gum stains.
An important factor to recognize is that these obsessive thoughts and behaviors are uncontrollable - even if a person is aware that what they are doing is weird or obsessive, they typically are unable to stop themselves. OCD can drastically affect someone’s life because it is difficult for the people surrounding them to understand and tolerate these behaviors. Luckily for Leo, he has received the support needed to become hugely successful in spite of his struggles with this condition.
In the 2004 film “The Aviator”, DiCaprio plays the role of Howard Hughes, a billionaire filmmaker turned pilot who also struggled with obsessive compulsive disorder. About his own OCD in comparison to Hughes’, DiCaprio told The Telegraph, "I can talk myself through it, you know, whereas Howard Hughes couldn't do that and people with hard-core OCD can't. During filming I let it all go and I never listened to the other voice, so I remember my make-up artist and assistant walking me to the set and going, 'Oh, God, here he goes again. We're going to need 10 minutes to get him to the set today because he has to walk back and step on that thing and touch the door in a certain way and then walk in and walk out again.' I let myself do it because I wanted that to come out. I was trying to be the character. It became real bothersome, even after the filming."
Ultimately, Leo is living proof that having OCD doesn’t have to be burdensome, as it has actually helped him in certain aspects of his life, including the filming of this role. This goes to show that even a struggle with mental illness can have a silver lining.