HomeEntertainmentLeonardo DiCaprio almost lost the ‘Titanic’ role, says James Cameron
Leonardo DiCaprio almost lost the ‘Titanic’ role, says James Cameron
November 25, 2022
Leonardo DiCaprio almost missed out on his role in Titanic after he refused to do a screen test with co-star Kate Winslet.
James Cameron, who directed the 1997 disaster film, recalled in an interview with GQ DiCaprio’s audition for the role of Jack Dawson.
“I remember there was a meeting with Leo and then there was a screen test with Leo,” Cameron said. “So the meeting was fun because I’m sitting in my meeting room waiting to meet an actor, right? And I look around and all the women in the whole office are in the meeting for some reason. Like there was a female executive producer, okay. But our accountant? Why was she in the meeting? They all just wanted to meet Leo, it was hysterical.”
The director explained that after Leo “charred everyone” in the meeting, he was asked back for a screen test with Winslet, who played Rose.
Cameron added: “So he came back a few days later and I got the camera set up to shoot the video. He didn’t know he was going to test. He thought it was another meeting to meet Kate. So I said, ‘ Ok, we’ll just go into the next room and we’ll run some lines and I’ll video it.’ And he said, ‘You mean I read?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Oh, I don’t read.’
“And I said, ‘Well,’ and I shook his hand. I said, ‘Well, thanks for coming by.’ And he said, ‘Wait, wait, wait, you mean if I don’t read, I just don’t understand the part?’ And I said, ‘Oh yeah, come on. This is like a huge movie, it’s going to take two years of my life, and you’re going to be off doing five other things while I’m doing post-production. So I don’t want to screw it up by making the wrong decision in the casting. So you’re going to read or you won’t get the part.”
DiCaprio went ahead with the screen test, and despite being “negative” at first, Cameron was impressed by his sudden transformation into Jack.
“So [DiCaprio] comes in and he’s like, every single ounce of his whole being is just so negative,” Cameron said. “Right up until I said ‘Action’ and then he became Jack. And Kate just lit up and they went into it all. Dark clouds had opened and a ray of sunlight came down and lit up Jack.”
Cameron explained that DiCaprio later returned to the director after convincing the studio to take him on, suggesting making changes to Jack’s character so that he had “some disorder” or a “traumatic thing from the past”.
“I said, ‘Look, you’ve done all these great characters who all have a problem, whether it’s addiction or whatever,’ I said, ‘You’ve got to learn to stay centered and not have all that . This is not Richard III,” Cameron recalled.
“‘When you can do what, you know, Jimmy Stewart did or Gregory Peck did, they just stood there. They didn’t have a limp or a lisp or whatever, then you’re ready for this. But I think that you’re not ready, because what I’m talking about is actually much more difficult. Those things are easier, they’re props, they’re crutches. What I’m talking about is much more difficult, and you’re probably not quite ready for it.” .
“The second I said it clicked [DiCaprio] that this was a really tough, challenging film for him. And I realized my mistake, I hadn’t put the challenge to him sufficiently.”
Cameron is currently promoting Avatar: The Way of Waterthe successor to the 2009s Avatar. The film is scheduled to premiere in theaters on December 16.