“Titanic” remains the biggest hit of Leonardo DiCaprio’s career, but it sounds like getting the actor to star in the film was tough work for director James Cameron. The filmmaker recently told People magazine that DiCaprio thought the “Titanic” screenplay was “boring” and didn’t want to star in the epic disaster romance film. Cameron had to “twist” DiCaprio’s arm.
“He didn’t want to do a leading man,” Cameron said. “I had to really twist his arm to be in the movie. He didn’t want to do it. He thought it was boring. [He] accepted the part only when I convinced him that it was actually a difficult challenge.”
As revealed to GQ magazine earlier this year, Cameron and DiCaprio hit another speed bump on the road to “Titanic” when DiCaprio refused to screen test for the movie. Kate Winslet had already landed the role of Rose, and Cameron wanted DiCaprio to screen test with her before officially giving him the role of Jack.
“I had the camera set up to record the video,” Cameron said. “Leo didn’t know he was going to test. He thought it was another meeting to meet Kate. So I said, ‘Okay, we’ll just go in the next room, and we’ll run some lines and I’ll video it.’ And he said, ‘You mean, I’m reading?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Oh, I don’t read.’ I shook his hand and said, ‘Thanks for coming by.’”
Cameron was ready to turn away DiCaprio, but the actor came back to him and said, “Wait, wait, wait. If I don’t read, I don’t get the part? Just like that?” Cameron responded, “Oh, yeah. Come on. This is a giant movie that is going to take two years of my life, and you’ll be gone doing five other things while I’m doing post-production. So, I’m not going to fuck it up by making the wrong decision in casting. So, you’re going to read, or you’re not going to get the part.’”
DiCaprio eventually did a screen test and the rest is history. “Titanic” is celebrating its 25th anniversary by returning to theaters on Feb. 10 with a brand new 4K restoration.