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Why Claire Danes Turned Down Working On This Iconic Disaster Film

Sometimes the role of a lifetime just isn't right for your life at the time. 

Claire Danes' career was taking off. Each new role seemed to lift her higher and higher. She had been a March sister in "Little Women," starred in the cult-favorite teenage TV series "My So-Called Life," and portrayed Juliet in Baz Luhrmann's stylized update on the Shakespeare classic "Romeo + Juliet." At the end of that run, she had an opportunity for the biggest part in the biggest movie in basically forever. 

She turned it down, as she explained to Dax Shepard and Monica Padman on their podcast "Armchair Expert" (transcribed via Vanity Fair).

It wasn't a done deal, she explained to Shepard and Padman, but there was a strong interest in her getting on board with this project. She ultimately withdrew from the running because it seemed too much like the movie she had just finished, only with a higher budget and higher stakes for her career. It does make us wonder what could have been, especially after realizing which film Danes is talking about.

Titanic wasn't right for Claire Danes

Claire Danes could have played Rose in James Cameron's mega-budget, record-shattering "Titanic." Let that sink in (no pun intended).

"But honestly, I'd just made this romantic epic with Leo in Mexico City ["Romeo + Juliet"], which is where they were going to shoot "Titanic," and I just didn't have it in me," Danes said in the interview.

Danes said that she and Leonardo DiCaprio shared a manager, so she felt she had some insight into his thought processes. When he decided to go for it and take the part, she thought, "I totally understand why you are doing it. And I'm not ready for that. And I think I really wasn't ready for it."

DiCaprio took the leap of faith, and by the time he came down, he was the king of the world. When she saw what happened to him in the aftermath of the film's release, Danes knew she had made the right decision. 

"I remember after that movie came out and he just went into another stratosphere," Danes said. "I went to the premiere of "The Man in the Iron Mask" [DiCaprio's first release after "Titanic"], and when he walked into the room the floor fell in his direction. Everybody in the room went toward him. It was a little scary. I think I may have sensed I was courting that."

Sounds like everyone involved made the right decision.