Matthew McConaughey Corrects Rumor He Turned Down ‘Titanic’: ‘Negatory’

Matthew McConaughey auditioned for the role of Jack in Titanic. Of course, the role went to Leonardo DiCaprio and the film became the biggest movie of all time until Avatar. McConaughey got farther than you might think. He actually read with Kate Winslet, who already had the role of Rose, and McConaughey thought the part was his. That’s why it’s important to McConaughey that his fans know he never turned it down.

Matthew MCConaughey smiling
Matthew McConaughey | Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

McConaughey appeared on Rob Lowe’s Literally! podcast on Feb. 17 as a stop on his Greenlights book tour. Lowe asked him about Titanic and McConaughey told the whole story. 

Why Matthew McConaughey ‘thought it was going to happen’ after his Titanic audition

Titanic is the love story between Jack and Rose on the ill fated ship. Jack is riding in steerage and whisks Rose out of her rich world, but alas the iceberg has other plans for them. McConaughey said he made it as far as screen testing with Winslet. 

“So I went and read for Titanic with Kate Winslet and it was not one of those just auditions,” McConaughey told Lowe. “They filmed it so it was into screen test time.”

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio on the deck of the Titanic
Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio | CBS via Getty Images

RELATED: Kate Winslet Said Leonardo DiCaprio ‘Hated’ Kissing Her in ‘Titanic’ and ‘Complained Bitterly’ About Their On-Screen Kiss

Although writer/director James Cameron kept a good poker face, McConaughey said all the casting directors, producers and even Winslet were high on him.

“From producers, Kate and everything, after we left, it was one of those ones where they followed me,” McConaughey said. “When we got outside they were like that went great, kind of like hugs. I really thought it was going to happen. Eh, did not.”

Matthew McConaughey had to correct another ‘Titanic’ rumor throughout his career

Not only did Titanic go on to make DiCaprio a movie star, but McConaughey still had to clear up rumors for years after. 

“The sort of gossip over the years that I had heard and would see written about me was that I had the role in Titanic and turned it down,” McConaughey said. “Negatory. Not factual. I did not get offered that role. For a while there I was thinking, ‘I gotta find that agent. They’re in trouble.’ Well, I didn’t ever get the offer. I did not ever get the offer and Jim finally confirmed that. He either malapropped something or someone took something he said and that ran for a while.”

Titanic scene of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet dancing
Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio | CBS via Getty Images

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Of course, McConaughey was not the only competition for DiCaprio’s role. Tom Cruise, Chris O’Donnell, Christian Bale and Jeremy Sisto reportedly auditioned, while the likes of Billy Crudup, Johnny Depp, Stephen Dorff and Jared Leto passed.

Titanic began filming in the summer of 1996 when McConaughey’s breakthrough role in A Time to Kill had just opened. Perhaps if Cameron had seen the movie first, he would have decided differently. 

“I had to answer that question going, ‘I never got offered that as far as I know, I’m telling you. I did go have a good screen test, thought I had the role but did not get the role.’” McConaughey siad. “So yeah, I was in contention.”

Rob Lowe almost starred opposite him in ‘Titanic’

Telling the Titanic story on this podcast was a little different than the usual talk show. Lowe shared that he auditioned for the role of Rose’s fiance, whom Billy Zane eventually played.

“Jim shot that,” Lowe said of his Titanic screen test. “I’ll never forget that. He handheld shot it himself.”

RELATED: Leonardo Dicaprio Walked Kate Winslet Down the Aisle at Her Wedding

McConaughey commiserated with Lowe on the missed opportunity. 

“Okay, neither one of us made the cut but we were in the running,” McConaughey said.