It’s one of the most famous lines from one of the most iconic movies, but director James Cameron recently revealed that Jack Dawson shouting “I’m king of the world!” almost didn’t make it into 1997 classic Titanic.
All because Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t quite convinced by the line.
If you can’t quite recall the scene because it’s been over 20 years (yes… really, we’re old) since the film debuted on our screens, it goes something like this: Jack and his friend Fabrizio (played by Danny Nucci) are standing at the bow of the Titanic cruise liner at the start of the film, when Jack throws his hands in the air and shouts with pure unadulterated joy, “I’m king of the world.”
Watch the iconic scene:
Although DiCaprio’s line has become so iconic that almost everyone feels compelled to yell it whenever they find themselves at the end of a ship (along with the Kate and Leo embrace, of course), the line wasn’t even in the original script.
Speaking to BBC’s Movies That Made Me, Cameron shared: “It was made up on the spot. I was in a crane basket, and we were losing the light. I had tried this and we had tried that, tried this line and that line and it was just coming up snake eyes.”
That’s when Cameron had a light bulb moment.
“And I said, ‘All right, I’ve got one for you. Just say, ‘I’m the king of the world,’ and just spread your arms out wide and just be in the moment and just love it and just celebrate it and love it.’ And he goes, ‘What?’” he continued.
It seems DiCaprio didn’t quite like the line and Cameron had to keep badgering the star to just say it.
“I’m getting this over the walkie talkie. ‘I’m the king of the world,’ just say, ‘I’m the king of the world,’ but you’ve got to sell it! And he goes, ‘What?!’ I said, ‘Just f**king sell it.’,” Cameron said.
And well, we all know what happened next. DiCaprio said the line, he definitely sold it, and it’s gone down as one of the most iconic lines in film history.
But it seems Cameron was quite right in his view that only DiCaprio could have pulled off such a… cheesy line – a lesson that Cameron learnt at the 1998 Oscars.
When Cameron won the Academy Award for Best Director, he famously ended his speech by yelling “I’m king of the world” onstage. Cue, awkward laughter and a tiny smattering of applause.
It’s a moment that Cameron clearly still remembers, telling the BBC program: “The way he sells it, yes. Apparently, that’s the difference between myself and Leonardo, he was able to sell the line.”