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Leonardo DiCaprio: Titanic Is “a Huge Part of My Life,” I’m “Incredibly Proud of it”

Leonardo DiCaprio
Seventeen years after starring in James Cameron's Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio has revealed what he really thinks about the film that made him a household name -- see what he had to say

Don’t worry, Jack Dawson lovers! Leonardo DiCaprio has only good things to say about his 1997 blockbuster hit Titanic. In an interview with CBS This Morning, the actor revealed he’s “proud” of the film that made him a household name — contrary to what fans may have assumed as schmaltzy or overblown from the actor’s perspective.

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“You know, it’s been such a long time, but it was such, you know, a huge part of my life,” DiCaprio, 39, told CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King. “And people maybe think I have a reaction to that film. But the truth is, I’m incredibly proud of it. And not only that, the movie has really made me be in control of my career.”

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DiCaprio starred in the James Cameron-directed film alongside now longtime friend Kate Winslet. (The film grossed a then-record breaking 343.6 million worldwide, and won the Oscar for Best Picture.) But before he came face-to-face with an iceberg, the Wolf of Wall Street star snagged his first Oscar nomination in 1993’s What’s Eating Gilbert Gilbert for his portrayal as a mentally handicapped boy. The Hollywood hunk has famously never won an Oscar to this day, but admitted that he didn’t want to win for the early ’90s film anyway.

“No, I — I didn’t,” he said. “All I remember is being paralyzed with fear that I’d have to actually get up on that stage because somebody told me a billion people watch that show. And that’s the only thing that I really remember.”

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“And — and I was in shambles about that,” he continued. DiCaprio went on to mention that something like giving a live speech is much different than filming a movie. After all, there’s no “cut” being given by a director, and no chance for a re-take.

“That’s the problem. There is no cut,” he said. “I mean, I’ve had a lot more experience since then, but I — that — that was my memory.”

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio Titanic
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in the 1997 blockbuster hit Titanic

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Another memory? How someone once suggested he change his name to Lenny Williams for the sake of his career. “It would sound less ethnic and I would be able to get more roles,” the Italian-American was told. “And my dad said, ‘Don’t you dare do that.'” 

DiCaprio has come a long way since his Titanic days. The star has also focused his attention on charity, and recently donated $3 million to Oceana through his foundation to help protect threatened ocean habitat and marine species. He also donated $3 million to World Wildlife Fund to help double Nepal’s tiger population.

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