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Matthew McConaughey Was Originally the Top Pick Over Leonardo Dicaprio For ‘Titanic’

Leonardo DiCaprio's star-making performance in "Titanic" almost never happened.

Leonardo DiCaprio Kate Winslet Titanic

James Cameron’s record-breaking blockbuster “Titanic” is currently back on the big screen to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and the movie’s return has inspired at least one shocking revelation about its production: Matthew McConaughey was originally the top pick to play Jack Dawson. According to Kate Winslet, the studio was so intent on having McConaughey involved that she originally auditioned with him.

“I auditioned with Matthew, isn’t that weird?” Winslet told Stephen Colbert during a recent interview. “Never said that in public before. I auditioned with Matthew, which was completely fantastic. It just wouldn’t have been the whole, Jack and Rose, Kate and Leo thing.”

McConaughey was still relatively unknown during “Titanic’s” early days of development, having starred in Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused” and movies like “Boys on the Side” and “Glory Daze.” McConaughey was the studio’s top pick, but Cameron had also been looking at actors such as Billy Crudup. The director wanted someone who looked like he was 20 to play the part, which is what eventually helped land DiCaprio the role.

DiCaprio was already an emerging talent thanks to “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and “The Basketball Diaries,” but the one-two punch of Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” and “Titanic” made him an international star. Cameron’s epic romance has had such an impact on DiCaprio and Winslet’s lives that they still quote the film to each other to this day.

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