Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet almost didn’t to star in ‘Titanic’
James Cameron shares some surprising details from the making of his blockbuster “Titanic,” which turns 25 next month.
In a new video interview with GKrevealed the iconic director that he almost didn’t cast Leonardo DiCaprio or Kate Winslet – his two romantic leads whose careers as major Hollywood movie stars were boosted by the landmark Oscar-winning film.
While considering actors to play the roles of his star-crossed lovers on the doomed ocean liner, Cameron explained that he was initially thinking of someone like Gwyneth Paltrow for Rose, and that although Winslet had been suggested as an option, he feared she would used to be. too much typecast.
“I didn’t see Kate at first,” he said in the video. “She’d done a few other period dramas as well, and she got a reputation as ‘Corset Kate’ doing period stuff.” (It’s true that the actress’s three “The Reader” credits prior to “Titanic” were also period costume dramas — “Sense and Sensibility” in 1995, followed by “Jude” and “Hamlet” a year later.)
Cameron went on to say that he was worried Winslet in the part would “look like the laziest casting in the world”, but agreed to meet her eventually anyway. Of course he thought she was “fantastic” and the rest is history.
With DiCaprio, meanwhile, there were some initial hiccups.
After an initial “hysterical” encounter with the gut-wrenching actor, in which all the women in the production office somehow ended up in the conference room next to Cameron, DiCaprio was invited back for a screen test with Winslet, who had already been cast at the time. .
But when the ‘Romeo + Juliet’ star walked in, he was surprised to learn that he had to read lines and be filmed next to Winslet to gauge their chemistry on camera.
“He came in, he thought it was another meeting to meet Kate,” Cameron described.
He recalled telling the pair, “We’ll just go over some lines and I’ll videotape it.”
But then DiCaprio — who by then had directed several films and scored an Oscar nomination for 1993’s “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” — told Cameron, “You mean I’m reading? … I’m not reading” , meaning he didn’t have to audition for movie roles.
Without missing a beat, Cameron reached out to the star and told him, “Well, thanks for stopping by.”
The director then explained to DiCaprio the enormity of the project ahead of them, how the film was going to take two years off his life, and how he “wasn’t going to screw it up by making the wrong casting decision.”
“So you either read or you don’t get the part,” Cameron told the young actor.
DiCaprio reluctantly surrendered, to his credit.
Cameron recalled how the actor “lighted up” and “became Jack,” creating an electrical chemistry with Winslet that was later evident in the film itself.
“Titanic” sailed into theaters on December 19, 1997, eventually winning 11 Academy Awards, including Best Director for Cameron.