James Cameron shares some surprising details from the making of his blockbuster Titanic, which celebrates 25 years since its release next month.
In a new video interview with GQthe iconic director revealed that he almost didn’t end up choosing Leonardo DiCaprio or Kate Winslet – whose romance starred whose careers as iconic movie stars were bolstered by the Oscar-winning landmark film.
While considering actors to play his star-crossed lovers on the doomed ocean liner, Cameron explained that he had initially had someone like Gwyneth Paltrow in mind for Rose, and that while Winslet had been suggested as an option, he feared she was. Lots of dress-up.
“I actually didn’t see Kate at first,” he said in the video. “She’s done a number of other historical dramas as well, and she’s developed a reputation as ‘Corset Kate’ doing historical stuff.” (True, the Reader’s actress’ three credits before “Titanic” were also costume dramas — “Sense and Sensibility” in 1995, followed by “Jude” and “Hamlet” one year later.)
Cameron went on to say that he was afraid that putting Winslet in the role would “look like the laziest in the world”, but nonetheless agreed to meet her in the end. Of course, he thought she was “cool,” and the rest is history.
Meanwhile, there were some initial hiccups with DiCaprio.
After an initial “hysterical” meeting with the Heartthrob actor, in which all the women in the production office somehow ended up in the boardroom along with Cameron, DiCaprio was invited back to do a screen test with Winslet, who by that point had already been cast. .
But when the “Romeo + Juliet” star showed up, he was surprised to learn that he’d have to read the lines and be photographed alongside Winslet to gauge their chemistry on camera.
Cameron described “He came over, thought it was another meeting to meet Kate”.
He remembered telling the pair, “We’re going to run a few lines, and I’m going to shoot them.”
But then DiCaprio — who helmed several films and received an Academy Award nomination for 1993’s “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” — tells Cameron, “You mean I read? … I don’t read,” implying that he no longer submits to having to. To audition for movie roles.
Without missing a beat, Cameron reached out to the star and told him, “Well, thanks for coming.”
The director then explained to DiCaprio the enormity of the project before them, how the film was going to take two years of his life, and how he “wouldn’t do it by making the wrong casting decision.”
Cameron said he told the young actor, “Then you read or you don’t get the part.”
DiCaprio reluctantly submitted to his credit.
Cameron recalled how the actor “lit up” and “became Jack”, creating an electric chemistry with Winslet that is later clearly seen in the movie itself.
“Titanic” sailed into theaters on December 19, 1997 and eventually won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Director for Cameron.