It’s no secret that “Titanic” was a difficult production, after which filmmaker James Cameron and his cast and crew were vindicated by the huge critical and commercial success of the film. But 25 years later, Cameron still has new stories to tell about the many ways ‘Titanic’ could have turned out differently, revealing in a new interview that Leonardo DiCaprio originally wanted his character Jack to be steeped in a backstory. more tragic or a physical affliction. .
Cameron, who is preparing to release his first “Avatar” sequel, detailed in a new video interview with GQ how DiCaprio came to him with script notes (which Cameron wrote).
“So I finally managed to get the studio okay, and then Leonardo comes back and he says, ‘You know, my dad and I talked about the script and we really think it needs this and this and this and that.’ He really wanted to have like, I don’t know, an affliction or a traumatic thing from the past,” Cameron recalled.
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“I said, ‘Look, you’ve done all these great characters who all have a problem, whether it’s addiction or whatever, I said you have to learn to hold the center and not have all that. It’s not Richard III. When you can do what Jimmy Stewart did or Gregory Peck – they just f—king stood there, they weren’t limping or lisping or whatever – then you’ll be ready for it, but I think you ‘ you’re not ready. Because what I’m talking about is actually much more difficult. These things are easier, they are props, they are crutches. What I’m talking about is much harder, and you’re probably not ready for it.
It’s worth remembering that by the time DiCaprio signed on to star in ‘Titanic,’ he was already an Oscar-nominated performer known for playing troubled and/or distressed young men in movies like ‘The Basketball Diaries,'” What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”. and “Romeo + Juliet”. He hadn’t just played the “charismatic leader” yet, and Cameron says he needed to let DiCaprio know how difficult that kind of role was.
“The second I said that, he realized this was a really tough, difficult movie for him, and I realized my mistake,” Cameron said. “I hadn’t defined the challenge enough for him. You want the actor to like you, you want him to be in your movie, you want him to say yes to make everything look appealing. But he didn’t want something easy, he wanted something hard, and that’s been his instinct ever since and it leads to things like “The Revenant.” You don’t get harder than that.
You could argue that DiCaprio hasn’t played a role like Jack since ‘Titanic,’ as he followed his instincts to imbue even charming characters like Frank in ‘Catch Me If You Can’ with a kind of trauma they cross.
To put it another way, there’s a reason Baz Luhrmann cast Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby.
Watch Cameron’s full comments in the video above.
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