Paul Rudd is the Reason Leonardo DiCaprio did Titanic

Leonardo DiCaprio is known for his incredible career full of outstanding and diverse movies, but perhaps none is more famous than Titanic. What you may not realize is that Leo almost took a pass on the film. In fact, if it hadn’t been for his friend Paul Rudd, we might very well have seen a very different movie. Imagine a Titanic where Matthew McConaughey played Jack opposite Drew Barrymores’ Rose. Stranger things have happened, but we think it was impressive of Paul Rudd to help tip the scales for the film because it just wouldn’t have been the same without Leo.

Truth & Fiction

The story of Titanic isn’t quite what happened. Jack and Rose are fictional. However, many of the characters portrayed around them in the movie are real people who lived, rode and in some cases died on the ill-fated voyage. James Cameron, who wrote the film consulted with the Titanic Historical Society’s historian Don Lynch to help bring as much reality to the scenes as possible.

One of the least likely seeming scenes that fans and critics went crazy over was when the band kept playing after everyone knew the ship was sinking. That seems like some Hollywood nonsense. People love a good heroic act, even if the main characters don’t necessarily perform it themselves. As odd as it may seem, that part of the story is true. The passengers who survived say they stayed to help keep people calm, and it worked. They may even have prevented more problems and more deaths with that brave decision. The song, “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” that was featured in the film, was one the real band played. Multiple eyewitness accounts recalled hearing it at the time.

While most people know the story of the “unsinkable” ship that went down when it hit an iceberg, few know more than that tiny blurb. Intriguingly one of the people who does know a good bit about the history behind the Titanic is Leonardo’s friend Paul Rudd. His father was fascinated by the topic, and Paul says his father would “just talk about it.”

Alt Reality Titanic Matches That Almost Happened

We’re totally into the idea of some strange alternate universe where Johnny Depp and Madonna were Jack and Rose. Meanwhile, back here in our reality, we like things just the way they are. We didn’t just pick all those names out of a hat. Whenever a major studio film is in the works, there’s a list of top tier celebs who they want to see for a reading before the decision gets finalized. According to, there are plenty of incredible A-listers who almost starred in Titanic.

Move over Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie were both considered for the roles. Current affairs aside, we always loved seeing them team up on screen or in life. Before you hiss at us under your breath, he hadn’t met and married Jennifer Aniston yet in 1997 when Titanic came out. Unfortunately for Brad, however, Angie was married to Jonny Lee Miller at the time. They’d only been married for a year at that point. Things in the lives of the stars might have gone very differently if Brad had been the one to break up Angelina’s first marriage. Just as interesting, Jennifer Aniston was also on the list of potential female leads at the time.

How do you feel about Chris O’Donnell and Charlize Theron as the headliners? Honestly, we could see that match working out surprisingly well. What doesn’t play quite the same for us is the idea that Macaulay Culkin and Uma Thurman also could have been the ones playing hide the diamond. Don’t get it twisted, we love them both, but sometimes we wonder what the studio execs are thinking. Even Madonna, yes that Madonna, was considered for a part in Titanic. In the end, it was Leo and Kate, who made it the movie into a blockbuster love story for the ages that we’re still interested in re-watching today.

Fate & Friendship

It takes a good friend to back you up and a great friend to give you some advice that tips your career over the edge into the realm of superstardom. While Paul doesn’t necessarily take credit for Leo’s decision to take the role of Jack, he certainly had input on the situation. Leonardo discussed it with Paul shortly after he was offered the part. He was in debate and uncertain if it was the right move for him. Paul encouraged him to say yes because he knew his friend would do the part justice.

This story gets just a little stranger because there’s one name we left off the list of potential alternate lead actors. Paul himself read for that part, yet he encouraged Leo to take it when it was offered. That’s true friendship. The ability to root for your friends and enjoy their success even when it means you may not get what you want as a result is admirable. Paul didn’t just incidentally try for the part like so many others on the list who the studio asked for. He went all out in his attempt to land the role. The film, in which his father would probably have been most interested to see him take the lead, was perfect for Paul. His father wasn’t just a ‘fan’ of the Titanic history, he was an expert who traveled the world and taught others. As a result, Paul may have gone too far in his research.

A canonical knowledge of what steel the ship used wasn’t something they cared about in his audition. We can’t be sure without asking, but it certainly seems like he was probably upset by that loss. Still, he backed a friend without a second thought when he got the chance instead of Paul himself.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes things turn out exactly as they’re supposed to. Paul Rudd has our respect and admiration for what he did to make Titanic into the epic it was meant to be. Seeing years of Leo and Kate memes has been great. The fact that, even now, people still talk about the twenty-two-year-old movie like it came out last year is all the evidence we need. Paul did everyone a favor, especially Leonardo DiCaprio. Do you think Paul would have made a good Jack? Let us know in the comments.

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