James Cameron has revealed that Leonardo DiCaprio was almost not cast in Titanic after he initially refused to audition.
In 1997, Titanic was released and it eventually became the highest-grossing movie of all time up until that point before being surpassed by another Cameron project, Avatar.
Key to the success of the movie was the chemistry between DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, who played characters who fell in love while the sinking of the ship took place around them.
But, we came very close to not seeing that particular duo on screen. After an initial meeting with Cameron, DiCaprio returned for another thinking he would be introduced to Winslet informally, but it turns out it was an audition, and he wasn't happy.
"He thought it was another meeting to meet Kate," Cameron told GQ.
"So I said, 'Okay, we'll just go in the next room, and we'll run some lines and I'll video it.' And he said, 'You mean, I'm reading?' I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Oh, I don't read.' I shook his hand and said, 'Well, thanks for coming by'.
"And he said, 'Wait, wait, wait. You mean, if I don't read, I don't get the part? Just like that?' And I said, 'Oh, yeah. Come on.
"This is a giant movie that is going to take two years of my life... I'm not going to f**k it up by making the wrong decision in casting. So, you're going to read, or you're not going to get the part.'"
DiCaprio changed when the cameras rolled
According to Cameron, DiCaprio cut a frustrated figure until the cameras started rolling, and right there and then, the director knew he had found his leading man.
"Every ounce of his entire being is just so negative - right up until I said, 'Action.' Then he turned into Jack," the Terminator and Aliens director recalled.
"Kate just lit up... 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.'"
Drama / Romance
1997 • 194 minutes