James Cameron’s epic romance/drama came out more than 20 years ago, and yet the hold Titanic has on its audience? Absolutely unrelenting.
Rose and Jack’s epic love made thousands weep uncontrollably and is guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes even if you put the film on today. But it wasn’t simply the chemistry they depicted on screen, it was also majorly because of the charm that Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio held in real life. And that was the very reason why James Cameron was able to pick his star cast without hesitation, with complete faith that both actors would do justice to their respective characters.
In fact, the Canadian filmmaker was actually so impressed with The Revenant actor, that he immediately decided to cast him in Titanic right after his very first screen test. Not all that shocking, given Leo’s incredible acting skills and his ever-present charisma.
See also: “This is going to be the laziest casting of the world”: James Cameron Initially Wanted Gwyneth Paltrow For Titanic Instead of Kate Winslet Because He Found Her Extremely Boring, Called Her ‘Corset Kate’
James Cameron talks about Leonardo DiCaprio and his charm
Talking to GQ, Avatar director James Cameron recalled his experience while filming one of his highest-grossing movies of all time, Titanic, and how he came to pick his star cast.
After casting Kate Winslet for the role of Rose DeWitt Bukater, Cameron went forward with giving Leonardo DiCaprio a shot for playing the character of the young artist, Jack Dawson, and claimed that he instantly took a penchant for him, besides all the women in the office, of course, who were literally swooning over him. The Aliens director vividly remembers how at the time of his meeting with DiCaprio, the female staff at the office had gathered around the conference room, all waiting impatiently for the Shutter Island star to grace their presence.
“I remember there was a meeting with Leo, and then there was a screen test with Leo. So the meeting was funny, ’cause I’m sitting in my conference room, waiting to meet an actor, right? And I look around and all the women in the entire office area are in the meeting for some reason. Like there’s a female executive producer, okay, fine. But our accountant? Why was she in the meeting? They just all wanted to meet Leo, it was hysterical. I looked around and I went, ‘I think I already know the answer to the question here.'”
Even Cameron understands what all the hype is about as he admitted that the Oscar-winning actor had managed to charm him as well.
James Cameron Knew Leonardo DiCaprio Was the Perfect Fit to Play Jack Dawson
Following his meeting with The Terminator director, DiCaprio was just one screen test away from solidifying his role as Jack Dawson in Titanic. But he was under the impression that Cameron had organized yet another meeting, this time with his co-star, Winslet, the plot twist being that DiCaprio didn’t actually know he was going in for a screen test that day. And yet, he bagged the role without any impediments whatsoever.
“So, Leo came in, of course, charmed everybody, myself included, and I said, ‘All right, well, let’s see what your chemistry is like with Kate. So he comes in a couple days later and I’ve got the camera set up to record the video. He didn’t know he was gonna test. He came in, he thought it was another meeting to meet Kate.”
When Cameron asked the Inception actor to “run some lines” and enact a scene from the script, the latter refused at first, claiming that he “doesn’t read,” something which was a dealbreaker for The Abyss filmmaker because he wanted to be utterly sure that he wasn’t making a mistake of any kind. So DiCaprio finally acquiesced, almost begrudgingly, thereby coming off as “negative” to Cameron. But everything changed the moment the latter said “Action,” and Cameron immediately realized how he’d made the best choice by deciding to cast The Great Gatsby star.
“So he comes in and he’s like, every ounce of his entire being is just so negative, right up until I said ‘Action,’ and then he turned into Jack. And Kate just lit up and they went into this whole thing and he played the scene. Dark clouds had opened up and a ray of sun came down and lit up Jack. I’m like, ‘All right, he’s the guy.'”
And voila, we got one of the most beautifully heartbreaking movies to ever have existed in cinema history.