James Cameron almost rejected ‘corset Kate’ Winslet for Titanic role

Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet appeared in several period dramas before landing the role in Titanic - ZOE MCCONNELL FOR VARIETY

Kate Winslet nearly missed out on her star-making role in Titanic, because director James Cameron did not want to cast “Corset Kate”.

“It seemed like lazy casting,” Cameron said, noting that Winslet had earned the nickname after appearing in period movies Sense and Sensibility, Jude and Hamlet.

He was talked into seeing her for an audition when “wiser heads prevailed, and I could see what everybody was talking about”.

“She’s very alive. She comes into a room with a great deal of confidence, and she’s got that spark of life,” Cameron told Variety. “She even sent me a single rose and said, ‘I have to be your Rose.’”

Kate Winslet as Rose in Titanic
Playing Rose turned Winslet into a superstar

Winslet landed the role as Rose DeWitt Bukater, a wealthy passenger on the doomed liner who falls for Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio). Titanic went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of all time.

The actress was just 22 when the film came out, and told Variety that being in the spotlight – which exposed her to criticism of her figure – had been difficult.

Kate Winslet talks about the price of fame and director feuds in an interview with Variety
Kate Winslet talks about the price of fame and director feuds in an interview with Variety - Zoe McConnell for Variety/Images as courtesy of Variety

“I actually felt a bit beaten up by it, truth be told,” she said. “I had a lovely family, but all my family saw is, ‘My God, Kate’s got work in a really big film.’ One doesn’t want to turn around to your mum and dad and say, ‘It’s really hard, actually.’”

Winslet and Cameron also addressed the supposed “feud” between them. The actress caused surprise when she returned to work with the director in his 2022 film Avatar: The Way of Water, because after making Titanic she told one interviewer: “He has a temper like you wouldn’t believe… You’d have to pay me a lot of money to work with Jim again.”

James Cameron on the set of the film
Cameron on the set of the film - SCREENPROD/PHOTONONSTOP/ALAMY

Cameron insisted that “there was never a rift between us”, adding: “She had a little postpartum depression when she let go of Rose.

“She and I have talked about the fact that she goes really, really deep, and her characters leave a lasting, sometimes dramatic impression on her.”

Winslet said: “There’s a part of me that feels almost sad that stupid, speculative Titanic stuff at the time overshadowed the actual relationship I have with him.

“He knows I will be up for anything. Any challenge, any piece of direction you give me? I’ll try it.”