'It Seemed Like Lazy Casting': James Cameron Initially Didn't Want Kate Winslet a.k.a. 'Corset Kate' for Titanic

Titanic established Kate Winslet as a superstar, but her role in the hit film wasn’t always guaranteed

Published Time: 12.06.2024 - 22:31:14 Modified Time: 12.06.2024 - 22:31:14

Titanic established Kate Winslet as a superstar, but her role in the hit film wasn’t always guaranteed.

According to the 1997 Best Picture Oscar winner’s writer-director James Cameron, Winslet’s reputation as “Corset Kate,” as a recent Variety profile dubbed the actress, caused him to hesitate in casting her.

“It seemed like lazy casting,” he said, considering Winslet, now 48, was known for previous work in period pieces like 1995’s Sense and Sensibility and 1996’s Hamlet — playing roles perhaps too similar to Titanic’s wealthy socialite Rose DeWitt Bukater.

“But then wiser heads prevailed, and I could see what everybody was talking about,” recalled Cameron, 69. On the screen, he added, Winslet is “very alive. She comes into a room with a great deal of confidence, and she’s got that spark of life.”

The English star, who went on to earn a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Titanic (one of seven, including a win for 2008’s The Reader), also recalled for Variety remarks she had made after filming that some interpreted as signs of a feud between her and Cameron. 

“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,” said Winslet, who in 2022 reunited with the Canadian filmmaker for Avatar: The Way of Water. “He -

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

“There was never a rift between us,” Cameron said. “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.”

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In 2022, when Titanic celebrated 25 years since becoming one of cinema's highest-grossing movies, Cameron told Deadline he “can't imagine that film without” Winslet and costar Leonardo DiCaprio, 49.

“Leo, the studio didn’t want him; I had to fight for him,” the director recalled at the time. “Kate really liked him. And then Leonardo decided he didn’t want to make the movie. So then I had to talk him into it… If that had really kind of frayed apart, it would have been somebody else and it wouldn’t have been that film.”

Among Winslet’s projects this year are leading the HBO series The Regime (which premiered in March) and playing real-life World War II photojournalist Lee Miller in Lee (in theaters Sept. 27).

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