British thespian Kate Winslet scored an Oscar nomination and critical raves early in her career, and films like Sense and Sensibility and Hamlet earned her speedy acclaim as a talented, compelling actress. It took a little more time for American audiences to fall in love with her, but Hollywood casting directors started taking notice of her abilities, and while filming Hamlet, Winslet heard about Titanic, a James Cameron-directed historical drama that required a young leading lady.
To win the role of Rose, Winslet faced some obstacles. Cameron had wanted a better-known actress for the part, and favored Winona Ryder, Claire Daines and Gwyneth Paltrow over Winslet. She secured an audition and went on camera with actor Jeremy Sisto, impressing Cameron with her performance; still, he worried that her voluptuous look wouldn't fit the character. Winslet agreed to audition again, this time with Leonardo DiCaprio, whom Cameron considered for the male lead. The director spotted the chemistry between the duo, and cast them both. Titanic would go on to become an enormous hit—and Winslet a major star.