Leonardo DiCaprio nearly made a titanic mistake.
Director James Cameron in a new video interview with GQ shared how the then-21-year-old actor nearly lost the role of Jack Dawson in 1997′s “Titanic,” the part that skyrocketed him to international fame.
After having “charmed everybody” during his initial meeting with Cameron — and “all the women in our entire office,” the director recalled — DiCaprio was asked to come in for a screen test opposite Kate Winslet, who co-starred as Rose DeWitt Bukater.
But DiCaprio told Cameron he doesn’t read for parts — a deal breaker for the “giant movie,” which ended up with 11 Academy Awards and was Hollywood’s all-time box office champ for more than a decade until Cameron’s “Avatar” in 2009.
After being given an ultimatum, DiCaprio agreed to read and “turned into Jack” during the screen test, said Cameron.
“I’m like, ‘Alright, he’s the guy,’” said Cameron, noting that DiCaprio nearly lost the part again when he suggested Jack have “some affliction or some problem or some traumatic thing from the past.”
Viewing those as “props” and “crutches,” Cameron told DiCaprio he probably was “not quite ready” to take on the role.
“I said, ‘You gotta learn how to hold the center and not have all that stuff. This isn’t Richard III. When you can do what you know Jimmy Stewart did or Gregory Peck did, they just f–kin’ stood there, they didn’t have a limp or a lisp or whatever, then you’ll be ready for this,’” Cameron said.
“You want the actor to … be in your movie, you want them to say yes, so you make it all sound attractive. But he didn’t want something that was easy.”