James Cameron is a sucker for grand and bold movies, and that was especially seen with the release of Titanic in 1997. Assuming that everyone has watched the billion-dollar-grossing movie would be a pretty safe bet because, after all, it was the highest-grossing movie of its time (and ironically was overtaken by another Cameron masterpiece – Avatar).
Perhaps the real highlight of the movie would be the brilliant performance put in by a young Leonardo DiCaprio alongside his co-star Kate Winslet. The chemistry and romance between these two actors onscreen was unmatched. But did you know that the former was almost never going to be in it? Cameron had another popular movie star lined up to play the lead role of Jack too!
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Spot In Titanic Was In Danger
When you get almost $200 million to direct a movie that would overtake the budget, you ought to make sure you have the best people on the job. James Cameron, being the cutthroat perfectionist he is, wanted to make sure the cast he selected were really into playing the roles they would be assigned.
As history tells us, he made all the right choices for Titanic, especially in the casting section for the lead role of Jack Dawson. Leonardo DiCaprio was offered to Cameron by casting director Mali Finn, who Cameron says didn’t want the role at all.
During a recent interview at the Golden Globes 2023, the Avatar: The Way of Water director gave some more information on how he cast DiCaprio as Jack Dawson-
“He didn’t want to do a leading man. I had to really twist his arm to be in the movie. He didn’t want to do it. He thought it was boring.”
The What’s Eating Gilbert Grape star then “accepted the part” after some time, says Cameron, further adding he had to convince him that “it was actually a difficult challenge.”-
“It didn’t surprise me, first of all, that he’s made a lot of authentic choices going forward. And secondly, I never doubted his talent.”
Guess you could say the Alien director has a knack for spotting amazing actors. Of course, if DiCaprio didn’t want to be in Titanic, then there was no shortage of world-class actors to choose from for the 68-year-old visionary.
In fact, Johnny Depp, who was and is still a popular movie star, was in the race for the role of Jack Dawson among many other actors like Matthew McConaughey. Sadly, he turned it down due to a 180-page long script, as he revealed to Howard Stern back in 2001.
Titanic Wouldn’t Be The Same Without Its Two Lead Stars, Says James Cameron
Even the most well-coordinated and skilled actors can help save a movie from its negatives. However, James Cameron had it all figured out with Titanic, and he says the only danger to the movie’s brilliance was if the two lead stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, weren’t in the movie.
During the very same interview, the True Lies director emphasized DiCaprio’s initial refusal to play Jack, which would have been detrimental overall. He said-
“I think about that casting Leonardo and Kate in Titanic. Leo, the studio didn’t want him; I had to fight for him. Kate really liked him and then Leonardo decided he didn’t want to make the movie. So then I had to talk him into it.”
The visionary director then goes on to add-
“You think at any one of those places, if that had really kind of frayed apart, it would have been somebody else and it wouldn’t have been that film. I can’t imagine that film without him and without her.”
Leonardo DiCaprio would 100% not regret having gone against what his heart or mind said to him at the time, because Titanic‘s success had launched the then 20-year-old rising actor into stardom!
Titanic is currently available for streaming on Disney+.