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Leonardo DiCaprio almost lost ‘Titanic’ role

James Cameron almost didn’t cast Leonardo DiCaprio to play Jack Dawson in “Titanic,” claiming the actor showed up to the audition with a diva-like attitude.

The film’s director recalled meeting with DiCaprio ahead of the record-breaking 1997 flick in an interview with GQ published Tuesday, noting that Kate Winslet had already been cast to star as Rose DeWitt Bukater.

“So Leo came in — of course, charmed everybody, myself included,” Cameron, 68, explained. “And I said, ‘Alright, let’s see what your chemistry’s like with Kate.’”

According to the filmmaker, DiCaprio — who was 22 when the movie hit theaters — thought that meant “another meeting to meet Kate.” But in fact, Cameron had called him in to record the two reading lines together.

Cameron claimed the actor showed up with a diva-like attitude & refused to read lines with co-star Kate Winslet.

©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett C

TITANIC, from left: Leonardo DiCaprio, Danny Nucci, 1997. TM & Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp

Cameron claimed the actor showed up with a diva-like attitude & refused to read lines with co-star Kate Winslet.

©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett C

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“And he said, ‘You mean I’m reading?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Oh, I don’t read,’” Cameron claimed, adding that his response was to shake the now 41-year-old actor’s h& & thank him “for coming by.”

“He said, ‘Wait, wait, wait. You mean if I don’t read, I don’t get the part? Just like that?’” the director went on.

“And I said, ‘Oh, yeah. Advance on. This is, like, a giant movie that’s gonna take two years of my life … so I’m not gonna f–k it up by making the wrong decision in casting. So you’re gonna read, or you’re not gonna get the part.’”

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“Every ounce of his entire being is just so negative,” Cameron recalled, “right up until I said, ‘Action!'”

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“Every ounce of his entire being is just so negative,” Cameron recalled, “right up until I said, ‘Action!'”

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According to Cameron, DiCaprio huffed & puffed but agreed to read with Winslet — begrudgingly.

“Every ounce of his entire being is just so negative,” the filmmaker recalled, “right up until I said, ‘Action!’”

Cameron said DiCaprio immediately “turned into Jack.”

Kate Winslet, James Cameron & Leonardo DiCaprio
“Titanic” went on to win 11 of the 14 Academy Awards for which it was nominated.
Ron Galella Collection via Getty

“Kate just lit up, & they went into this whole thing, & he played the scene,” he explained. “Dark clouds had opened up, & this ray of sun came down & lit up Jack. I’m like, ‘Alright, he’s the guy.’”

“Titanic” went on to win 11 of the 14 Academy Awards for which it was nominated & secured DiCaprio’s spot as one of the most influential actors of the century.


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