Leonardo DiCaprio Wanted ‘Titanic’ Character Jack to Have an Affliction or Tragic Backstory, but James Cameron Refused

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It's no secret that Titanic was a challenging production, and filmmaker James Cameron and his cast and crew have been vindicated by the film's tremendous critical and commercial success. But 25 years later, Cameron still has new stories to tell about the many ways Titanic could have gone differently, revealing in a new interview that Leonardo DiCaprio originally wanted his character to have Jack with a more tragic backstory or physical ailments is penetrated .
Cameron, who is preparing for the release of his first "Avatar" sequel, detailed in a new video interview with GQ how DiCaprio came to him with notes on the script (which Cameron wrote).
"Then I finally get the studio to agree to that, then Leonardo comes back and says, 'You know, my dad and I have been talking about the script and we really think it takes this and that and that and that.' He really wanted something, I don't know, some ailment or something traumatic from the past," Cameron recalled.
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"I said, 'Look, you've made all these great characters who all have a problem, whether it's addiction or whatever. I said you gotta learn how to hold the center and not have all that stuff. That's not Richard III. If you can do what Jimmy Stewart did or Gregory Peck did - they just stood there, they didn't limp or lisp or whatever - then you're ready for it, but I'm thinking of you. not ready. Because what I'm talking about is actually much more difficult. These things are easier, these are props, these are crutches. What I'm talking about is much more difficult, 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 actor known for appearing in films like The Basketball Diaries, What's Eating Gilbert Grape ' to play troubled and/or tormented young men. and "Romeo + Juliet". He just had to play the "charismatic lead man," and Cameron says he had to let DiCaprio know how challenging that kind of role was.
"The second I said that, it clicked for him that this was a really challenging, tough film for him, and I realized my mistake," Cameron said. “I hadn't interpreted the challenge sufficiently for him. You want the actor to love you, you want them to be in your movie, you want them to say yes to make everything sound attractive. But he didn't want something easy, he wanted something heavy, and that's been his instinct ever since, leading to things like 'The Revenant'. It couldn't be more difficult."
It could be argued that DiCaprio hasn't played a role like Jack since Titanic, following his instinct to infuse even charming characters like Frank in Catch Me If You Can with a kind of trauma that they work through.
Put another way, there's a reason Baz Luhrmann cast Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby.
Check out Cameron's full comments in the video above.
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Canadian filmmaker
Leonardo DiCaprio

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