That was a dealbreaker for Cameron, who said he shook DiCaprio’s hand and thanked him “for coming by.”
“And [DiCaprio] said, ‘Wait, wait, wait. You mean, if I don’t read, I don’t get the part, just like that?'” Cameron continued. “And I said, ‘Oh yeah, come on. This is like a giant movie.'”
As Cameron puts it, the film was going to take up “two years of my life,” and he did not want to make “the wrong decision in casting.” Afterward, he gave DiCaprio a choice: “You’re going to read or you’re not going to get the part.”
DiCaprio agreed, though Cameron noted the future Oscar winner did so begrudgingly.
“So he comes in, and every ounce of his entire being is just so negative right up until I said, ‘Action,’ and then he turned into Jack. And Kate just lit up and they went into this whole thing and he played the scene,” Cameron said. “Dark clouds had opened up and a ray of sun came down and light up Jack. I’m like, ‘Alright, he’s the guy.'”