Claire Danes Remembers The Moment She Knew She Didn’t Want To Star In Titanic With Leonardo DiCaprio
Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio making flirty eyes at one another across a fish tank in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet will forever be known as one of the most romantic moments of ‘90s cinema. Audiences almost got way more where that came from: Danes was reportedly considered for the role of Rose in Titanic opposite DiCaprio, but turned it down to avoid an uncomfortable level of fame, she told Dax Shepard this week on his Armchair Expert podcast.
Danes was just 17 when she starred in the 1996 Shakespeare adaptation, having just come off her moody role in ABC series My So-Called Life. Though Danes said there was “strong interest” for her to play Rose in Titanic, she told Shepard that she had “just made this romantic epic with [Leonardo DiCaprio] in Mexico City,” which is where they planned to shoot Titanic. She just “didn’t have it” in her to take on the major part.
DiCaprio also had some reservations about taking on the role which would go on to solidify him as a huge movie star.
“Leo and I shared a manager at the time, and we were there at the office,” Danes explained on the podcast. “Leo had this rental red convertible, some, like, hot rod car. And he was kinda going in circles in the parking lot. And I knew he was wrestling with the decision to do that movie or not and he just looked up at me, and he said, ‘I’m doing it. I’m doing it.’ And I could see he wasn’t sure, but he was like, ‘fuck it, I gotta do this thing.’ And I looked down on him going, like, ‘I totally understand why you are doing it. And I’m not ready for that.’”
Though she was a rising star, Danes apparently wasn’t quite ready to be launched into the stratosphere the way James Cameron’s major production was likely to do. She knew she made the right decision when she attended the premiere of The Man In the Iron Mask, which DiCaprio starred in one year after Titanic’s release in 1997.
“When he walked into the room, the floor fell in his direction,” Danes explained to Shepard. “Everybody in the room just went towards him. And it was a little scary. I think I may have sensed I was courting that, and I just couldn’t do it.”
Turning down the part in Titanic didn’t exactly hurt Danes career: She’s since earned three Emmys for her work in TV movie Temple Gradin and Showtime series Homeland. One thing that she’s successfully avoided? Having to answer the question about whether Jack could have fit on that board in the ocean.