Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio were two young, rising stars whose lives changed the moment director James Cameron chose them to play Titanic's doomed lovers, Rose and Jack.

But in the years after the film came out both resisted the urge to cash in on their massive fame and sign onto whatever project would bring in the most money. In honour of the film's 3D re-release this month — 15 years after it first hit theatres in 1997 — we look at how making one of the most successful and beloved films in history changed the actors' lives without compromising their careers.






Watch James Cameron talk about returning to Titanic and converting the movie to 3D

titanic, leonardo dicaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio

PRE-TITANIC

He was a 22-year-old acting phenom who played troubled young men with brilliant intensity in films such as The Basketball Diaries (1995), Total Eclipse (1995) and Romeo + Juliet (1996). DiCaprio initially said no to the role. Once he agreed, the young actor wanted Jack to be darker, more brooding, but Cameron wanted a young Jimmy Stewart. Cameron ultimately convinced DiCaprio to play the part his way.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Titanic's incredible success meant DiCaprio was suddenly a heartthrob for girls and women everywhere. It took a toll on him. "A lot of the attention was on me because of the teenage girls who repeatedly went to see the movie," he told Esquire (March 2010). "I had the blond hair, and I was Jack Dawson, this heroic figure. So I set up everything in my personal life to rebel against that image in order to strip it down. I had a lot of fun stripping it down. But, ultimately, that knocked me a few rungs down the ladder."

POST-TITANIC CAREER PATH

DiCaprio hardly worked for two years after Titanic's release (he shot a cameo as a partying movie star in Woody Allen's Celebrity) even though he was offered every heartthrob role in Hollywood. Instead, he decided he'd only work with directors he admired in films that challenged him. From 2002 onwards he's made four movies with Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and Shutter Island), and pics with Steven Spielberg (Catch Me if You Can), Christopher Nolan (Inception) and Clint Eastwood (J. Edgar).

AWARDS METER

Titanic earned 14 Oscar nominations, but DiCaprio was overlooked. And despite the fact he's made some heavy-hitting films since, he's only earned two Best Actor Oscar nominations (for The Aviator and Blood Diamond) without ever winning.

AN ENDURING FRIENDSHIP

While DiCaprio wines, dines and dumps supermodels at a swift pace, he knows Winslet is a woman who'll always be with him. "We have been a great support mechanism for each other," he said in an interview with the Daily Mail (January 2009). "We both started when we were young and have always been great friends ever since Titanic. We have always been there for each other."

titanic, kate winslet

Kate Winslet

PRE-TITANIC

The 21-year-old Winslet — who, like DiCaprio, was a former child actor — had turned heads with her work in Heavenly Creatures (1994) and Sense and Sensibility (1995). The English actor got hold of Cameron's Titanic script treatment and was desperate to play Rose. Her screen test was great, but Cameron wasn't sold. Then Winslet got creative, sending him a single rose with a card signed "From Your Rose," and actually phoning him, pleading for the role. She told him, "I am Rose! I don't know why you're even seeing anyone else!" She got the part.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Although the attention thrust on Winslet post-Titanic was less than what DiCaprio faced, it was still overwhelming. In a December 2008 Entertainment Weekly article she recalled, "Jesus, I was seriously ill-equipped emotionally to be able to cope with all of that stuff."

POST-TITANIC CAREER PATH

Winslet landed her second Oscar nomination for playing Rose, and then seemed determined NOT to capitalize on her success. In the years immediately following Titanic she chose roles in small, art-house films such as Holy Smoke (1999), Enigma (2001) and Iris (2001) rather than Hollywood blockbusters, leading to her reputation as an actor who's attracted to interesting material rather than one who's lured by box-office returns.

AWARDS METER

Since landing that Best Actress nomination for Titanic, Winslet has gone on to earn four more Oscar nods (for a total of six nominations before the age of 35). She finally won her first statue as Best Actress for 2008's The Reader.

AN ENDURING FRIENDSHIP

Winslet and DiCaprio reunited for 2008's 1950s-set domestic drama Revolutionary Road, directed by Winsle'ts husband, Sam Mendes. When Winslet and Mendes split in February 2010, she turned to her pal for support. "He knows me better than anyone else in the world," she told British Vogue (April 2011). "Lots of male friendships begin as a cheeky snog. Or a little undercurrent of flirtation. But Leo and I? No. He's my rock. I don't know what the f--k I would have done if I hadn’t had him."

leonardo dicaprio, james cameron, kate winslet, titanic

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