Titanic: It’s a movie that defined the 1990s, made its lead actors bonafide movie stars, and got a certain Celine Dion song stuck in our heads to this very day. The film has had such a powerful impact on our pop culture, that it has even been named a film-laureate for the 2017 National Film Registry. That’s basically the Hollywood’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize!

We could go on and on about Titanic’s legacy, but we think that the longstanding popularity that the film has experienced can be attributed to one, hot, scintillating thing—Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s on-screen chemistry. Those two really knew how to light up that screen!

So, when we were watching Kate Winslet being interviewed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert the other night, we were amazed to discover that she and Leo were nearly never given the opportunity to star in one of the greatest love stories of our time because—and we’re not kidding you here—Matthew McConaughey was higher on the list for the role.

Yup, THAT Matthew McConaughey…

Now, it’s important to note that McConaughey wasn’t in the same class of actors in 1997 that he is today. Long before he wowed audiences in True Detective or won his Oscar for Dallas Buyer’s Club, he was just that funny stoner dude from Dazed and Confused.

At the time, he only had a few big screen credits to his name—a stark contrast to the actor who ended up taking the role of Jack right from under him, Leonardo DiCaprio. That being said, Paramount Studios wanted McConaughey for the film, but James Cameron—thankfully!—convinced the powers that be that Leo was right for the role.

Titanic’s money-making legacy

There’s no way to look back and remember 1997 without mentioning Titanic. Before Avatar was released, Titanic was the highest-grossing film of all time—to this day, it has earned well over $2 billion, more than Frozen, Finding Nemo, and any of the movies in the entire Harry Potter franchise.

After its release, the film went on to win 10 Academy Awards in 1998, including Best Picture and Best Director. Winslet was nominated for Best Actress, but her co-star, DiCaprio, was snubbed.

It wouldn’t be until 2016 that the actor finally got his golden statue, a win that probably wouldn’t have ever happened if he hadn’t cemented his movie star status in Titanic nearly two decades earlier.

We’re never going to be able to watch this movie again without picturing Matthew McConaughey in Leo’s role! To learn even more about this fascinating casting detail as well as what it was like for Kate Winslet to film that infamous “sinking” scene, be sure to watch the video below!

We’d love to hear your take on this bizarre story. Do you think that Matthew McConaughey would have done well in Titanic? Do you think another actor should have been cast? What’s the next movie that should be added to the National Film Registry?