A deeper-than-necessary look: Jeremy Sisto read for Leonardo DiCaprio's role in Titanic

I know, this is a post about Titanic. But hear me out for a moment, because it involves who wasn't cast in one of the lead roles. Jeremy Sisto, the intense, grumbly-voiced actor who is no stranger to delving into darker territory (really dark, see: Six Feet Under and Hideaway) as well as comedy (Suburgatory), played the role of Jack Dawson in Kate Winslet's screen test. You might recall that the role was eventually played by Leonardo DiCaprio, the towheaded dreamboat with the blue eyes that launched a thousand prom dresses in the late 1990s. While Sisto is way more believable as that weird guy who watches girls and sketches them without their knowledge, Titanic probably would not have been the box office smash it was if Jack had been taken in this direction.

After the jump, video of the screen test, and an in-depth analysis of how the real-life tragedy/fake romance of Titanic would have been different with Jeremy Sisto playing Jack.

The video below appears on the four-disc Blu-ray release of Titanic, set to hit shelves September 14, and it's all about how Winslet won her Academy Award-nominated role of Rose DeWitt Bukater. But we've all seen her do that before, so the much more interesting part of this screen test is Jeremy Sisto.

After an introduction by director James Cameron, we see Sisto doing typical "character" things — curious Jack, in an environment he's pretty sure he'd be immediately kicked out of if not for the girl who invited him, playing with anything in sight, especially things that will distort or enhance his vision (because he's an artist, you guys). Enter Miss Rose, Kate Winslet in all her innocent glory, playing the part that made her a blockbuster star. It looks like this audition video was a mishmash of a bunch of scenes between Jack and Rose, but it gave Winslet a good opportunity to show us who her version of Rose was. She's very effective, naturally.

And then there's Sisto, and he's interesting. He's a great actor, but he is a vastly different human being than Leonardo DiCaprio. For one thing, his Jack looks like someone who could handily strangle DiCaprio's Jack. For another, he is infinitely more convincing as an artist. Soft-spoken, a man of few words, mysterious and guarded, quietly confident. On the other hand, he seems more interested in Rose as a subject than as a girlfriend, at least in this scene. And that's acceptable, because Rose is the subject of this scene, this being Winslet's screen test and all. But as we know, Titanic isn't Titanic if Jack and Rose are merely head-over-heels interested in each other.

But what a contrast to DiCaprio's bright and sunny (and doomed) American go-getter, traveling the world, lucky to get his ticket back to the Midwest! Or New York! Or wherever his attractively spontaneous mood will take him! Sisto's Jack probably would have just snuck on the boat somehow after following some nice-looking woman on board, then sweet-talked anyone who tried to kick him off. Sweet-talked, or passively threatened. Because Sisto, while an excellent and entertaining actor, has a real knack for the potentially (and legitimately) creepy.

Here is the eight-minute video that won Kate Winslet her star-making role, but reminded everyone that Jeremy Sisto is just not the right flavor for this particular movie.

See, that Jack would have figured out a way to stay on that door in the freezing cold ocean rather than just give up on physics and life completely like Leo did. "I'll never let go, Jack." "Um, I wasn't planning on going anywhere, Rose. Now, scootch."

Kate Winslet 'Titanic' screen test with Jeremy Sisto [Geek Tyrant]