5 roles in James Cameron’s movies that were perfectly performed (and who almost played them)
The most discussed aspects of James Cameron’s cinema are its large-scale action sequences and groundbreaking visual effects. But he’s also a masterful storyteller, and he usually picks the perfect actor to play each role.
Now that they’ve become icons, it’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Kate Winslet playing Rose DeWitt in Titanic or someone other than Linda Hamilton playing Sarah Connor in the Terminator franchise (or anyone other than Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the Terminator himself, for that matter). But they weren’t the first choice for the role.
5 Rose DeWitt Bukater In Titanic
Perfect Cast: Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet was an unknown when she was cast to play Rose in Titanic. She only managed to land the role because it was turned down by every A-lister it was offered to. But she ended up being the perfect choice.
Characteristically, Rose isn’t exactly an ordinary woman – she’s a wealthy socialite who grudgingly marries for money – so the relativity factor hinged on Winslet’s nuanced performance.
Almost Cast: Drew Barrymore
According to What Culture, Cameron’s first choice for the role of Rose in Titanic was Drew Barrymore. She was one of the biggest stars of the 90s, thanks to romantic comedies like The wedding singer and Never been kissed.
However, Barrymore didn’t think she was right for the role and turned it down. Before the role was offered to Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman turned it down.
4 The T-800 in the Terminator
Perfect Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger
It is impossible to imagine the Terminator franchise being about as successful without the participation of Arnold Schwarzenegger. First as a villain and then as an anti-hero, Schwarzenegger made the T-800 an unforgettable cinematic icon.
It might sound like a cheap joke to say that Schwarzenegger gave his best performance as an emotionless killer cyborg, but it’s not easy to sell the coldness of a machine in such a disturbing way.
Almost in the cast: JÃ¼rgen Prochnow
Before Cameron cast Schwarzenegger as the T-800, according to Empire, he considered the German-American actor JÃ¼rgen Prochnow, best known for his roles in Wolfgang Petersen Das Botte and that of David Lynch Dune.
Ironically, Prochnow was going to play Schwarzenegger himself in a film titled Watch Arnold Run on the actor’s political career in California. Roland Kickinger played the younger version of Schwarzenegger.
3 Jake Sully in Avatar
Perfect Cast: Sam Worthington
Although Cameron initially looked for a big star to play the lead role of Jake Sully in Avatar, according to Los Angeles Times, he chose Sam Worthington instead because the then-unknown actor would give Jake “a really real quality.”
Cameron added that Worthington “has that quality of being a guy you’d like to have a beer with, and he ultimately becomes a world-transforming leader.”
Almost in the cast: Matt Damon
Before Worthington was cast to star in Cameron’s sci-fi epic, the lead role in Avatar was offered to Goodwill huntingit’s Matt Damon. According to Deadline, Damon declined due to his commitment to the Bourne franchise.
The Bourne the films were a huge success, but the Avatar The offer Damon declined included a 10% stake in the film’s profits. Avatar by far became the highest grossing film of all time. Suffice to say that Damon’s hypothetical salary would have brought in a lot of money.
2 Jack Dawson in Titanic
Perfect Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio
Featured in Titanic launched Leonardo DiCaprio to the top of the A List, where he managed to stay for more than two decades. From Scorsese to Tarantino, DiCaprio has forged long-standing working relationships with some of the world’s greatest filmmakers.
The premise of this film is essentially “Romeo and Juliet on the Titanic, âso it made sense to cast the teenage idol who played Romeo Montague to spectacular effect a year earlier.
Almost in the cast: Johnny Depp
Cameron offered the role of Jack in Titanic to Johnny Depp before the casting of DiCaprio. According to What Culture, this was revealed by Depp in an interview with Howard Stern. He admitted he had “worked” through Cameron’s long screenplay.
Stars like Depp are offered the lead role in just about every big studio movie. Depp also reportedly turned down the roles of Neo, Ferris Bueller and Count Olaf.
1 Sarah Connor in Terminator
Perfect Cast: Linda Hamilton
Sarah Connor’s role in the Terminator the franchise is very similar to the role of Ellen Ripley in the Extraterrestrial franchise. She is presented as a quintessential woman, but ultimately emerges as a real badass.
Much like Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton did a fantastic job with this role. She nailed the transformation, fully convincing audiences as a stand-up waitress and a seasoned cyborg killer later. Together, these two iconic characters broke new ground for female action heroes.
Almost in the cast: Bridget Fonda
It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Hamilton playing Sarah, but according to What Culture, Cameron initially wrote the role with a different actor in mind, Bridget Fonda. He opened the casting search when Fonda turned it down.
Fonda was replaced by Tatum O’Neal, who was ultimately recast because she was deemed too young. Debra Winger won the role after a series of auditions, but turned down the offer. Glenn Close was chosen but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. Then fate prevailed and Hamilton took on the role.
NEXT: 5 Roles In Perfectly Performed Quentin Tarantino Movies (& 5 Actors Who Almost Played Them)
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