When movie fans think back on James Cameron’s Oscar-winning Titanic, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in the film’s leading roles. But what if Winslet and DiCaprio weren’t Rose and Jack? What if they were played by completely different actors? Oftentimes, the actors that are inevitably given the roles are not the director’s first choice.
Take, for example, Michael J. Fox’s iconic turn as Marty McFly in Back to the Future. Although these days audiences can only see Fox in the role, it was actually Eric Stoltz who was originally meant to play the film’s plucky teenager. Not too long ago, Universal even released some of Stoltz’s Back to the Future footage, just to show fans how the actor would have approached the role of Marty.
As far as Titanic is concerned, we don’t have another Stoltz/Fox situation, but what we do have is footage of Kate Winslet screen testing for the role of Rose. The footage comes to us by way of Yahoo, which has debuted this featurette in celebration of Titanic releasing on Blu-Ray this week.
A screen test, for those that might not know, is used to give the director a better sense of how a principal actor works on film. Sometimes it’s used to test out various forms of a costume or, as in this case, is used to show how an actor “plays” onscreen.
However, what’s most unique about the footage is who Winslet is acting opposite. Although we know that Leonardo DiCaprio is Jack in the final film, it is actually Jeremy Sisto (currently seen in Suburgatory) delivering the character’s lines in the footage.
Before fans cry foul, though, they should know that Sisto was simply stepping in to help director James Cameron screen test Kate Winslet, and was not actually in the running for the role of Jack. That being said, Sisto isn’t all that bad, although his approach to the character is starkly different from DiCaprio’s.
Even the scene itself – where Rose opens up to Jack about her life thus far – is an expanded version of the one in Titanic. And there’s also a different tone to the scene, as evidenced by the way Rose responds to Jack’s drawings. In the theatrical scene Rose treats Jack with a certain air of disdain before realizing he’s a talented artist – but in this scene, she’s more than willing to open up from the very beginning.
While no die-hard Titanic fan would trade Sisto for DiCaprio, or swap this extended scene for the one in the film, it’s interesting to see how differently it could have played out. This is only one of the many special features that are reportedly on the Titanic Blu-Ray – which is available in 2D or 3D - and it’s certainly one worth comparing against the final version of the film.
Titanic is available now on Blu-Ray.