Leonardo DiCaprio initially refused ‘Titanic’ screen test

ACCORDING to director James Cameron, Leonardo DiCaprio’s audition process for the 1997 mega-hit Titanic was not a simple sail.

In a career retrospective video interview with GQ magazine, the Oscar-winning director remembered how DiCaprio first declined to read for the role of Jack opposite Kate Winslet during a screen test.

Winslet was already cast in the role of Rose by the time Cameron scheduled a screen test for DiCaprio.

Cameron said: “He 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 [DiCaprio] 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 right then and there, 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, you’re going to read, or you’re not going to get the part.’”

“So he comes in, and he’s like every ounce of his entire being is just so negative – right up until I said, ‘Action.’ Then he turned into Jack.”

Cameron concluded: “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, ‘All right. He’s the guy.’”