In Friday’s episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Colbert revealed that Paramount Pictures wanted Matthew McConaughey to play Jack in Titanic but director James Cameron insisted on Leonardo DiCaprio. Kate Winslet added, “I auditioned with Matthew, isn’t that weird? Never said that in public before.”
Winslet described the audition with McConaughey as “fantastic,” but also different from the chemistry she had with DiCaprio.
Interestingly, DiCaprio and McConaughey were at similar points in their careers when casting began for Titanic in 1996. DiCaprio had just starred in The Basketball Diaries and Romeo + Juliet, while McConaughey was in A Time to Kill and Lonestar. So, in fairness to Paramount, either choice seems pretty reasonable — although, it doesn’t seem a ton like a McConaughey role in hindsight, as Jack was rarely shirtless.
While Titanic was a great movie that helped launch DiCaprio’s career, McConaughey dodged a few bullets not having to film this one with James Cameron. Filming ran four weeks longer than scheduled because many in the cast caught the flu or got sick filming for hours a day in the frigid Pacific. Winslet described the filming as an “ordeal” where she caught the flu, almost drowned, and suffered numerous injuries including a chipped bone in her elbow. Oh, and about 50 crew members including Cameron went to the hospital in Canada when a disgruntled employee put PCP in their soup.
While we would’ve loved a classic McConaughey “alright, alright, alright” after Jack sketched Rose, it probably would’ve ruined the moment.