Leonardo DiCaprio’s ego almost cost him the Titanic

In 1997, Leonardo DiCaprio became the king of the world starring in James Cameron’s Titanic-but he hardly ever wore the crown. In a new video interview with GQJames Cameron breaks down some of his most famous films and offers behind-the-scenes stories about the successes, challenges and, yes, prima donnas he’s encountered.

On the subject of his 1997 Oscar-winning box office smash Titanic, James Cameron recalled how he ended up casting both Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in the roles of Rose and Jack. But DiCaprio almost divaed his way out of what would become one of his most important performances of all time.

DiCaprio was, of course, a hit with the ladies – at one meeting various women in the building, from producers to accountants, tried to engage in a casual meeting – but he didn’t get on well with Cameron. When the director told him to do a screen test with Winslet, “He said, ‘Oh, I don’t read.’…I shook his hand, I said, ‘Well, thanks for coming by.'” And that’s when DiCaprio got away with it. “And he said, ‘Wait, wait, wait, you mean if I don’t read, I don’t understand the part, just like that?’ And I said…”This is like a huge movie, it’s going to take two years of my life and you’re going to be gone…so I don’t want to ruin it by making the wrong decision in casting.” So you want to study or you don’t get the part.”

After some huffing and puffing, DiCaprio relented, though just before the cameras rolled, Cameron said: “Every ounce of his entire being [was] just so negative.”

It’s quite strange that DiCaprio would refuse to read for the part. While he had already earned an Oscar nomination for What does Gilbert Grape eat, he was not yet the leading man he would become. And who knows how long it would have taken if Cameron had actually started him Titanic race.

Cameron also went into detail about the making of the first two Terminator movie, Foreigners, The abyss and Avatar. His next film and first feature in more than a dozen years, Avatar: The Way of Watergoes to the cinema December 16.

Related Posts