Leonardo DiCaprio almost lost the role of ‘Titanic’, says James Cameron

Leonardo DiCaprio almost lost his role Titanic after refusing to do a screen test with co-star Kate Winslet.

James Cameron, who directed the disastrous 1997 film, recalled in an interview with GQ DiCaprio’s audition for the role of Jack Dawson.

“I remember we had a meeting with Lee and then there was a screen test with Lee,” Cameron said. “So the meeting was funny because I’m sitting in my conference room waiting to meet the actor, right? And I look around and every woman in the entire office is in a meeting for some reason. Like there’s a female executive producer, ok fine. But our accountant? Why was she at the meeting? Everyone just wanted to meet Leo, it was hysterical.’

The director explained that after Leo “charmed everyone” at 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 had the camera set to record the video. He didn’t know he was going to test. He thought it was another meeting with Kate. So I said, ‘Okay, we’ll just go into the next room, do a few lines, and I’ll shoot it.’ And he said, “Do you think I read?” I said, ‘Yeah’. He said, “Oh, I don’t read.”

“And I said, ‘Well,’ and I shook his hand. I said, ‘Well, thanks for coming.’ And he said, ‘Wait, wait, you mean if I don’t read I won’t get the part, just like that?’ And I said, ‘Oh yeah, come on. It’s like a giant movie, it takes two years of my life and you’re off doing five other things while I’m doing post-production. So I won’t screw it up with a bad casting decision. So you read or you don’t get the part.'”

DiCaprio went on to screen test, and although he was initially “negative”, Cameron was impressed by his sudden transformation into Jack.

“So [DiCaprio] he walks in and it’s like every ounce of his whole being is so negative,” Cameron said. “Until I said ‘Action’ and then he turned into Jack. And Kate just lit up and they went all in. The dark clouds parted and a ray of sun set and illuminated Jack.”

Cameron explained that DiCaprio later returned to the director after convincing the studio to take him on, where he suggested making changes to the character of Jack to have “some anguish” or some “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 how to stay centered and not have all of those things. This is not Richard III.’” Cameron recalled.

“When you can do what you know Jimmy Stewart or Gregory Peck did, they were just standing there fucking. They didn’t limp or twitch or whatever, then you’ll be ready for it. But I don’t think you’re ready because what I’m talking about is actually much harder. Those things are easier, they are props, they are crutches. What I’m talking about is much harder, and you’re probably not ready for it yet.”

“The second time I said it worked. [DiCaprio] that it was a really difficult and challenging film for him. And I realized my mistake, I didn’t challenge him enough.”

Cameron is currently promoting Avatar: The Path of Watercontinuation of 2009 Avatar. The film is scheduled to be released on December 16.

Leave a Comment