James Cameron directed Titanic, which premiered in 1997. The film is based on the real-life sinking of the RMS Titanic, but it tells the story of two fictitious characters who meet on the ship and fall in love.
Leonardo DiCaprio played Jack Dawson in Titanic, while Kate Winslet played Rose DeWitt Bukater.
Although it’s difficult to envision anybody else playing Rose since the film’s release, Winslet said in a 2016 interview that she had to fight hard to get the part.
Kate, who is now a multi-award-winning actress, was still a small-scale actress who had only been on the Hollywood scene for a few years before being cast in Titanic in 1996 (her first film performance was in 1994’s Heavenly Creatures). So she had to work extra hard to persuade James to cast her as the affluent yet endearing Rose DeWitt Bukater.
Winslet sat down for an interview with Rolling Stone after the film’s premiere. She said in the interview that she was interested in playing Rose from the time she read the screenplay.
“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,’” she said.
She obtained James’ phone number from her agency and then dialed the director’s number from his car phone. “[James] was on the freeway, and he said, ‘I’m going somewhere.’ And I think he pulled over, and I said, ‘I just have to do this, and you are really mad if you don’t cast me.'”
Cameron eventually agreed to let Winslet conduct a screen test, but the young actress was not willing to take any chances.
She sent Cameron a bouquet of roses three days after the screen test, along with a letter that said, “from your Rose.” Winslet’s winning ways got her the role of Rose DeWitt Bukater, and she was cast as Rose DeWitt Bukater.
Cameron did not share Winslet’s belief that she was destined to portray Rose. Gwyneth Paltrow, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, and Reese Witherspoon were all considered for the role of Rose before Winslet was selected.
Casting director Mali Finn recommended DiCaprio and Winslet for the film’s lead roles, according to a 1997 story in Entertainment Weekly. Cameron “was initially uncertain, and even after Winslet’s test impressed him, he reserved judgment.”
A few days later, James cast her, and the rest is, as they say, history.
According to Kate, who spoke to USA Today recently, “”James took a risk in casting me. A lot of my contemporaries — Uma Thurman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Winona Ryder — were much more likely candidates. I got lucky.”