Leonardo DiCaprio’s role as Jack in Titanic is one of the most iconic roles of his entire career and propelled him into international fame. However, it has been revealed that he almost lost the role because of his attitude.
During an interview, Titanic director, James Cameron, opened up on how DiCaprio almost wasn’t Jack in the Titanic. DiCaprio had already attained a high level of fame at a very young age for his previous work when Cameron invited him to participate in the audition process for Titanic.
The process started well with DiCaprio meeting with and “charming” Cameron and everyone else in the studio. However, things started to go awry when Cameron asked DiCaprio to do a reading with Kate Winslet to gauge their chemistry.
DiCaprio wasn’t happy when he learned he was supposed to do a reading with Winslet, likely because he was such a sought-after actor that he could forego audition processes.
He thought that he was merely going to meet Winslet, similar to how he met with Cameron. When he learned he was supposed to read, the young star responded, “Oh, I don’t read.”
Despite DiCaprio’s stardom, Cameron wasn’t going to put up with attitude or allow him to simply not read.
How Leonardo DiCaprio auditioned for Titanic
Cameron revealed to GQ that when DiCaprio announced that he didn’t read, he shook his hand and prepared to show him to the door. At this, DiCaprio was taken aback, shocked that if he didn’t read, he wouldn’t get the part.
However, Cameron stuck to his initial request. He explained to DiCaprio that Titanic was a huge film that he was putting two years of his life into.
He wasn’t going to risk casting the wrong male lead just because DiCaprio didn’t read. Hence, he gave DiCaprio an ultimatum – he either read or he wouldn’t get the part.
DiCaprio then agreed to the reading, though he still held onto the attitude for a bit longer. According to Cameron, he dragged his feet and showed up to the audition dripping with as much negativity as he could muster.
However, as soon as Cameron said, “Action,” a switch flipped in DiCaprio, and he instantly became Jack. Winslet responded to him well, and the two displayed amazing chemistry.
As soon as he saw that, Cameron knew that DiCaprio was, indeed, Titanic’s Jack.
DiCaprio also wanted to change Titanic script
Cameron revealed in the same interview that DiCaprio had also wanted to change the film’s script. Shortly after he was officially cast as Jack, he came to Cameron with some ideas in mind.
He explained to Cameron that he wanted Jack to have some kind of “affliction.” This was because his prior characters, such as in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and The Basketball Diaries, were afflicted with some problem, whether it be a developmental disorder or addiction.
Cameron explained to DiCaprio that he needed to learn to portray an intriguing character without having some problem or extenuating circumstances. However, his rejection may have helped DiCaprio’s career in the long run.
DiCaprio finally realized at that point that the role of Jack was more challenging than any role he had done before. Meanwhile, he realized that he liked the challenge.
Cameron suggested this is why he has gone on to pursue extremely challenging roles such as The Revenant and The Wolf of Wall Street.
Titanic solidified DiCaprio’s status as an international star, and based on Cameron’s discussion, it seems it challenged him in ways he hadn’t been challenged before.