Boogie Nights Director Confirms DiCaprio Turned Down Role For Titanic

Boogie Nights Director Confirms DiCaprio Turned Down Role For Titanic

In a recent podcast interview, Paul Thomas Anderson confirms that Leonardo DiCaprio turned down Boogie Nights to Make James Cameron’s Titanic.

In a recent podcast interview, Paul Thomas Anderson confirms the rumor that Leonardo DiCaprio turned down an offer for Boogie Nights to instead star in Titanic. Boogie Nights tells the tale of Eddie Adams (aka “Dirk Diggler”) as he rises from lowly nightclub dishwasher to major adult film star. Boogie Nights featured Hollywood stars such as Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Heather Graham. The movie was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Supporting Actor.


Also releasing in 1997 was James Cameron’s epic disaster film Titanic. The film stars DiCaprio opposite Kate Winslet, who together forge an unforgettable, societal class-transcending romance that screeches to a tragic halt as their ill-fated ship barrels towards the infamous iceberg. The massively successful film made DiCaprio a superstar. Around the same time of the casting for Titanic, rumors swirled that DiCaprio and fellow Basketball Diaries co-star Mark Wahlberg were grappling over a starring role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film, Boogie Nights. DiCaprio supposedly recommended Wahlberg for the Boogie Nights role, electing to make Titanic instead.

Related: The Dirk Diggler Story: Boogie Nights’ Prequel Explained (& How To Watch It)

As reported by The Playlist, Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson now confirms that DiCaprio turned down his film to make Cameron’s. The celebrated director recently appeared on an episode of the Smartless podcast and spoke about the film’s casting process. According to Anderson, DiCaprio spent a long time deciding whether or not to accept the Boogie Nights role but was ultimately swayed by the offer from Cameron to make Titanic. Read Anderson’s remarks below:

That is very true that I asked Leo to be in Boogie Nights, and he spent many, many months agonizing and debating about it. Ultimately, what I came to realize, about halfway into that long decision-making process, is that he had a choice to make—either to do Titanic or to do Boogie Nights, and he chose to do Titanic. Which, in the long run, catapulted him into this massive worldwide fame, but on the other hand, I think possibly—we laugh about it now—but he regrets missing the experience and doing it.

DiCaprio declining opened the door for Wahlberg to take a serious stab at acting while attempting to shed his Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch image. It undoubtedly worked, as Wahlberg’s dominant performance in Boogie Nights finally earned him critics’ respect and approval. Unlike DiCaprio, Wahlberg’s real-life rough past gave him an edge that likely better depicted Dirk Diggler’s rise and ultimate fall from grace in the porn industry. DiCaprio, at the time, still retained an innocent, youthful appearance that would have been harder to sell should he have taken on the Boogie Nights character.

All in all, things appear to have worked out. Both Wahlberg and DiCaprio have built monumental careers, and it will forever be a mystery if those decisions in the early days would have ultimately changed that fact. Still, it is fun to imagine what DiCaprio would have been like in the role of Dirk Diggler and how it could have shifted the impact of Boogie Nights as a whole. Either way, both films will go down as classics.

Next: Mark Wahlberg Says PTA’s Boogie Nights Made Him A Real Actor 

Source: The Playlist

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Chris Karl
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Chris is a passionate freelance writer-for-hire when he is not busy steadily fostering his obsession with film and television. As a recent addition to freelancing for Screen Rant, Chris ambitiously strives to make a name for himself in the content writing industry. When he’s not entirely wrapped up in a stimulating storyline, you can find Chris pretending to be a rock star on his guitar, elevating his home chef game, or figuring out his next travel destination.

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