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A Behind The Scenes Look Onboard the Set of James Cameron’s Masterpiece, Titanic

Over 20 years have passed since the release of James Cameron’s feature-length film based on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic in 1912. The retelling of that tragic night and the unlikely romance formed onboard managed to capture the hearts of audiences and has never let go since. Titanic won 11 Oscars including awards for Best Picture and Best Director and introduced the world to some of Hollywood’s most shining stars.

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Image: The Design Inspiration

But telling this story and conveying the heartbreaking disaster that followed was not easy. Luckily the cast and crew were left in the hands of James Cameron, who is notorious for his hands-on commitment to perfection. Bringing his vision to life and witnessing history in the making was an incredible experience for all those involved. Here are some of the most fascinating, resurfaced discovering behind the making of Titanic.

Frozen Makeup

While the stars did a great job pretending to be stranded in the freezing cold Atlantic Ocean, they were, in fact, sitting in a tank constructed in the studio. In order to make the actors and extras look like they were freezing in the waters, makeup artists had to get creative.

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Image: Diply

To give the actors that frozen look, makeup artists had to apply powder on their faces that crystallized when exposed to water. This gave the illusion of water forming into ice on their skin. In order to make their hair and clothes appear iced over, they applied wax.

A Nervous DiCaprio

It would seem that DiCaprio was a ball of nerves on the day that he had to draw Winslet “like one of his French girls.” So much so that he ended up botching one of his lines. In the script, he was supposed to say “lie on that couch.” However, the awkward butterflies got the best of him.

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Image: We Heart It

Instead of the line in the script the young actor only managed to say “over on the bed…the couch” instead. James Cameron enjoyed the authenticity in his voice so he decided to keep it in the movie. We say that was a good call considering how understandably nervous Jack seemed in the movie.

How Times Have Changed

In addition to building an exact miniature replica of the ship itself, the visual effects team also created miniature interior sets in order to get certain angles right during the sinking scenes. Today these methods are considered to be relatively old school as most action movies rely much more heavily on CGI technologies.

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Image: American Cinematographer

Visual effects director Erik Nash explained that today, they probably wouldn’t have relied so heavily on miniatures but would have created the rooms and the ship digitally. “Back then we knew we had our hands full digitally — just doing computer-generated water and populating the miniature ships with people — so we determined to do what we could with miniatures and that was my role,” said Nash.

Cast Parties Galore

Working under James Cameron’s watchful eye was stressful, to say the least, especially for the young and rowdy cast members. They had to work long grueling hours in order to perfectly nail down those iconic scenes. As you can imagine, the cast therefore utilized any downtime they had to blow off steam.

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Image: Screen Slam

Danny Nucci, who played Jack Dawson’s third-class companion, Fabrizio, revealed that in order to counter the stress while filming, the cast would throw some pretty wild parties on set. Whenever they were given a break, the cast and crew would gather together to drink and let loose.

Root Beer on Set

While taking breaks between scenes, the cast was more than happy to kick back and have a few drinks together, however, while they were filming things were a bit different. Naturally, in the scenes where the characters are seen drinking, the cast members were not actually drinking themselves.

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Image: American Cinematographer

In those scenes, where we see Jack and Rose taking down beers and dancing the night away, they aren’t actually drinking beer. Instead, the cast was given root beer. We assume that this similarity in look and color is how the popular soft drink earned its name in the first place.

All About Perspective

There were many creative strategies put in place in order for Titanic to seem as massive as it was in reality. One of the big challenges that went with this was making the engine room look as immense and intimidating as the real deal. The engines in the actual Titanic were each 63 feet long and weighed 720 tons.

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Image: American Cinematographer

Naturally, recreating this required a little bit of forward-thinking. Leave it to Cameron and his team to come up with the most clever solution. To give the illusion that the engine room was just as large in the movie, they had to cast extras that were only five feet tall. The shorter stuntmen would, therefore, make the props appear much larger.

