James Cameron recalls almost dropping Leonardo DiCaprio from Titanic

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James Cameron recalls demanding Leonardo DiCaprio show him a little more respect during the casting process for 1997’s Titanic.

On the eve of the release of Avatar: The Way Of Water, James Cameron has revealed an interesting story about just how close one of his previous blockbusters came to being markedly different. Speaking to GQ, Cameron recalled how he very nearly nixed the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio because of the actor’s attitude during their second meeting.

As Cameron recalls, he wanted to go through some lines and video DiCaprio. But the actor wasn’t keen.

“He said oh, I don’t read. I shook his hand and said thanks for coming by. And he said wait, wait, wait. If I don’t read, I don’t get the part? Just like that?”

Cameron is renowned as a filmmaker who shall we say, gives a pretty short shrift to those who he perceives as not matching his own commitment to projects. Encountering DiCaprio’s reluctance to read, he told the outlet: “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 ‘cluck’ it up by making the wrong decision in casting”.

As such, Cameron states that he gave the young actor an ultimatum: read, or you don’t get the role. DiCaprio’s reluctance was clear, right up to the point Cameron said ‘action’. “Then he turned into Jack. Kate just lit up, and they played the scene. Dark clouds had opened up, and a ray of sun came down and lit up Jack. I’m like, alright. He’s the guy”

Titanic would ultimately become at the time the biggest grossest movie in history and DiCaprio’s starring role would make him the hottest young actor on the planet and a significant factor in the film’s success. Cameron’s brinkmanship would pay off handsomely and the story only serves to embellish the director’s legend as a filmmaker who demands that everybody on his productions give their all. Just ask those who’ve been there. done that and even got the t-shirt to prove it.

You can catch the full video interview here.

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