Earlier this week, Avatar: the way of the water director and screenwriter James Cameron put down with GK to talk about his latest movie. The acclaimed filmmaker has finally gone through all of his movies and revealed some behind-the-scenes information about every project he’s done. One of them was, of course Titanica film that is a milestone for both his career and the cinema itself.
Titanic became the highest-grossing movie ever made in 1997 and turned leading actors into superstars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. At the time, they probably didn’t realize how big it would be, but Cameron sure knew what kind of project he was setting up. Therefore, he had a clear idea that the casting of star-crossed lovers Jack (DiCaprio) and Rose (Winslet) had to be perfect. During the interview, he revealed that he was initially hesitant to call Winslet for an audition, a decision he immediately regretted after watching her read lines to him. For DiCaprio, however, the casting process started off on the wrong foot, and the director could have easily gone the other way had Leo not broken his own rules. Cameron states:
“So of course Leo came in, cast a spell on everyone, including myself, and I said, ‘Okay, let’s see what your chemistry is like with Kate.’ So he comes in a few days later […] he didn’t know he was going to test. He came in thinking it was another meeting to meet Kate. And I said, ‘Okay, so we’ll just go to the next room and we’ll just go over some lines and I’ll film it. And he said, ‘You mean I’m reading?’, and I said ‘Yes!’ And he said, ‘Oh, I can’t read,’ and I said fine, I shook his hand and said, ‘Well, thanks for stopping by.’”
Needless to say, the Titanic The story could have turned out very differently if DiCaprio hadn’t been angry with Cameron. As the director continues to tell the story, he reveals that the young actor was so frustrated that the director wouldn’t give him the part on the spot that he decided to audition out of spite. What happened next was magical:
“So he comes in and he’s like… every ounce of his whole being is just so negative. Until I said “Action,” and then he turned into Jack. And Kate just lit up, and they went into this whole thing and played the scene… Dark clouds had opened up and a ray of sunshine came down and lit up Jack. I’m like, ‘Okay, he’s the man.’”
Titanic was at the time of production the most expensive film ever made. It held the title of highest-grossing film ever for 12 years, and was the first to cross the $1 billion mark in ticket sales. Much of that success depended on the undeniable chemistry between DiCaprio and Winslet, which was supposed to fuel the story for at least an hour — the sinking sequence doesn’t begin until about halfway through the movie. The cast is also featured Kathy Bates, Billy Zaan, Gloria Stuart, Victor Garberand Bill Paxton.
You can watch the full James Cameron interview below: