When it comes to movies, some roles stand the test of time and become easily linked to their acting counterparts. Whether it’s The Terminator for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vito Corleone for Marlon Brando, or even Sean Connery as the original James Bond, the character is sometimes instantly iconic because of the actor playing the role. Sometimes a character can truly make or break an actor; it’s been a staple of Hollywood culture for decades.
One modern example would be Jack Dawson, the male lead from James Cameron’s Titanic, which was released in 1997 and became the highest-grossing movie of all time. When you think of the Oscar-winning actor, it’s probably the first character on his long CV that comes to mind. The role launched Leonardo DiCaprio to super stardom overnight, making him an instant A-list star and, as twenty years surpassed now confirms, one of this generation’s greatest actors. The role is instantly iconic, for the modern generation anyway.
But it could have been so different.
As fate would have it, DiCaprio got the role, but Hollywood funny man Paul Rudd recently confirmed that he also auditioned for the role of Jack, and although he was unsuccessful, he really wanted the part because of a deeply personal connection to his father.
During an appearance on The Late Late Show, Ant-Man actor Paul Rudd revealed that he auditioned for the role of Jack Dawson in Titanic. Speaking to host James Corden, he explained that while the role was a great career opportunity for him, it also meant something to him; his father was a member of the Titanic Historical Society and it was his profession for many years. Rudd also explained that his father had a deep passion for the legendary ship, and even traveled the world as a member of the society, acting as a tour guide in iconic locations associated with the Titanic all around the globe.
Rudd also confessed that he tried to use his knowledge of the ship to his advantage during the audition, explaining some of the details of the ship’s structure, and information on the people who built it, but it wasn’t to be. The role eventually went to Leonardo DiCaprio, who would build a stellar, Oscar-winning career on that very foundation. Rudd would muse with fellow guest Diane Lane about the incident, and Lane admitted she couldn’t imagine seeing anyone else but DiCaprio in the role of Jack, a remark agreed upon by the film’s casting director, according to Rudd. He didn’t get the part, but he still managed to act out the film’s most iconic scene with Diane Lane. The clip can be seen below.
There are many motivations and reasons for doing a movie nowadays, especially one with the potential of Titanic, but to do one based solely on a personal connection with a family member is rare, and a very heartwarming thing to do. It’s clear Rudd had a great bond with his father, but to audition for a role in a movie that would have meant so much to them both for an entire lifetime — it was a grand gesture.
Whether Paul Rudd regrets missing out on the role can be left to guesswork, but his trajectory has sparkled since, and as well as a solid comedy career, he is also another A-list actor to now be involved in the world of superheroes. He will reprise his role of Scott Lang aka Ant-Man in Captain America: Civil War when the film hits theaters on May 6.
[Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures]