It’s one of the highest grossing – and most epic films of all time – but there are some things you may not have known about James Cameron’s heart breaking masterpiece.
1. Beloved Leo and Kate weren’t the first picks for the lead roles.
Titanic could have looked very different with studios wanting Mathew McConaughey to play Jack, but James Cameron insisted on Leonardo Dicaprio. Other actresses considered to play Rose included Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman, Madonna, Jodie Foster, Cameron Diaz and Sharon Stone.
2. Gloria Stuart, who played old Rose was the only person on set alive when the Titanic sunk in 1912.
She was also the oldest person, at 87, to be nominated for an Oscar.
3. Kate Winslet got pneumonia after filming the water scenes and almost quit production.
Kate was the only cast member to forgo a wet suit while filming the water scenes and almost quit production when she got pneumonia. Most of the scenes were filmed in pools with warmish water however the water used when Rose is looking for Jack in the flooded corridors of the ship was from the Pacific Ocean.
The scenes in the ocean after the ship has sunk also took place in a pool that was only 3 feet deep.
4. There actually was a J. Dawson on board the Titanic.
James Cameron discovered that there was a real J. Dawson who died on the Titanic after the script was finished. It was later revealed that the mystery Dawson was an Irishman who worked in the engine room. He is buried in Halifax with a gravestone, where multiple victims of the tragedy are buried and since he was discovered fans have been known to leave flowers and tributes.
5. James Cameron is the artist behind Jack’s drawings.
Although not surprising that Leonardo Dicaprio isn’t the one responsible for Jack’s drawings, you may be delighted to find that Director James Cameron is. It’s his hands that are filmed sketching Rose and he is also the talent behind the rest of Jack’s sketches.
6. ‘I want you to draw me like one of your French girls…’
One of the most famous and memorable scenes in the film was also the first shot, way back when Kate and Leo weren’t the besties they are today and had just met. To break the ice and to dilute the awkwardness that comes with baring your hot bod to a stranger whilst being filmed, Kate flashed Leo on set prior to filming.
Leo was then so nervous during that scene that instead of saying “lie on that couch,” he said “lie on that bed, I mean couch” and it was adorable so James Cameron kept it.
7. The piece of wood that Rose floats on is based on an actual artefact.
If you find yourself screaming at the television for Rose to shove over every time you watch the movies tragic finale and want to speculate more as to whether 2 people could have fit on that piece of wood, you could check it out in person. The wood that Rose floats on is based on an actual artefact that survived the sinking and is on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Bonus: Other aspects of the film that were true IRL-
- Cameron gave over a hundred of the extras actual names of passengers and scenarios.
- Jack’s description of the water being “like a thousand knives,” is based on a quote from a Titanic survivor.
- If your tears were jerked by the old couple who died in bed together whilst water flooded the room- they were based on real people. They were Ida and Isidor Strauss, the owners of Macy’s department store in New York. Ida was offered a seat on a life boat but instead chose to stay with her husband saying, “as we have lived together, so we shall die together.”
8. The cast and crew ended up high on the final day of shooting after a chowder spiking incident.
A few unknown people spiked the clam chowder served to the cast and crew with PCP, otherwise known as angel-dust, symptoms of which include vivid hallucinations, landing 80 people in hospital.
9. ‘I’m the king of the world,’ was totally improvised.
Hats off to Leo for winging one of the most famous and memorable lines in cinematic history. The line was completely improvised, as were many others in the film as cameron was a big fan of ad-libbing. The scene where Rose thanks Jack for saving her and he teaches her to ‘spit like a man,’ was almost entirely improvised. Kate Winslet then took inspiration from this when Rose tries to escape from Cal while the ship is sinking. She spits in his face and Billy Zane (who plays Cal) was not informed of this spontaneous script change.
Still one of the best ever screen couples from an amazing movie.