James Cameron Says That Leonardo DiCaprio Almost Didn’t Get Cast In “Titanic” Because He Didn’t Want To Audition
The timeless tale of a vagabond’s dalliance with a door-hogging socialite, Titanic, marks its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. At this point, anyone who has seen it will never let go of the love they have for Jack and Rose, but according to director James Cameron, Kate and Leow were almost cast aas teary-eyed theatergoers instead of the film’s stars. And in a recent interview with GQ (via CNN), James admits had to be convinced by both Kate and Leo that they were right for the part.
James had high hopes for Titanic, which went on to shatter box office records and introduced the world to a song by powerhouse yodelist Celine Dion, that should be re-titled My CHECKS Will Go On. But the cruise towards slamming Titanic into an iceberg of Oscars and cash ran through some choppy water in the beginning. Starting with James initially wanting to pass on Kate since she was quickly becoming the corset queen of movies:
“I actually didn’t see Kate at first,” he said in the video. “She had done a couple of other historical dramas as well, and she was getting a reputation as ‘Corset Kate’ doing historical stuff.”… Cameron went on to say that he was afraid that putting Winslet in the role “was going to look like the laziest casting in the world,” but that he nonetheless agreed to meet her in the end. Of course, he thought she was “fantastic,” and the rest is history.
Of course, Kate’s performance shot her into superstardom, but that wasn’t an issue for Leo. He had already been nominated for an Oscar and played the title role in Baz Luhrmann’s Shakespearean LSD fever dream Romeo + Juliet so he probably thought he already had the role locked in. Leo came in for an initial meeting where all the women in James’ office flooded the room with panty pudding, but the second meeting was less pleasant when Leo threw on his diva cape and clutched his pearls once he was asked to audition with Kate:
He remembered telling the pair, “We’ll just run some lines, and I’ll video it.”
But then DiCaprio – who by then had led several movies and scored an Oscar nomination for 1993’s “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” – informed Cameron, “You mean I’m reading?…I don’t read,” meaning that he no longer submitted to having to audition for film roles. Without missing a beat, Cameron extended his hand to the star and and told him, “Well, thanks for coming by.”
The director then explained to DiCaprio the enormity of the project before them, how the film was going to take two years out of his life, and how he was “not going to fuck it up by making the wrong decision in casting.”
“So you’re going to read or you’re not going to get the part,” Cameron said he told the young actor.
Luckily Leo checked himself and read, and the rest is history. I’m glad that James got over his apprehension and cast both of them for the roles because, at one point, he was considering Gwyneth Paltrow. And today, the world is filled with relief because the entire movie would have ended when Jack pushed Rose off the Titanic’s masthead, screaming, “You’re REALLY flying now!”
Check Out James’ GQ interview below (the Leo stuff starts at 2:48):