Leonardo DiCaprio Nearly Lost His ‘Titanic’ Role After Making James Cameron Angry

Titanic was arguably the film that launched Leonardo DiCaprio’s career.

Though he’d been in various productions before, the record-breaking blockbuster launched Leo into international stardom, despite being only 23 when the movie premiered.

Nowadays, DiCaprio is one of the most well-known actors in Hollywood.

However, it appears Leo almost lost out on the role when he couldn’t keep from butting heads with the director, James Cameron.

While they obviously overcame their differences to release one of the most successful films of all time, there was a moment James wasn’t sure if DiCaprio could deliver his lines correctly.

Why Leo And James Had Conflict On The ‘Titanic’ Set

James Cameron Says Leonardo DiCaprio Almost Lost Titanic Role

One of the standout moments in Titanic was when DiCaprio’s character famously declares, “I’m the king of the world!” from the ship’s bow. However, there was a behind-the-scenes clash between DiCaprio and director James Cameron regarding the delivery of this iconic line.

In a retrospective interview with BBC Radio 1’s Ali Plumb, Cameron shed light on the backstory of the scene, revealing that they were grappling with how to execute the moment until the dialogue spontaneously came to him.

“It was made up on the spot. I was in a crane basket, and we were losing the light, and we had tried this and tried that, and we’d tried this line and that line, and nothing was really working,” James recalled.

“And I literally was just coming up snake eyes, and I said, ‘All right. I got one for you,” he went on. “Just say, I’m the king of the world, and just spread your arms out wide and just be in the moment, and just love it and celebrate the moment.'”

James admits Leo was initially hesitant, as he thought the line was cheesy, despite it going on to be one of the most memorable moments from the film.

“[DiCaprio] goes, ‘What?!’ I’m getting this over the walkie talkie. ‘What?!’ I said, ‘I’m the king of the world, just say I’m the king of the world. But you’ve gotta sell it.’ And he goes, ‘What?!’ I said, ‘Just ***** sell it!’ So then he gets up there, and [says it],” Cameron added.

Why ‘Titanic’ Was So Significant For Leonardo’s Career

Leonardo DiCaprio wearing baseball cap

Released in 1997, Titanic stands as one of the most culturally significant films in cinematic history. The movie tells the tragic love story of Jack (played by DiCaprio) and Rose (played by Kate Winslet) aboard the ill-fated RMS Titanic.

The film’s production was an enormous undertaking, with Cameron facing numerous challenges, including constructing a replica of the Titanic itself. The film’s budget ballooned to a staggering $200 million, making it the most expensive film ever made at the time. DiCaprio made approximately $2.5 million.

Upon its release, Titanic shattered box office records, grossing over $2 billion worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing film of all time until Cameron’s later film Avatar surpassed it in 2009. It also received widespread critical acclaim and won a record-tying 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Cameron.

For Leonardo, Titanic was a career-defining moment. The film catapulted him to global superstardom and established him as one of Hollywood’s leading actors. DiCaprio has spoken fondly of his experience working on the film, acknowledging its impact on his career and expressing gratitude for the opportunities it provided him. He has credited the film with opening doors to diverse and challenging roles and shaping his trajectory as an actor.

So, even though DiCaprio and Cameron may have had their differences while filming, they clearly can both appreciate how impactful the movie ended up being, even if it was a challenge to create.

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