When Shepard asked if she’d been offered the part of Rose, she said, “I think I did. I’m not entirely clear on that. There was strong interest.”
Danes had already starred as Juliet in Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film Romeo + Juliet with DiCaprio as Romeo.
“I had just made this romantic epic with Leo in Mexico City, which is where they were going to shoot Titanic,” Danes said. “And I just didn’t have it in me.”
While Danes knew she didn’t want the part, she said DiCaprio “was wrestling with the decision whether to do it or not.”
The actress said DiCaprio was circling the outside of his manager’s office in a red convertible when he “looked up at me and said, ‘I’m doing it! I’m doing it!'”
“And I could see he wasn’t sure,” Danes recalled. “But he was like, ‘F— it, I gotta do this.’ And I looked down at him going like, ‘I totally understand why you’re doing that. And I’m not ready for that.’ And I think I really wasn’t ready for it.”
She continued, “I remember after that movie came out and he just went into another stratosphere.”
Danes said she could see a shift in how other people treated the young actor, calling it “a little scary.”
“I think I may have sensed that I was courting that [level of fame] or I was proximate to that,” she said. “I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t want it.”
The actress said she has “zero regret” in turning down the role, adding, “I was really clear about it. I wasn’t conflicted.”
“It was going to propel me to something I knew I didn’t have the resources to cope with. I knew I had to do a lot of foundation building,” Danes said.
Titanic did launch DiCaprio and Winslet into massive fame, earning $2.1 billion at the worldwide box office and remains the third most profitable film of all time internationally.