Titanic director James Cameron reveals Leonardo DiCaprio almost didn’t get the role of Jack Dawson

Titanic manager James Cameron revealed that Leonardo Di Caprio almost didn’t get his iconic role in the movie because of his attitude.

According to Cameron, he almost shook 21-year-old DiCaprio’s hand and sent him off after the actor refused to give him a speech during auditions.

In a new interview with GQCameron recalls, “I said [to DiCaprio], ‘Okay, we’ll go to the next room, and we’ll run some lines and I’ll take a video.’ And he said, ‘I mean, I’m reading?'”

See Cameron’s interview above.

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Titanic director James Cameron reveals why Leonardo DiCaprio almost didn't get the role of Jack Dawson.
Titanic director James Cameron reveals why Leonardo DiCaprio almost didn’t get the role of Jack Dawson. (YouTube/GQ)

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“He said, ‘Oh, I don’t read.’ I shook his hand and said, ‘Thanks for stopping by.’ And he said, “Wait, wait. If I don’t read, what part will I not receive? Just like that?”

In response, Cameron said he was quite tough on the actor.

“I said, ‘Oh, yeah. Come on. This is a huge movie that’s going to take up two years of my life, and you’re going to have to do five other things while I’m in post-production.

“So I’m not going to spoil it by making the wrong decision when casting. So you either read, or you don’t get the part.”

According to Cameron, DiCaprio wasn’t happy with the idea that he too had to read to get his iconic role. (20th century fox)

Afterwards, DiCaprio became irritable and seemed so “negative” that he had to read with co-star Kate Winslet.

“He walked in… and little by little the whole of who he was was just therefore negative – until I say, ‘Action.’ Then he turned into Jack,” surprised the director.

“Kate just lit it up, and they did the scene. Dark clouds came in, and a ray of sunlight came down and lit up Jack. I thought, ‘Okay. That’s him.”

Titanic director James Cameron imitated how a 21-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio got angry and continued in his audition for the role of Titanic.
Cameron imitated the way 21-year-old DiCaprio got angry and went on to audition for the role of Titanic. (YouTube/GQ)

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The reading became a magical moment, until DiCaprio hit Cameron with something else.

“Leonardo came back, and he said ‘My dad and I discussed the script, and we thought it might have this and this and this’.”

“He wants to [the role] Cameron explained.

When DiCaprio finished speaking, Cameron decided to give him some advice.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson in Titanic (1997)
After some words from Cameron, the director said things had “clicked” for the actor. (Paramount’s photo)

“I said, ‘You have to learn to stay centered and without all that, this isn’t Richard III.

“‘When you can do what Jimmy Stewart did, or Gregory Peck did – they just–king standing there, they don’t limp or slurred – then you’ll be ready for this, but I’m doing it. think you’re not ready.”

When Cameron explained it to DiCaprio, things were “intriguing” for him.

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