Titanic Director James Cameron Reveals Leonardo DiCaprio Almost Didn’t Get The Role Of Jack Dawson

Titanic director James Cameron reveals Leonardo DiCaprio almost didn’t get the role of Jack Dawson
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Titanic director James Cameron has revealed that Leonardo DiCaprio almost didn’t get his iconic role in the film because of his attitude.

According to Cameron, he almost shook a 21-year-old DiCaprio’s hand and saw him on his way after the actor refused to do a reading for him during auditions.

In a new interview with GQCameron recalled, “I said [to DiCaprio]’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?’”

Watch Cameron’s interview above.

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Titanic director James Cameron reveals why Leonardo DiCaprio almost didn't get the part as Jack Dawson.
Titanic director James Cameron reveals why Leonardo DiCaprio almost didn’t get the part as Jack Dawson. (YouTube / GQ)

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“He said, ‘Oh, I don’t read.’ I shook his hand and said, ‘Thanks for coming by.’ And he said, ‘Wait, wait, wait. If I don’t read, I don’t get the part? Just like that?’”

In response, Cameron said he was quite firm with the actor.

“I said, ‘Oh, yeah. Come on. This is a giant movie that is going to take two years of my life, and you’ll be gone doing five other things while I’m doing post-production.

“So, 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.’”

Titanic
According to Cameron, DiCaprio wasn’t happy with the idea that he had to read as well to land his iconic part. (20th Century Fox)

After that, DiCaprio was huffy, and apparently very “negative” leading up to having to read with co-star Kate Winslet.

“He comes in… and every ounce of his entire being is just so negative – right up until I said, ‘Action.’ Then he turned into Jack,” the director marvelled.

“Kate just lit up, and they 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.’”

Titanic director James Cameron imitates how a 21-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio huffed and carried on during his Titanic audition.
Cameron imitated how a 21-year-old DiCaprio huffed and carried on during his Titanic audition. (YouTube / GQ)

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The read ended up turning into a magical moment, until DiCaprio hit Cameron with something else.

“Leonardo comes back in, and he says ‘My dad and I have been talking abut the script, and we were thinking it could have this and this and this’.”

“He wanted [the role] to have some affliction, or some problem, or some traumatic thing from the past,” Cameron explained.

When DiCaprio finished, Cameron decided to hit him with some advice.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson in Titanic (1997)
After some words from Cameron, the director says everything “clicked” for the actor. (Paramount Pictures)

“I said, ‘You gotta learn how to hold the centre and not have all that stuff, this isn’t Richard III.

“‘When you can do what Jimmy Stewart did, or Gregory Peck did – they just f–king stood there, they didn’t have a limp or a lisp – then you’ll be ready for this, but I’m thinking you’re not ready.”

When Cameron explained that to DiCaprio, everything “clicked” for him.

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