Timing is Everything

Jame’s Cameron felt very connected to the story of Titanic and wanted to reference the real event as often as he could throughout the film. This included having specific people that were on the ship represented. To go the extra mile, Cameron also timed the movie so that it would perfectly reflect the time it took for the real ship to sink

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Image: American Cinematographer

Cameron made the entire movie, not including the opening credits and present-day scenes, add up to a total of two hours and forty minutes. This was the exact time it took for the real Titanic to sink in 1912. Not only that but the collision with the iceberg both in real life and in the movie lasted exactly 37 seconds.

Planet Ice

It is customary when filmmakers are working on a high profile movie to come up with a code name for the cast and crew to use in order to avoid any press attention. This would also keep any spoilers from getting out to the fans.

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Image: American Cinematographer

For Titanic, the code name that they were asked to use was “Planet Ice.” A title that surely made certain science-fiction fanatics more excited than the actual movie title. Despite their let down, the rest of us are pretty happy that “Planet Ice” was left as a code name.

One Chance to Get it Right

There was one specific scene in the making of Titanic that needed an extra amount of thought and care. When filming the grand staircase getting destroyed, Cameron and his team only had one shot to get it right. In order to do so, set designers did their best to arrange the scene for the script to work as planned.

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Image: Irish Mirror

Building the room was a huge expense and once it was destroyed, there was no turning back. There was no way they could afford the time or money to rebuild it again so the pressure was on for it to be flawless. Luckily, everything went to plan. At least as far as we can tell.

Building The Titanic

Recreating the RMS Titanic was no easy feat. Especially when you’re someone like James Cameron and you want to get every detail as accurate as possible. To get the job done, James Cameron called on White Star Line, the British shipping company that was responsible for building the real ship back in 1912.

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Image: American Cinematographer

Not only did they create the ship’s replica for the movie but they also recreated the original furniture and decor. The ship was created a long way from British waters. White Star Line worked their magic off the coast of Mexico.

A Heartbreaking Love Story

Although the love story between Jack and Rose was created especially for the film, Cameron did make sure to include characters and storylines that represented real people from the actual Titanic voyage. One of the most heartbreaking examples is included in the scene that pans through the sinking ship, showing the various passengers as they realize their fate.

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Image: Hype Galore

The elderly couple shown holding each other on the bed while their room begins to flood is actually based on real passengers, Ida and Isidor Straus. They were the owners of Macy’s department store in New York but unfortunately did not survive the tragedy. Ida was offered a seat on a lifeboat but turned it down saying, “as we have lived together, so we shall die together.”

Winslet Never Auditioned

When 20-year-old Kate Winslet heard about the role of Rose, she was filming Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. Although she felt the role was meant for her, she didn’t actually think Cameron would come through. “Suddenly, I’m told that James Cameron wanted to fly me to L.A. for me to go on camera for Titanic,” Kate recalls. It seems, she didn’t even need to audition in front of the director.

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Image: Entertainment Weekly

“I’m thinking, ‘Well, hang on, where’s the audition bit?’ Because the bit where you sit and in your own clothes with the casting director — you know, you never meet the director at that point… and you’re put on camera, that bit suddenly got skipped.” Instead, She was asked to prepare a few scenes and was decked out in costume for a series of camera tests. “It was a proper camera test — a proper, proper one in ways that I wish they still did,” she said. After that, she got the gig.

Fact-Checking Himself

One of the challenges when making the film was the fact that no one knows exactly how the ship descended into the ocean. In order to understand if his film got it right, Cameron conducted a test with a model ship in a tank.“We can never prove what actually happened,” Cameron said when discussing this challenge. “We can only prove what might have happened.”

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Image: USA Today

Following his test, Cameron concluded that the film’s depiction of the ship sinking was not completely accurate. “We found out you can have the stern sink vertically and you can have the stern fall back with and a big splash, but you can’t have both,” he says. “So, the film is wrong on one point or the other. I tend to think it’s wrong on the fall back of the stern because of what we see at the bow of the wreck.”

Enya Missed The Boat

When working on the first stages of creating Titanic, James Cameron was actually hoping that Irish singer-songwriter Enya would write the score for the film. However, for whatever reason, Enya rejected the offer when the director approached her.

