When Rose met . . . Elton?
James Cameron’s sweeping, epic 1997 romance, Titanic, probably wouldn’t have garnered the 11 Oscars it did had he cast Jeremy Sisto alongside Kate Winslet instead of Leonardo DiCaprio.
This week, Yahoo unearthed the screen-test that convinced Cameron to choose Winslet, then just 19, to be his leading lady, Rose DeWitt Bukater. (He had yet to settle on DiCaprio to play “King of the World” Jack Dawson; now 37, DiCaprio became a global superstar after being cast.)
Suburgatory‘s Sisto, who had few credits to his name prior to 1995’s Clueless, read the still-unpolished, somewhat awkward Jack-Kate dialogue (which included gems like “Thank you for thanking me. I mean, you’re welcome”, and “Roses are very complex, actually. Have you ever torn one apart?”)
In the intro to the screen test, director Cameron discusses how future Oscar winner Winslet, now 36, convinced him to trust her with the role.
“Kate told me how much she loved the role and believed she could do it,” he explained of the British actress, who at that point had made a splash in the shocking 1994 Heavenly Creatures. “She sent me a rose, with a note, that basically said, ‘I’m ready.’ A 19-year-old girl that’s going to carry a film of that scale on her shoulders, it’s a huge responsibility.”
In the end, he admits, his initial hesitations were for naught. “A lot of people would have imploded under that [pressure], but she didn’t.”
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