According to Cameron, he almost shook a 21-year-old DiCaprio’s hand and saw him on his way after the actor refused to do a reading for him during auditions.
In a new interview with GQ, Cameron recalled, “I said [to DiCaprio], ‘Okay, we’ll just go in the next room, and we’ll run some lines and I’ll video it.’ And he said, ‘You mean, I’m reading?'”
Watch Cameron’s interview above.
“He said, ‘Oh, I don’t read.’ I shook his hand and said, ‘Thanks for coming by.’ And he said, ‘Wait, wait, wait. If I don’t read, I don’t get the part? Just like that?'”
In response, Cameron said he was quite firm with the actor.
“I said, ‘Oh, yeah. Come on. 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–k it up by making the wrong decision in casting. So, you’re going to read, or you’re not going to get the part.'”
After that, DiCaprio was huffy, and apparently very “negative” leading up to having to read with co-star Kate Winslet.
“He comes in… and every ounce of his entire being is just so negative – right up until I said, ‘Action.’ Then he turned into Jack,” the director marvelled.
“Kate just lit up, and they played the scene. Dark clouds had opened up, and a ray of sun came down and lit up Jack. I’m like, ‘All right. He’s the guy.'”
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The read ended up turning into a magical moment, until DiCaprio hit Cameron with something else.
“Leonardo comes back in, and he says ‘My dad and I have been talking abut the script, and we were thinking it could have this and this and this’.”
“He wanted [the role] to have some affliction, or some problem, or some traumatic thing from the past,” Cameron explained.
When DiCaprio finished, Cameron decided to hit him with some advice.
“I said, ‘You gotta learn how to hold the centre and not have all that stuff, this isn’t Richard III.
“‘When you can do what Jimmy Stewart did, or Gregory Peck did – they just f–king stood there, they didn’t have a limp or a lisp – then you’ll be ready for this, but I’m thinking you’re not ready.”
When Cameron explained that to DiCaprio, everything “clicked” for him.
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