Forgotten R-Rated 90s Gem is The Only Role DiCaprio Regrets Turning Down

Forgotten R-Rated 90s Gem is The Only Role DiCaprio Regrets Turning Down
Image credit: Twentieth Century Fox, New Line Cinema

Instead, he chose to star in a little movie called Titanic.


  • DiCaprio was approached about the lead role in a film that's now a cult classic.
  • The movie was released in the same year as James Cameron's Titanic.
  • Leo may not have been as suited to the role as the actor who eventually landed the part.

Glossing over the fact that he's only won one Oscar in his entire career, Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the most celebrated actors of the last 30 years. After making his screen debut in 1989 as Glen in The New Lassie, he went on to star in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet before landing arguably his most iconic role as Jack Dawson in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic.

His other notable performances include:

  • Catch Me If You Can (DiCaprio's highest-rated film on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 96%)
  • The Revenant (for which he won his single Best Actor Oscar)
  • Killers of the Flower Moon

Throw in roles in Django Unchained, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Inception, and you might wonder if the Los Angeles-born movie legend has any regrets. Okay, you might wonder if he has any regrets other than appearing in The Beach and a rather poor adaptation of The Great Gatsby that was visually stunning but otherwise weak. But it turns out that one of the biggest regrets of his career is a movie role he didn't take.

Mark Wahlberg got the part after DiCaprio said he wasn't interested

Already an Oscar nominee for his role in What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Leonardo DiCaprio was well on his way to becoming a Hollywood star when he was approached to play Dirk Diggler in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights.

The film, which focuses on the burgeoning porn industry in 1970s Southern California, is a cult classic with a Tomatometer score of 93%. Great characters, a no-nonsense approach to examining the highs and lows of the industry, and a standout performance by Mark Wahlberg made Boogie Nights a hit and it's now considered a cult classic.

Forgotten R-Rated 90s Gem is The Only Role DiCaprio Regrets Turning Down - image 1

Despite turning it down, DiCaprio 'loved it'

Speaking to GQ in 2008, Leonardo DiCaprio said, 'Boogie Nights is a movie I loved and wish I could have done'.

So why did he turn it down? Well, it was simply that he wasn't familiar with the up-and-coming filmmaker's work at the time he met with Anderson to discuss the movie. But now he's definitely a fan.

'I'm a huge fan of Paul Thomas Anderson,' he admitted to ShowbizSpy, 'Boogie Nights is the biggest regret of my career'.

Although DiCaprio went on to confirm that he probably wouldn't have been in Titanic if he had chosen to do Boogie Nights. So if the biggest regret of your career is passing up an R-rated movie to star in one of the biggest movies of all time, you're doing just fine.

Things probably turned out for the best

Boogie Nights was a breakout movie for Mark Wahlberg and Paul Thomas Anderson. It was released the same year as Titanic, which grossed more than $2 billion and catapulted DiCaprio to superstardom. So it's hard to imagine him losing too much sleep over the movie he turned down, which grossed just $43 million.

There's also the question of whether it was the right role for the baby-faced actor. Let's face it, his youthful good looks made him perfect as the protagonist in Titanic, but would have made it difficult for him to portray a porn star at the time.

Wahlberg's more rugged appearance was much better suited to the role of Dirk Diggler, and undoubtedly added something to the movie that would have been missing had DiCaprio taken the role. Although he was never actually offered the part, and may not have been cast even if he had shown more interest.

Source: X, GQ.