This Video Shows Leonardo DiCaprio Nearly Didn’t Land His Titanic Role

Imagine a world without Leo's Jack Dawson...

Leo as Jack in Titanic

by Charlotte Roberts |
Published on

When it comes to James Cameron’s iconic tribute to doomed ships, car sex and centre partings, our love really does go on when it comes to Titanic. Some 27 years after its release, the film is still every bit the hit it was back in 1997.

But what if we told you that there was a world where Leonardo DiCaprio's baby blues almost didn’t gaze across the North Atlantic Ocean, teach Kate Winslet to 'spit like a man' over the side of the boat, or find himself ordered to draw his leading lady 'like one of your French girls’?

It’s often a long old road before our favourite actors secure their leading roles. Often, multiple famous faces are screen tested for the role – with one recently surfaced video showing another actor stepping into Jack Dawson's boots.

In the video, Kate Winslet is seen reading lines opposite Jeremy Sisto (who is best known for his roles in Clueless and FBI.) In the scene, Jack and Rose sit together as Rose opens up on her life. If you want to give it a watch, the scene starts around 40 seconds in…

Naturally, those who stumbled across the video were left with some thoughts. ‘Good example of a perfectly fine audition, but just not the right fit,’ wrote one. Another agreed, ‘No other Jack possible,’ as one fan added, ‘He’s sort of playing it cool, while Leo had an earnestness that made Jack very loveable.’

As it turns out, Jeremy Sisto wasn’t the only actor to almost be sunk on the replica ship. Kate Winslet previously revealed that the team’s first choice for her leading man was none other than Magic Mike's Matthew McConaughey.

‘I auditioned with Matthew, isn’t that weird?’ she explained. ‘I’ve never said that in public before. I auditioned with Matthew, which was completely fantastic. It just wouldn’t have been the whole Jack and Rose, Kate and Leo thing.’

Matthew McConaughey in 1996: The star read for the role of Jack Dawson ©Getty

It wasn’t only other actors who nearly threw a spanner in Leo’s Titanic dreams, though. His ‘negative’ energy reportedly almost lost him the role.

Oscar-winning director James Cameron opened up in 2022 about the casting process, recalling how Leo initially refused to read for the part of Jack alongside Kate (who was already locked in to play Rose.)

Revealing that Leo ‘charmed’ the office in his first meeting, James added, ‘He came back a couple of days later and I had the camera set up to record the video. He didn’t know he was going to test, he thought it was just another meeting to meet Kate. So I said, “Okay, we’ll go in the next room, and we’ll run some lines and I’ll video it.” And he said, “You mean, I’m reading? I don’t read.” I shook his hand and said, “Thanks for coming by.”’

‘[Leo said], “Wait, if I don’t read, I don’t get the part? Just like that?” 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 f*ck it up by making the wrong decision in casting, So you’re going to read, or you’re not going to get the part.’

Leo and Kate
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic, 1997. ©Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox

In a move that may up the ick-factor slightly when it comes to noughties heartthrob Leo, James added, ‘He comes in, and he’s like everyone ounce of his entire being is being so negative.’ That is, until the cameras turned on, and ‘dark clouds opened up, and a ray of sun came down and lit up Jack.’

I think we can all agree Leo’s casting proved to be the right decision. Titanic went on to become the highest grossing movie of all time during its run, now ranking as the fourth highest-grossing film (underneath 2009’s Avatar, 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, and 2022’s Avatar: The Way of Water) with $2.2 billion at the box office. Across the pond, that's equivalent to £1.7 billion.

Quite frankly, there’s no one else we’d rather see shivering in a freezing cold pool than Leo.

Charlotte Roberts is a News and Entertainment Writer for Grazia, writing interviews and features around everything pop culture.

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