Leonardo DiCaprio, who played the role of Jack Dawson in the James Cameron’s masterpiece, had turned down the offer when Cameron approached him initially. It’s hard for the fans to gulp this fact down the throat because we can never imagine anyone other than Leonardo to play the role of our sweet boy Jack. Had Leonardo not accepted this offer, him and Kate Winslet probably wouldn’t have been bestfriends today. James Cameron had to convince him thoroughly before he finally accepted to take this part.
Before Cameron approached DiCaprio, he also short-listed a few other actors for the role. Those celebs include – Matthew McConaughey, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, River Phoenix, and Johnny Depp. While McConaughey and Bale were quite upset about not getting the role ultimately, Depp didn’t care much to get featured in Cameron’s film.
During the time of casting, DiCaprio was in his early 20s and had recently played the principal characters in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape as well as Romeo + Juliet. After his splendid performance as Romeo, the makers decided his to fit perfect for the role of Jack Dawson. The primary reason for Leonardo to turn down the offer in the beginning was the fact that he didn’t want to be seen as a heartthrob in the industry. He wanted to gain fame and respect in the industry and not remain a mere good-looking boy with acting skills.
After earning respect for his superb acting skills in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, he was worried he would resort back to being just a ‘heartthrob’. DiCaprio, who looked for complex characters to play, found the sweet Jack role “too easy” for him. Luckily, the producer of Titanic, Rae Sanchini, was able to talk him into accepting Jack as his new role.
She said, “When you think about it, Jack is the purest of heart. We meet him, and he’s not conflicted,” says Sanchini. “He knows exactly who he is. Jack knows his place in the world. He’s fearless…he falls in love, but he doesn’t change as a person…He makes his choice to die for the woman he loves, and he’s at peace with that.” That’s when DiCaprio finally realized that, according to W Magazine, “playing a character like Jack, who doesn’t have any obvious stuff to hide behind…was a challenge in and of itself.”