Leonardo DiCaprio was Nearly Passed Over for ‘Titanic’

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James Cameron recalled a moment that nearly soured him on DiCaprio.

This December will mark the 25th anniversary of James Cameron’s Titanic, one of the most famous and influential films ever made. A large portion of its enduring appeal and success lay with its leads, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, whose legendary on-screen chemistry launched them into movie superstardom. However, according to Cameron, that casting almost didn’t happen.

In an interview with GQ ahead of the anniversary, Cameron reminisced on the production of Titanic, recalling a moment that nearly soured him on the idea of casting DiCaprio in the lead role. DiCaprio was invited to the set to perform a screen test with Winslet in order to determine whether or not they’d be a good fit for the romantic roles.

“He came in, he thought it was another meeting to meet Kate,” Cameron described. “We’ll just run some lines, and I’ll video it.”

DiCaprio was reluctant, however. “You mean I’m reading?…I don’t read,” he said, assuming that he was not required to actually audition for the part.

Cameron immediately told him “thanks for coming by” and started to get up to leave. Cameron stressed to him that Titanic was going to be one of the biggest productions of his entire career, and that he was “not going to f— it up by making the wrong decision in casting.”

“So you’re going to read or you’re not going to get the part,” Cameron said he told DiCaprio.

Thankfully, DiCaprio backed down and submitted to the screen test, at which point he demonstrated a fantastic affinity for the role and excellent chemistry with Winslet.

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