It’s wild to think that some of our favorite and most iconic films would be completely different with only one change, like a different casting decision. You'd be surprised about some of the actors who almost were cast instead in iconic roles. For instance, we already know Matthew McConaughey auditioned for the role of Jack in Titanic. Obviously he didn't get it, and we were graced with the amazing Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack. Rumors have been circulating that McConaughey turned down the famously tragic role of Jack Dawson, and the Dallas Buyers Club actor has spoken out to dispel those reports.
Matthew McConaughey recently appeared on an episode of the podcast Literally! With Rob Lowe and said that the rumors of him turning down the role of Jack are untrue. Not only did he not turn down the role, but he actually lost out on the gig when he was confident that he had won it. In McConaughey’s own words:
So I went and read with Kate Winslet and it was not one of the auditions — they filmed it so it was like into screen test time. After we left, you know, it was one of those ones where they, like, followed me and when we got outside they were like, ‘That went great.' I mean, kind of like hugs. I really thought it was going to happen. It did not.
It sounds like we were incredibly close to having a completely different Jack, as Matthew McConaughey describes his audition to be one that was in the final stages of casting. He may have been bummed to not get the part, but maybe it’s for the best. McConaughey is a versatile actor and no doubt would give us a swoon-worthy Jack Dawson, but it would be a completely different vibe than the younger Leonardo DiCaprio, who was only 22-years-old versus McConaughey’s 27 years.
Even though Matthew McConaughey is 5 years Leonardo DiCaprio’s senior and had already been in a number of accomplished films like A Time to Kill, Larger Than Life, and his starter film Dazed and Confused, DiCaprio’s career was more extensive at the time. DiCaprio started his career younger, and has already had a couple recurring TV roles and a few major film roles under his belt at the time of the Titanic casting. DiCaprio had just had the lead of Romeo in the modernized William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and been nominated for an Oscar for his role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
Titanic director James Cameron has said the reason for the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio over Matthew McConaughey has to do with women’s reactions to DiCaprio and wanting to be there while he read for the part. This may had to do with DiCaprio’s fame at the time versus McConaughey or his then-recent Romeo reputation, either way it worked out for him in the form of a major role in a record breaking film.
As bummed as Matthew McConaughey may have been at losing out on starring in such a huge film, his career hasn’t suffered too much for it. It would be hard to say just who has had the best career between McConaughey and Leonardo DiCaprio, and they both shone their own light on The Wolf of Wall Street when they starred together. It seems like everything worked out the way it was supposed to, we got our young love story in Titanic with DiCaprio and both actors have turned into a force to be reckoned with and consistently put out great performances. All I know is, I'm super jealous of Kate Winslet reading romantic lines with not only Leonardo DiCaprio but Matthew McConaughey too.