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Image: NPR

It was then that Cameron hired James Horner instead, who also composed the music for Cameron’s 1986 movie Aliens. Apparently Cameron and Horner had some unfinished beef since last working together which is why he was not the first pick. Luckily, they were able to put all that aside for the sake of making movie magic.

Honoring Molly Brown

As mentioned, some of the characters depicted in the movie were based on real people that were aboard the RMS Titanic. One key individual was played by iconic actress, Kathy Bates. Bates played the role of Margaret Brown, famously known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

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Image: IMDb

As the film depicts, Brown was an American socialite and a first-class passenger on the ship. But there’s more to Brown than the film reveals. Brown was a key person in helping load the lifeboats as the Titanic began to sink. She also helped lead her boat to safety by encouraging the women on board to row until help arrived.

Leaving Titanic Uncut

Titanic is known for many things, one of which being its length. The movie from start to finish is a total of three hours and thirty minutes. Back in the 90s, this took two VHS tapes to fit the whole film. When in the production phase of the movie, many executives were concerned about the length.

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Image: Yahoo

They were concerned that people would not agree to sit through those three hours and urged Cameron to cut it short. Cameron, dedicated to his vision, refused to make any cuts and asserted that if he was forced to make the film shorter, he would quit the project.

Getting Sea Sick on Set

During one of the nights shooting in Nova Scotia, Canada, the cast and crew were working well into the evening and were served dinner on set. On the menu that evening was clam chowder. Unfortunately, someone thought that it would be fun to lace the chowder with PCP which caused 80 people on set to fall ill.

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Image: Vanity Fair

While some individuals, such as Cameron were able to puke out their food in time, about 50 people were sent to the hospital. Some cast members, including Bill Paxton, who played treasure hunter Brock Lovett, reported feeling fatigued for weeks following.

Mirror Games

James Cameron and his crew had to employ several creative techniques in order to make it seem like the characters were actually aboard the RMS Titanic. This included forced perspective shots and other strategies to change the way the set was perceived on film. One such technique was used in the boiler room scene.

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Image: GraphicsPedia

In order to make the room itself seem more realistic and that of an actual ship, the set designers positioned several mirrors that created the illusion that there were twice the amount of boilers than there actually were. The set only had three boilers but due to the mirrors, the film appears to include six.

100 Years Young

One essential member of the Titanic cast and crew was actress Gloria Stuart. Stuart offered a very unique perspective on set as she was the only person there that was actually alive during the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912.

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Image: The Wrap

When playing the role of present-day Rose in the film, Stuart was 86 years old. Her character, however, was meant to be 100 so the actress had to wear makeup to appear older. Stuart passed away in 2010, at the age of 100, the same age as Rose was in the film.

Cameron’s Easter Egg

Most of us have seen Titanic countless times since it’s release however there might be one slight detail that even the most die-hard fans haven’t noticed. As it turns out, Cameron actually left an easter egg in the final scene, where Rose is ascending the grand staircase in what appears to be a dream or memory.

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Image: Titanic Screenshot

In the scene, as Rose approaches Jack waiting in the staircase, he greets her by extending his hand out to take hers. You’ll notice that the clock behind Jack reads 2:20 AM. This is the exact time that the Titanic sank all those years ago.

A Titanic Sized Budget

Titanic was no easy film to put together. Not only did it take a ton of time, effort, creativity, talent and ambition from Cameron and the rest of the cast and crew, it also took a ton of money. The film was such an expensive endeavor that the overall cost ended up exceeding the cost of building the actual RMS Titanic back in 1912.

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Image: VFX Blog

After adjusting for inflation to 1997 dollars, the ship cost around $150 million to construct. That is about three-quarters of what it cost to make the film. Luckily, all that paid off. Titanic was the first film to ever cross the billion-dollar mark in earnings.

Breaking The Ice

The first time that Leo and Kate met was the start of a very beautiful friendship. Kate, knowing that she would eventually have to film an imminent scene with her new costar decided she was going to break the ice early on.

