Reba McEntire Turned Down a Role in ‘Titanic’: Here’s Why and What to Know

by Jennifer Shea

Country star Reba McEntire is also an accomplished actress. And in 1996, she had the opportunity to play Molly Brown in James Cameron’s “Titanic.”

Reba McEntire Passed for All the Right Reasons

As fans of “Titanic” know, the role went to the actress Kathy Bates in the end. But McEntire had a good reason for passing up that chance. 

“Titanic” would ultimately win 11 Oscars. And it was the highest-grossing movie of all time up to that point. But even after “Titanic” became a blockbuster success, McEntire shows no signs of regretting her decision.

During an episode of “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” McEntire delved into her fateful choice.

“We were on tour and I had a lot of people on the payroll,” she explained. “And we had these three months already scheduled to do the movie. Then they got behind on scheduling and said, ‘No, we’re going to have to move it in this time.’ So, we couldn’t reschedule all the arenas and everything.”

Did it hurt a little when “Titanic” became so successful without her?, Cohen asked.

“Well, sure! Absolutely,” McEntire replied. “But you gotta take care of your people.”

A Talented Actress

Not only is McEntire a TV and movie star, but in fact, as she recalled in a recent Instagram post, she also starred in a Broadway production of “Annie Get Your Gun.”

“[Twenty] years ago today I made my Broadway debut as Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun!” McEntire posted to Instagram this past week. “I was so excited I could hardly stand it! #Broadway #AnnieOakley #AnnieGetYourGun”

McEntire killed it in the role. The New York Times gave her a glowing review, saying she “glides” into the part of Annie Oakley. Entertainment Weekly declared, “If she decides to take on Sally Bowles or, say, Rocky Horror’s Magenta next, we’re there.”

Variety even pronounced her a better fit for the role than Bernadette Peters, who had won a Tony Award for her performance in the musical, and admired McEntire’s “blazing, natural gusto.” 

But McEntire also brought a whole bunch of country music fans to Broadway, as American Theatre Wing president Roy Somlyo told Playbill.

“It would appear that she brought a new audience to Broadway – those who followed her career and came to see just her,” he said. “I think it’s very exciting that she was able to infuse the show with her great personality and talent. What’s most significant about it is that it should prove to other stars how tremendous it can be for their own careers — as well as for a Broadway show — if they replace a star in a production. I think other stars should take great note of this.” 

Besides “Reba,” her Golden Globe-nominated sitcom, McEntire has also appeared on such shows as “Last Man Standing,” “Diagnosis Murder” and “Frasier,” and in movies such as “The Little Rascals” and “Charlotte’s Web.”

Watch the Andy Cohen interview here: