Claire Danes has explained why, although she was in the running for the role of Rose in 1997’s Titanic, she decided to take a step back from the film which went on to break records worldwide.
In 1996, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet had just been released to critically acclaimed success. Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, the stars of the film, were everywhere and both were tipped to be the next big thing.
So, it makes sense, then, that when casting decisions were being made for another romantic epic, Titanic, the names of Danes and DiCaprio were thrown around once more. After all, cinema audiences had just fallen in love with them as Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers.
For a young actor, the chance to work on a film that’s sure to be huge sounds like too good an opportunity to miss, doesn’t it? Well, for Danes that’s not quite true.
In fact, while recently on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, the actor described what happened over 20 years ago when she was contemplating putting herself forward for the role of Rose and why protecting her mental health is what stopped her doing it.
Describing herself as a “big Leo fan”, Danes explained that she has “zero regrets” about not following up on the “strong interest” that was being shown in her to star in Titanic.
Speaking to Shepard she says: “Honestly, I’d just made this romantic epic with Leo in Mexico City, which is where they were going to shoot Titanic, and I just didn’t have it in me.”
She continues, recalling speaking to DiCaprio about the film at the time: “And I remember, Leo and I shared a manager at the time, and we were there at the office. And I was on a balcony, which is funny… and Leo had this rental red convertible… 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.’”
Danes says she could see that DiCaprio was “conflicted” about taking on the part of Jack, but that he had decided, “Fuck it, I gotta do this thing.”
However, for Danes the issue was about the level of fame that would follow and whether she could cope, or was ready, for that kind of attention.
In the end, Danes says her decision to walk away from the film was because she could feel she wasn’t “ready for that”, reflecting: “And I think I really wasn’t ready for that.”
Danes’ decision to protect her mental health is an inspiring example of how difficult, but important, it can be to turn down career opportunities that could have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing.
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