Titanic gave a boost to the careers of its lead actors, and it could have featured a young Lindsay Lohan as well, but James Cameron decided against it – here’s what happened. James Cameron has become one of the biggest and most respected filmmakers in the industry, and he’s now often associated with big-budget projects, mostly from the sci-fi genre. However, one of his most successful movies isn’t from that genre, instead being a disaster drama movie: Titanic, which tells the true and tragic story of the sinking of the title ship.
Based on the accounts of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, Titanic tells the story of Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), two passengers from different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage. Over the course of four days, Jack and Rose developed a deep connection that put them at risk, but their relationship wasn’t meant to be, and while Rose was eventually rescued, Jack became one of the many victims of the sinking. Through both, viewers also got to meet different characters from their respective social classes, and among those was Jack’s “best girl”, Cora.
Throughout Titanic, viewers got a glimpse at the very different worlds of Rose and Jack, and there was a somewhat prominent minor character in Jack’s world named Cora, a little girl traveling in third class with her father. Cora is seen at different points in Titanic, such as before boarding (as she’s stunned by how big the ship is), waving goodbye as the ship sailed, and of course, dancing with Jack at a third-class party. Jack famously told her she was “still his best girl” before he started dancing with Rose, and unfortunately, Cora and her father didn’t make it out of the ship on time. Cora was played by Alexandrea Owens-Sarno, but it was almost played by none other than Lindsay Lohan.
According to different reports, Lindsay Lohan auditioned for the role of Cora and became the first choice for the role, but there was one minor detail that for James Cameron was very important, and it ultimately led to her being turned down: her red hair. Cameron reportedly thought Lohan’s natural red hair was too similar to Rose and her mother’s, so they went with another actress with different hair color. At the time Titanic entered production, Lindsay Lohan’s career was only getting started, as she was playing Alli Fowler in the soap opera Another World. Lohan made her big-screen debut the year after Titanic was released in Disney’s The Parent Trap, where she famously played twins Hallie and Annie. After that, Lindsay Lohan became one of the most sought out teen actresses, starring in movies like Freaky Friday, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, and Mean Girls.
As for Alexandrea Owens-Sarno, Titanic was her acting debut and her only known role. She took a break from acting after being constantly recognized on the street but enrolled in acting classes when she moved to Los Angeles after college, and she now works in improv and sketch comedy. Lindsay Lohan’s career might have been very different had she been cast as Cora in Titanic, and while her hair color isn’t really a valid excuse to not cast her, it’s important to point out that James Cameron is known for being a perfectionist, and clearly, her red hair was a big deal for him.