“My father has always been a huge force with me,” The Revenant actor told GQ in 2011.
From taking his son to counterculture concerts to offering crucial career advice, here are five things about Leonardo’s counterculture father you might not know.
1. George was an underground comic book writer and distributor
Unlike most fathers trying to get their sons into comics, George didn’t expose his son to mainstream comics like Marvel and DC Comics.
“At a young age, I was exposed to, like, the most hardcore hippie subculture any young man would be subject to, with the Fabulous Freak Brothers, Zap and Weirdo comics,” Leonardo told USA Weekend in 2010.
Leonardo used to accompany his father to comic book stores around town, and George would introduce him to artist have friends like Robert Williams, R. Crumb, and Harvey Pekar when he had them over for parties. His father was behind two issues of Greaser and was the publisher of the Yama Yama/The Ugly Head.
2. George took his son to counterculture concerts
Liberal counterculture events were a normal part of Leonardo’s childhood. Every few months, he and his father would attend “some hippie doo-dah parade” where they would cover themselves up in mud, he said in a 2004 interview with Parade magazine.
In fact, one of his earliest performance memories is from one of these parades they used to attend.
“The earliest memory I have is me at some hippie concert with my dad and the band hadn’t come on,” he once told Rolling Stone. “There was an audience of hundreds of people chanting for the band, and my dad scooted me on stage–I don’t know how old I was, probably three or so–and I got up there and tap danced for hundreds of people.”
3. He was close to “the most dangerous man in America”
According to a Rolling Stone profile, George became friends with Timothy Leary, who President Nixon once called “the most dangerous man in America” because he was a proponent of hallucinogenic drugs. George worked on the script of Leary’s 1979 comic book Neurocomics.
Leary also presided over George’s wedding to his second wife, Peggy Farrar.
4. He exposed his son to great movies from an early age.
By time Leonardo worked with Robert De Niro on This Boy’s Life in 1993, he was already familiar with De Niro’s work thanks to his father.
When Leonardo was nine, George took him to see Midnight Run, where he told Leonardo “This is a great actor”. He also introduced him to Taxi Driver when he was 13.
5. He isn’t afraid to offer Leo career advice.
George used to screen scripts for his son, helping him decide which ones were worth pursuing. If it weren’t for George, Leonardo probably wouldn’t have starred in Total Eclipse.
“I had passed on a script about the French poet Arthur Rimbaud,” Leonardo explained to GQ. “He [George] explained to me that Rimbaud was the James Dean of his time– a radical who took on the institution of poetry and turned it upside down. I did the movie, and I loved playing him.”