Leonardo DiCaprio is only 38 years old. You probably know that already, but it’s still a fact that continues to astound me (considering just how much he’s already accomplished in his screen career), and it’s one that’s worth keeping in mind while reacting to the following piece of information. In an interview with a German media outlet, DiCaprio expressed the exhaustion that’s piled up for him over the past couple of years, which has not only included daring work on the acclaimed Django Unchained (for which he received a Golden Globe nomination) but also demanding leadings roles in two of 2013’s most hotly-anticipated releases: Baz Luhrmann‘s The Great Gatsby and Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street.

“I am a bit drained,” DiCaprio admitted. “I’m now going to take a long, long break. I’ve done three films in two years and I’m just worn out.” He did extrapolate a bit, citing his environmental work as another weighty factor in the decision: “I would like to improve the world a bit. I will fly around the world doing good for the environment.” [ABS-CBN News]

To be honest, this all sounds perfectly reasonable to me, even if it is a revelation that will likely upset a rather large number of people. There is, of course, the obvious, immediate disappointment factor in briefly losing someone as vital as DiCaprio — who, to my mind, is one of the most scrupulous movie stars in Hollywood, consistently choosing vehicles of remarkable quality for over a decade. And, as Django so aggressively displayed, he has shown a growing willingness not to pigeonhole himself, despite what his recurring Scorsese partnership might suggest from a distance. In short, DiCaprio simply sets the standard for what he does, plain and simple.

Which brings me back to my first point: The guy’s only 38. What a tremendous stamp he’s put on this industry, both critically (several factions even think he’s still underrated) and commercially, and he hasn’t even reached 40 yet. He’s as deserving of some time off as anyone else I can think of — and let’s not forget that he’ll likely be filling out a good amount of his newfound free-time championing worthy public causes. In fact, the more I consider this statement from DiCaprio, the more my respect for him just grows all the more.

What’s your gut-instinct reaction to this surprise announcement?

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