On Thursday 16 February 2023, an anonymous source “close” to Titanic actor and renowned heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio, told the Daily Mail that he’s currently single, looking for something “more mature,” and wants to “ditch” his current image. According to the tabloid, the 48-year-old had shared with the alleged source that he had enough of people suggesting that he is always seeking out very young women.
“He is looking for something more mature in the relationship department. It is just ridiculous because he cannot go anywhere without being linked to the youngest beautiful woman there. He wants to ditch this image once and for all and he is really bothered that this continues to follow him,” the anonymous tipper told the Daily Mail.
Whether or not these claims surrounding DiCaprio’s feelings about his infamous dating history and who he plans on being linked to next are true, this latest update in the constant whirlwind that is the actor’s love life has surprised more than one to say the least.
If you’re not sure what I’m getting at here and have somehow been living under a rock for all these years, let me catch you up. Rumour has it that the actor simply never dates women aged 27 or older—or at least that was the claim most netizens believed up until DiCaprio reportedly started dating 27-year-old model Gigi Hadid following his recent breakup with long-term girlfriend Camila Morrone just months after she turned 25.
DiCaprio’s potential redeeming through his association with Hadid was short-lived however, because he was soon spotted out and about with 19-year-old Eden Polani. For a number of years now, a graph that demonstrates the ages of the actor’s previous girlfriends has been circulating online.
Aside from Morrone, he dated Bar Refaeli until 2010, the year she turned 25. DiCaprio also briefly dated Kelly Rohrbach in 2015, the year she turned 25, and then Nina Agdal from 2016 until 2017—also the year she celebrated her 25th birthday. You get the gist.
All that being said, no one has been able to explain (even as a theory) exactly why we’ve been seeing this pattern in the 90s icon’s choice in partners. Well, up until now, that is…
Introducing TikToker @Shani.Alexis (real name Shani Belshaw) who, since posting a video explaining her very own theory as to why DiCaprio can’t date anyone over 27, has gone viral on the app. According to the journalism student, “maybe Leonardo DiCaprio is kind of messed up in the head, especially when it comes to his sexual partners and who he’s attracted to” because of his past relationship as a teenager with actor and producer Brian Peck, who was convicted of a lewd act against a child and oral copulation of a person under 16 in 2004.
According to the Daily Mail—yep, them again—and as mentioned in Belshaw’s video, Peck is a convicted child sex offender “who used his movie industry role to abuse a Nickelodeon star, and who astonishingly is not banned from working with children.”
In court documents obtained by the British tabloid, the victim is only named as John Doe to protect his identity. Peck had allegedly been coaching the victim in acting at his home when the offences happened and was only arrested after the budding actor’s parents reported him to police.
The documents show Peck was originally charged with 11 counts including: lewd act upon a child, sodomy of a person under 16, attempted sodomy of a person under 16, sexual penetration by foreign object, four counts of oral copulation of a person under 16, oral copulation by anaesthesia or controlled substance, sending harmful matter, and using a minor for sex acts.
Peck pleaded ‘no contest’ to two counts (lewd act against a child and oral copulation) and the court found him guilty of both. The remaining counts were dismissed. Peck is now reportedly back working in the movie industry.
Belshaw uses this information in her own theory about DiCaprio’s relationship with the producer, who he worked with on the American television sitcom Growing Pains in which the young actor joined the seventh and final season (from 1991 to 1992) to play a homeless teen named Luke Brower.
In some behind-the-scenes footage from the show which first made waves online back in 2014 when it was featured in An Open Secret, Amy J. Berg’s documentary film exposing child sexual abuse in the film industry in California, DiCaprio can be seen joking around with Peck as the latter describes him as “the latest, hottest, hunkiest teen idol there is.”
Though Belshaw doesn’t explicitly say it in the clip which has since gone viral on TikTok, she seems to suggest that DiCaprio’s current affinity for younger women might be a sign of him being a victim of child abuse at the hands of Peck. “This is opinion, not fact,” the content creator goes on to state in the video.
I, as much as any young zillenial, love my 2000s shows. From fashion inspo in That’s So Raven and endless shower concerts with Hannah Montana to the knowledge that it’s okay to speak to myself everyday from Lizzie McGuire, I was truly in my pop culture lane as a kid. One show that stands out in particular, among the girl-centric catalogue that Disney especially built up for the little tween me, was The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and its two twin stars in the making: Dylan and Cole Sprouse. The sitcom rocked my world, making me dead set on wanting to spend my life in a hotel forever—playing around with bellhops and teasing a manager long enough for them to shout the famous phrase “no running in my lobby.”
Recently, however, it has come to light that the film industry leaves no prisoners—even child actors as young as 11 apparently—as Cole Sprouse (the twin whose secondary Instagram snaps strangers who sneakily try to get a shot of him) has spoken out about the heavy crown child stars bear from a young age on the silver screen. You may also know Sprouse if you’re a Friends fanatic, as he played Ross’ son on the show, but he actually got his big break alongside Adam Sandler and his brother Dylan in Big Daddy.
In a recent interview with The New York Times (NYT) on Monday 4 April, aptly titled Cole Sprouse on Finding a Healthy Balance in Hollywood, the now 29-year-old Riverdale star opened up about the “toll that fame takes” and the immense trauma child stars undergo upon reflection. Sprouse also shed light on his journey from his days as a tiny tot in the three-season run of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, aged 11, and his career post playing the brainiac brother.
Munching on a chicken wrap and puffing on a vape pen, Sprouse “spoke about billionaires, the effects of childhood fame and turning 30.” Reflecting on the celebrity, the NYT article covered Sprouse’s highs and lows as a junior in Hollywood, and how “by age 18, [both he and his brother were] effectively burned out.”
After his time at New York University, and a swanking degree in archaeology, Sprouse was ready to call it quits on showbiz. It was by chance that the promise he made to his manager “to give one more round of TV auditions a go before quitting the industry for good,” landed Sprouse back in the belly of the beast—as Jughead Jones on everyone’s favourite, artistically-excellent and revered CW show Riverdale. Once he booked the role as the “brooding outcast,” he was promptly “sucked in again,” the article mentioned.
“I started acting when I was so young that I hadn’t actually attempted, as an adult, to think about if I really enjoyed performance,” Sprouse shared.
However, his experiences could not compare to that of young female stars at Disney Channel. Unfortunately, the brunted burden fell on the shoulders of his female counterparts and co-stars who were “heavily sexualised” from an earlier age than he and his brother by the network. “When we talk about child stars going nuts, what we’re not actually talking about is how fame is a trauma,” Sprouse continued.
“I’m violently defensive against people who mock some of the young women who were on [Disney Channel] when I was younger because I don’t feel like it adequately comprehends the humanity of that experience and what it takes to recover,” the actor said.
On the verge of turning 30, Sprouse shared, “I feel like my ducks are in a row better than they’ve ever been.” While we live in the era of reboots, the actor doesn’t think he’ll go back to his hotel escapade days again. “I don’t think I’ll ever return to [The Suite Life of Zack & Cody].” Divulging on the reasons behind his decision, he said “I’m just a big believer that if something is beautiful in the past, you should let it stay beautiful. To bring it into the future feels a bit like reheating a really good, fresh meal in the microwave.” All in favour, say ‘Aye’.
Luckily enough for Sprouse—and the rest of us—he cut the cord on some fans’ hopes of seeing him as a 30-year-old actor in their favourite high school shows. “And, I hate to break it to everybody, I’m not the only 30-year-old playing a teen on television,” he concluded. Sprouse recently appeared in HBO Max’s sci-fi romance film Moonshot, alongside Lana Condor and Emily Rudd in March 2022.