Leonardo DiCaprio Wanders Paradise In This Overlooked Streaming Drama

By Britta DeVore | Updated

leonardo dicaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach (2000)

Just the beginning of his rise to the top, three years after Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio splashed into a new depth in The Beach, a thrilling story that’s an absolute must-watch for any Starz subscribers as it’s now on the streaming platform. 

One of the most talked about up-and-coming young stars of the ‘90s, by the time Leonardo DiCaprio snagged his role as Jack Dawson in James Cameron’s 1997 historical romantic drama Titanic, he had already made quite a name for himself. Having appeared in critically acclaimed titles including What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Basketball Diaries, The Quick and the Dead, Romeo + Juliet, and Marvin’s Room, Leo mania was at an all-time high when he appeared as Kate Winslet’s doomed lover.

The Beach, an early Leonardo DiCaprio led hit, is streaming on Starz.

Following his role in Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio appeared in Randall Wallace’s The Man in the Iron Mask and Woody Allen’s Celebrity but it was with 2000’s The Beach that he broke into the new millennium in all his heartthrob glory. Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 127 Hours), DiCaprio starred alongside a cast that included Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton), Virginie Ledoyen (The Valet), Robert Carlyle (28 Weeks Later), and Guillaume Canet (Love Me if You Dare).

leonardo dicaprrio
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach (2000)

A thriller that focuses on the idea of what one would do to find and hold onto paradise, The Beach sees Leonardo DiCaprio as a young American traveler named Richard who, while traveling to Thailand, learns about a hidden beach off the coast. With a map in hand, he travels to the destination with two travel friends only to discover that a deal has been struck between locals and newcomers that prohibits the arrival of any fresh faces.

Throughout the film, audiences go on a thrilling ride with Richard as his physical, moral, and emotional boundaries are pushed to the edge while he tries to keep a tight grip on this seemingly perfect world.

Although it gained mixed feedback from critics, The Beach had the star power of Leonardo DiCaprio as its leader, something that brought audiences out in droves. Up against its $50 million production budget, the Danny Boyle-helmed feature raked in a staggering $144.1 million at the global box office. 

Boyle turned out to be lucky with Leonardo DiCaprio’s casting as, at first, the role of Richard was meant to go to Ewan McGregor. Boyle and McGregor had previously worked together on the former’s cult classic feature, Trainspotting, but following some creative differences, the duo parted ways. This caused a rift in their friendship and filmmaking collaboration, with the pair finally mending their fences almost 20 years later and working together on the Trainspotting sequel in 2017.

In a way, art imitated life while 20th Century Fox was filming the Leonardo DiCaprio-led film as the studio, in an attempt to make the surrounding beaches of Ko Phi Phi Le more “paradise-like” bulldozed, and shifted the natural landscape.

From shifting sand dunes to chopping down coconut trees, the work of the studio was a morally questionable one and one that brought about a lot of controversy, including a lawsuit. On top of these disturbances, the film drove up tourism to the area, with it never quite recovering from the effect of humans until the COVID-19 pandemic began to slow down travel two decades later.

Although it gained mixed feedback from critics, The Beach had the star power of Leonardo DiCaprio as its leader, something that brought audiences out in droves.

Tilda Swinton in The Beach (2000)

It’s hard to believe that in the grand scheme of things, The Beach was still at the beginning of Leonardo DiCaprio’s career. His celebrated performances in the ‘90s gave way to further superstardom in the 2000s as he moved out of his teen looks and into those of a grown man.

DiCaprio’s Career After The Beach

Shortly after his work with Danny Boyle, the actor would kick off the 2000s with performances in Catch Me if You Can, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, and Blood Diamond, with each role gaining him a new level of acting status. 

As we know, Leonardo DiCaprio’s career has only gone up from here, becoming a frequent collaborator with directors including Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese, as well as other big-wigs like Christopher Nolan, Clint Eastwood, Adam McKay, and more.

Up next, audiences can catch the star in yet another Martin Scorcese film, Killers of the Flower Moon, which comes out on October 20, 2023. For now, take a trip down memory lane and check out The Beach where it’s streaming on Amazon Prime Video for those with subscriptions on Starz.