Leonardo DiCaprio almost lost ‘Titanic’ role

James Cameron almost didn’t cast Leonardo DiCaprio to play Jack Dawson in “Titanic,” claiming the actor showed up to the audition with a diva-like attitude.

The film’s director recalled meeting with DiCaprio ahead of the record-breaking 1997 flick in an interview with GQ published Tuesday, noting that Kate Winslet had already been cast to star as Rose DeWitt Bukater.

“So Leo came in — of course, charmed everybody, myself included,” Cameron, 68, explained. “And I said, ‘Alright, let’s see what your chemistry’s like with Kate.’”

According to the filmmaker, DiCaprio — who was 22 when the movie hit theaters — thought that meant “another meeting to meet Kate.” But in fact, Cameron had called him in to record the two reading lines together.

TITANIC, Leonardo DiCaprio, 1997. TM & Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./C

Cameron claimed the actor showed up with a diva-like attitude and refused to read lines with co-star Kate Winslet.

©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett C

TITANIC, from left: Leonardo DiCaprio, Danny Nucci, 1997. TM & Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp

Cameron claimed the actor showed up with a diva-like attitude and refused to read lines with co-star Kate Winslet.

©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett C

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“And he said, ‘You mean I’m reading?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Oh, I don’t read,’” Cameron claimed, adding that his response was to shake the now 41-year-old actor’s hand and thank him “for coming by.”

“He said, ‘Wait, wait, wait. You mean if I don’t read, I don’t get the part? Just like that?’” the director went on.

“And I said, ‘Oh, yeah. Come on. This is, like, a giant movie that’s gonna take two years of my life … so I’m not gonna f–k it up by making the wrong decision in casting. So you’re gonna read, or you’re not gonna get the part.’”

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“Every ounce of his entire being is just so negative,” Cameron recalled, “right up until I said, ‘Action!'”

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“Every ounce of his entire being is just so negative,” Cameron recalled, “right up until I said, ‘Action!'”

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According to Cameron, DiCaprio huffed and puffed but agreed to read with Winslet — begrudgingly.

“Every ounce of his entire being is just so negative,” the filmmaker recalled, “right up until I said, ‘Action!’”

Cameron said DiCaprio immediately “turned into Jack.”

Kate Winslet, James Cameron and Leonardo DiCaprio
“Titanic” went on to win 11 of the 14 Academy Awards for which it was nominated.
Ron Galella Collection via Getty

“Kate just lit up, and they went into this whole thing, and he played the scene,” he explained. “Dark clouds had opened up, and this ray of sun came down and lit up Jack. I’m like, ‘Alright, he’s the guy.’”

“Titanic” went on to win 11 of the 14 Academy Awards for which it was nominated and secured DiCaprio’s spot as one of the most influential actors of the century.


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