Hollywood stars’ careers are full of “what might have been” stories. Roles they came close to getting, or roles they turned down, or roles that they couldn’t take due to scheduling conflicts. In some cases, this leads to regrets and a big one for Leonardo DiCaprio was when he was faced with a choice between the Paul Thomas Anderson movie Boogie Nights and James Cameron’s two billion dollar success story Titanic.
In 2008, DiCaprio confirmed that he turned down the starring role in PTA’s 1997 breakthrough movie Boogie Nights in order to do the epic romance movie instead. He had a meeting with Anderson about the role of ingenue porn star Dirk Diggler, which went to Mark Wahlberg. In DiCaprio’s defense, it’s understandable that he got spooked by the 26-year-old director’s lack of experience at the time. Boogie Nights was only Anderson’s second film after 1996’s little-seen Hard Eight.
Ironically, Wahlberg has since expressed regret for doing Boogie Nights, due to the fact he’s a devout Catholic. “I just always hope that God is a movie fan and also forgiving, because I’ve made some poor choices in my past. Boogie Nights is up there at the top of the list,” Wahlberg was quoted as saying by IndieWire.
“Boogie Nights is a movie I loved and I wish I would’ve done,” DiCaprio told GQ (via The Independent). Asked whether he’d reject Titanic instead if he could go back in time, DiCaprio was stumped. “I’m not saying I would have. But it would have been a different direction, career wise. I think they’re both great and wish I could have done them both. The truth is, if I’d not done Titanic, I wouldn’t be able to do the types of movies or have the career I have now, for sure. But it would have been interesting to see if I had gone the other way.” The disaster movie certainly didn’t end up being a disaster for DiCaprio or his career.
As we all know, both Leonardo DiCaprio and Paul Thomas Anderson’s careers survived and thrived, despite them not teaming up. Titanic was recently re-released in theatres for its 25th anniversary, which only added to its titanic-sized box office haul, and we considered how well it had stood the test of time in our Titanic review. Anderson’s next film is rumoured to begin filming in July 2023, and is said to star Joaquin Phoenix, Viggo Mortensen, Regina Hall, and… Leonardo DiCaprio.
While we wait to see if that is confirmed, check out our guide to the best drama movies.