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Image: Twitter / Cine & Geek

When she first met Leonardo, she lifted up her shirt and flashed him. Since the nude scene was filmed very early on in the production stages, we can’t blame her for wanting to get the awkwardness out of the way as soon as possible.

Unlikely Friendships

It’s no secret that James Cameron is especially strict in his directing style. However, there was one actress on the set of Titanic that managed to find his soft side. Gloria Stuart, who played the present-day Rose was held at particularly high regard by the director.

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Image: KARE

Cameron even had a nickname for Stuart. During his time filming with her, he would call her “Herr Director.” A nickname she earned due to her German level work ethic. Cameron could not help but appreciate her and he did not keep it a secret.

Tuxedos, Hot Dogs & Hot Tubs

In addition to the wetsuits that the actors wore to stay warm in the freezing cold water, there were also hot tubs on set for the actors to warm up between takes. When actor Billy Zane, who played Rose’s fiance Cal, spoke about life on set he divulged some funny details about these hot-tubs.

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Image: Her Moments

In an interview, Zane spoke about how the cast would casually sit in these tubs even while wearing their 1912 costumes. He also mentioned that hot dogs were often served on set. He said, “then someone walks by and you just reach into a basket and you’re noshing on a hot dog in a tux in a hot tub, just deadpan, without any reaction, like this is completely normal.”

Keeping The Fans Happy

Titanic was such a success after its release that theaters even had trouble keeping up with the demand. To avoid letting the fans down, many theaters around the world decided to keep the movie running longer than the usual four weeks.

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Image: ABC News

Not only that but some cinemas even needed to request replacement reels from Paramount since their originals had worn out from overuse. Titanic was one of the first movies to be released on VHS while still playing in theaters.

J.Dawson Was a Real Person

While Jack and Rose were fictional characters created for the movie, it turns out that there really was a J. Dawson on the Titanic voyage. However, James Cameron had no idea about this when he set out to write the script. Unfortunately, the real Dawson did not survive the tragedy either.

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Image: ScreenSlam

He is now buried in Nova Scotia and his gravesite has become somewhat of a tourist attraction. Following the movie’s release, fans have flocked to Nova Scotia to visit the place where the real J. Dawson lays to rest. Many even go as far as to leave flowers and notes for the fictional character portrayed by DiCaprio.

Quoting Survivors

When Rose and Jack first meet in the film, Jack is tasked with convincing a distraught Rose not to jump off the ship. If you recall, in order to persuade her to take his hand and come back down to safety, Jack tells Rose a story from his childhood.

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Image: Titanic Screenshot

In the story, he tells Rose about a time he went ice fishing with his father and he fell into the freezing cold water. He described it saying it felt like “being stabbed with a thousand knives all over your body.” Well, it turns out that line was actually a direct quote from a Titanic survivor who described their experience when the Titanic sank into the Atlantic.

No Bathroom Breaks

Cameron was under a lot of pressure to stick to the filming schedule in order for the movie to be released on time. This meant he had to be very strict when it came to timing. Some scenes, which took longer to perfect than others required him to set some pretty extreme ground rules.

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Image: Twitter / Quick Take

When filming the lifeboat scenes, the cast and crew were especially pressed for time. So much so that Cameron did not even allow bathroom breaks. He threatened to fine anyone who left the set to use the restroom. Instead, the stars were instructed to break the age-old rule of not peeing in the pool.

A Real 1912 Wardrobe

Cameron’s commitment to authenticity did not stop at the props and script. The costume department was also advised to pull all the stops when it comes to historical accuracy. To achieve this, it took them nearly a year to create the clothing for the entire cast.

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Image: Titanic Screenshot

Some of the garments used in the film were actually original pieces from the 1912 era. Despite the clear fragility of these vintage outfits, Cameron did not seem to mind putting them at risk for damage. The cast members had to enter the icy cold water in full costume.

No Wet Suit for Winslet

In order to make the studio depiction of the Atlantic Ocean as authentic as possible, the tanks on set were actually filled with real, freezing cold ocean water. To fight the cold when filming those scenes, the cast and crew wore wet suits under their clothes.

