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Leonardo DiCaprio, Parade

John Russo

Leonardo DiCaprio is not interested in fame for fame's sake.

But it's something he's learned to live with over the course of his four decades in Hollywood. "If I wanted to quit acting, I could have done it a long time ago. I love making movies. I feel lucky and fortunate to do it, and it is absolutely worth sacrificing a lot of my private life. I don't think anyone [famous] ever really gets used to it. It's always surreal," he says in Parade's Jan. 10 issue. "At the end of the day, there are people with much harder jobs who sacrifice a lot more of their own lives to do them, people in the armed forces. I don't want to hear myself complain about the hardships of being famous—because I do have the freedom to stop, if I wanted to."

DiCaprio, who earned raves for his role in The Revenant, recently broke up with Baywatch star Kelly Rohrbach. Though he's currently single, the famous bachelor isn't opposed to the idea of settling down and getting married. "That time will come when that time comes," he says. "The truth is, you can't predict marriage. You can't plan it. It's just going to happen when it happens."

For now, though, DiCaprio is focused on his career.

Tom Hardy, Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Kimberley French/Twentieth Century Fox

As a kid, however, he was torn between becoming a marine biologist or an actor. "Very early on I was always impersonating different characters, imitating people who came by. I loved doing that and getting the amazing experience of seeing people's reactions," the actor says. "You see your parents laughing. It's a communal family experience, and you share that love, you know?"

"Acting always represented a way out for me. I saw many things in the neighborhoods where I grew up that were pretty terrifying. Acting takes you away from reality. Being able to escape was important," the actor, 41, continues. "Movies do that for me. Two hours inside of a theater can transport you into a completely other universe. To me, that's the beauty of movies."

Suffice to say, DiCaprio has no regrets about choosing acting over marine biology. "Life can get pretty monotonous. Acting is like living multiple lives. When you make a movie, you go off to different places, live different cultures, investigate somebody else's reality, and you try to manifest that to the best of your ability. It is incredibly eye-opening. That's why I love acting," the Golden Globe nominee explains. "There's nothing as transformative as what a film, a documentary, can do to get people to care about something else besides their own lives."

DiCaprio is happier than he's ever been. "My dad always told me, 'Go out there, son, and whatever you do, I don't care if you're successful or not, just have an interesting life. Just be happy to put your pants on in the morning,'" the actor tells Parade. "I believe I'm doing that."