Claire Danes Has 'Zero Regret' About Turning Down 'Titanic' Opposite Former Co-Star Leonardo DiCaprio
By Rachel McRady
Claire Danes let go... very quickly.
The 40-year-old Homeland star opened up on the new episode of Dax Shepard's Armchair Expert podcast about how she came close to mega-stardom at an early age when she turned down the role of Rose in Titanic that ultimately went to Kate Winslet.
"I think I did," she said of being offered the part. "I'm not entirely clear on that. There was strong interest."
At the time the potential offer came through, Danes had just finished the 1996 Baz Luhrmann film Romeo + Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio, and the parallels were too much for her.
"I had just made this romantic epic with Leo in Mexico City, which is where they were going to shoot Titanic!" she said. "And I just didn't have it in me!"
She recalled DiCaprio driving donuts around the parking lot of their mutual manager's office when she was there, saying he was "wrestling" with the decision of whether or not to do Titanic.
"And he just looked up at me and said, 'I'm doing it! I'm doing it!'" she recalled. "And I could see he wasn't sure. But he was like, 'F**k it, I gotta do this thing.' And I looked down at him, and I was 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. And I remember after that movie came out... and he just went into another stratosphere."
Danes said that she saw DiCaprio after his blockbuster role and noticed a shift in how people treated him.
"I think I may have sensed that I was courting that [level of fame] or I was proximate to that... and I just couldn't do it. I didn't want it," she shared, adding that she has "zero regret" about not making the James Cameron film.
"I was just really clear about it. I wasn't conflicted," she insisted.
As for whether or not there was any real-life truth to the chemistry Danes and DiCaprio shared onscreen, the actress noted that she was a "big Leo fan" and added that there was something "crushy" going on between the two.
"That was just never going to happen," she explained of a romance, mentioning her own youth. "I didn't know how to go about that... we're really different people."
Titanic wasn't the only opportunity Danes turned down to reunite with DiCaprio. In a 2013 issue of Vogue, she revealed that she got offered the part of DiCaprio's secretary in the 2011 J. Edgar Hoover biopic, with DiCaprio playing the title role. At the time she had also been offered her now-iconic part in Homeland.
"I was like, 'Do I want to play the secretary to the boss man or do I want to be the boss man?'" she told the magazine at the time. "I want to be the boss man. ... I was scared of it [the Homeland role], and I thought, OK, right, that means I have to do it."