Titanic features one of the most known cinematic love stories of all time, and it almost had a very different male lead. While that's incredibly hard to imagine anyone other than Leonardo DiCaprio playing the main heartthrob, Matthew McConaughey almost played Jack in Titanic — in fact, he really wanted the part. That's right, Jack Dawson could have been a Southern gentleman instead of a sweet boy from the Midwest.
During an appearance on the Nov. 3 episode of the Awards Chatter podcast, hosted by The Hollywood Reporter, McConaughey spoke about his Titanic dreams while promoting his most recent film, White Boy Rick. The Academy Award winning actor revealed that he actually made it pretty far into the casting process for the iconic 1997 film. “I went and auditioned,” said McConaughey. “I wanted that. I auditioned with Kate Winslet. Had a good audition. Walked away from there pretty confident that I had it. I didn’t get it. I never got offered that.” To be in the running for something you really wanted, the not get it can be crushing. And it must have stung him to see Titanic dominating at the box office after missing out on the part. (The movie was the highest grossing film worldwide in 1998 and held the title of the highest grossing film ever until Avatar was released in 2009.)
Part of his sour feelings about not getting the role came from the fact that he might have been offered the part, only to have missed out due to a miscommunication with his agent. “And as I’ve said before, not even half jokingly if it’s true, if that was an offer and it didn’t come to me, I’ve got to go back and go, ‘I’ve got to meet in an alley with that agent,'" he said on the podcast. The actor had stated something similar to Larry King in 2012, when a rumor was circulating that he was offered the role of Jack (which, as far as he knows, isn't true; he just auditioned). "I never got offered that role, and if I did get offered that role I'm going to find that agent, because we lost a bunch of money," he said at the time.
This isn't the first time fans have heard that McConaughey could have been the ill-fated Jack Dawson in Titanic. Back in 2017, while on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Kate Winslet, who of course played Rose in the film, also revealed that she had read with McConaughey. “I auditioned with Matthew [McConaughey], isn’t that weird?” Winslet said. “Never said that in public before. I auditioned with Matthew, which was completely fantastic. It just wouldn’t have been the whole ‘Jack and Rose, Kate and Leo’ thing.” This is very true: there's just no denying DiCaprio and Winslet's chemistry, and the two became an iconic on screen couple not just because they're great actors, but because they're great together.
Besides, the whole acting thing ended up working out for McConaughey, anyway. He also went on to star in his own iconic romances (How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, anyone?) and even won an Oscar for Best Actor in Dallas Buyers Club back in 2014. So, although we never saw him scream that he's "King of the world!" we at least got "Alright, alright, alright," and that's really all one could ever ask for.