Way, way back in the mid-90s, Leonardo DiCaprio took on a role that set his trajectory as a global box office star by making him drown in icy waters in a completely scientifically accurate way. Also, there was kissing and nude drawings involved. Director James Cameron has effectively celebrated the 25th anniversary of Titanic by watching Avatar 2 beat all of its records, and as we round the corner on a quarter century with the modern classic in our lives, he’s opened up about the diplomatic process of getting it made.
“He didn’t want to do a leading man,” Cameron told People. “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’s not wrong! As a young actor, DiCaprio was taking on Gilbert Grapey roles, so it makes sense that he didn’t want to dive into an historical romance.
The story gets even more frustrating because Cameron then had to convince DiCaprio to read for the part, and then had to convince the studio that DiCaprio was the right man for the job. No one wanted the movie to be cast the way Cameron did, including a key member of the cast, and it took Cameron’s massive strength of will to pull the vision together.
Thankfully, Cameron convinced DiCaprio and the studio, and the rest is well-researched historical fiction. Also thankfully, DiCaprio wasn’t involved in the Titanic wrap party where dozens of people were hospitalized after eating PCP-laced chowder. It might have made Cameron’s cajoling feel a little bit sour.