‘Titanic’: The Real Reason James Cameron Didn’t Want to Cast Kate Winslet

Though it’s been 20 years, Titanic remains a cultural touchstone. From Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” to the unforgettable blue diamond necklace, the 1997 movie was memorable for many reasons. Of course, the talented and impressive cast was a huge part of Titanic‘s success. At the heart of it all was the beautiful and skilled Kate Winslet. It’s hard to imagine anyone else as Rose. But some people might be shocked to learn that the star almost wasn’t cast.

The story behind how Kate Winslet was cast in ‘Titanic’

When it came to the role of Rose, Gwyneth Paltrow, Claire Danes, and Gabrielle Anwar were a few of the popular A-listers Cameron and his team were initially after. The lead part was even offered to Paltrow, but the celebrity opted to turn it down. 

Unlike Paltrow, Winslet was absolutely dying to play Rose. In a Rolling Stone interview, she explained, “I closed the script, wept floods of tears and said, ‘Right, I’ve absolutely got to be a part of this. No two ways about it.'” 

Taking matters into her own hands, Winslet convinced her agent to give her Cameron’s number and called the director up herself. Once she got the director on the line, the actor bluntly stated, “I said, ‘I just have to do this, and you are really mad if you don’t cast me.'” 

Entertainment Weekly went into great detail regarding Titanic and how the cast came to be and recounted that Winslet went as far as to say, “I am Rose! I don’t know why you’re even seeing anyone else!” Winslet’s persistent and passionate pleas paid off, and, eventually, she landed the role. 

Cameron recently sat down with GQ and elaborated further on the highly-speculated drama. As the director explained, he actually didn’t see Winslet at first, but he knew about the actor and her reputation as someone often cast in historical dramas. On that note, Cameron didn’t want to appear lazy or lackluster regarding the production by going with what seemed like an obvious choice. After meeting her in person, it didn’t take long for Cameron’s mind to change.

A look back at James Cameron and Kate Winslet’s rocky relationship

james cameron kate winslet
(L-R): Kate Winslet and Director James Cameron attend SFFILM’s 60th Anniversary Awards Night at Palace of Fine Arts Theatre on December 5, 2017 in San Francisco, California. | C Flanigan/Getty Images

After Titanic had wrapped, Winslet dropped some eyebrow-raising comments in post-production interviews that had many people questioning Cameron and his character. 

E! News documented the tumultuous timeline between the two, but, as the story went, Winslet shared that Cameron bullied her due to her weight and could often lose his temper. “Kate Weighs-a-Lot” was one of the rumored names Cameron came up with for Winslet while working together on the set of Titanic. In another interview, Winslet disclosed, “I would only work for Jim Cameron again for a lot of money.” 

Although that might all sound really bad, Winslet has since gone back to help clear up matters. As Independent.ie recapped, she explained, “Yes, he lost his temper, but he only ever lost his temper for really, really good reasons. Like we would spend days literally setting up a shot, and if someone isn’t doing his job and dumps water 10 seconds too late, then we’ve got to start over. … Yeah, I could understand that man getting a little (ticked) off.”

As for the comments regarding her body, Winslet has opened up and shared, “When I was sixteen, I was fat. It was a family thing. We’re all big eaters. My uncle is a chef. My mother is a fantastic cook. Kind of unavoidable. I sensibly lost the weight doing Weight Watchers. End of story.”

As for Cameron, the director seemed pretty unphased by Winslet’s comments and hot takes and perceived it as the actor simply blowing off some steam.

James Cameron and Kate Winslet’s upcoming collaboration 

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Kate Winslet Was Criticized for More Than Her Weight Before Becoming Famous

When news broke that Cameron and Winslet would be reuniting for the long-awaited Avatar sequel, many people were excited but, obviously, also a little confused. Deadline shared Cameron’s thoughts and feelings on the highly-speculated development. The director said, “Kate and I have been looking for something to do together for 20 years, since our collaboration on Titanic, which was one of the most rewarding of my career…I can’t wait to see her bring the character of Ronal to life.”

Through the ups and the downs, Cameron and Winslet have managed to maintain a close and professional relationship, and many, especially Avatar fans, are grateful for that.