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Image: ScreenSlam

Kate Winslet, however, was the only member of the cast and crew who opted out of wearing the wet suit. Her reaction when first entering the water in the film is the real thing. The actress even came down with pneumonia after filming her scenes in the water.

Use of Miniatures

Many of the scenes that included the ship itself required the use of miniature replicas, the biggest of which measured more than 13 meters long. When comparing to the 269-meter-long RMS Titanic, it’s amazing that these replicas were so convincing on-screen. Part of the reason was Cameron’s commitment to historical accuracy.

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Image: American Cinematographer

Visual effects director Erik Nash spoke about this saying that the replicas were designed to be historically accurate down to the smallest detail. Building these replicas was not easy either as they were based on the Titanic’s actual construction plans.

Real Stories Onboard

One of the main reasons Titanic was such a major success was due to James Cameron’s commitment to making everything as authentic as possible. One of his strategies for achieving this was making sure that every single cast member had their own narrative.

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Image: IMDb

All the minor roles, as well as the extras, were given their own storyline, many of which were based on real survivors. This is clearly exemplified in one specific scene where were see a father lift his two young girls onto a lifeboat and telling them “it’s only for a little while.” This is based on a real testimony provided by one of the girls who survived the sinking.

Three Feet of Ocean

When filming the scenes where the passengers are left stranded in the ocean, it’s safe to assume that the production cast and crew did not actually take their cameras to the middle of the Atlantic. Instead, they brought the ocean to them.

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Image: ScreenSlam

In order to recreate the freezing ocean, set designers constructed a 350,000-gallon tank filled with water. The water might have looked deep on camera but in reality, it was only three feet deep so there was actually no swimming necessary at all when filming.

No Time for Drawing Lessons

While Leonardo DiCaprio might be one of the most talented actors in Hollywood, it turns out that his talents in the drawing department do fall short. So although Jack was able to draw Rose like one of his French girls, Leo was not the man for the job.

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Image: Yahoo

Stepping in as a hand actor extraordinaire was none other than James Cameron himself. The hand that you see drawing Rose in the film actually belongs to Cameron. Since Cameron is left-handed the shot also had to be mirror-imaged in order to better appear like Leo’s right hand. All the sketches seen in Jack’s book were sketched by Cameron.

Kate’s Wardrobe Choices

The visual illusions used in the making of Titanic did not stop at building the set itself. There were also some creative tools used when it came to the wardrobe. Particularly with what Kate Winslet was wearing in the final scenes of the film.

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Image: Hollywood Reporter

Although Winslet was a size four during the time of filming, in the scenes where Rose and Jack are maneuvering through the chaos of the sinking ship she is actually wearing a size eight. This was done purposefully in order to make Rose appear more vulnerable in those dramatic final scenes.

Jack of All Trades

Although it’s hard to imagine anyone else taking on the role of Jack besides Leo, he was not the only leading man in Hollywood to be considered. In fact, he was not even the first choice. The role almost went to Matthew McConaughey.

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Image: Rolling Stone

James Cameron, however, was adamant that Leonardo DiCaprio take on the role. Other well-known actors that were at some point considered included Christian Bale, Johnny Depp, and Jeremy Sisto.

He Would Not Have Fit

Oh, the age-old argument, could Jack have fit on the wooden panel with Rose? Many have argued that Rose could have actually made room for him and saved both their lives while others assert that this happy ending is all just wishful thinking. Regardless of whose side you’re on, there’s a lot more to this piece of wood than audiences might realize.

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Image: Today

The wooden piece seen in the movie is actually based on a real artifact that survived the sinking. The panel sits on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Canada. Visitors of the museum are quick to point out that the real wood panel is actually smaller than the prop seen in the movie. So it seems the tragic end to their love story was probably more accurate than we realized.

Winslet’s Real Bruises

When talking about her time on set filming, Titanic, Kate Winslet often speaks about how physically demanding the role of Rose really was. According to her, most of the bruises seen in the film were real and had to be later recreated for future scenes.

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Image: Bustle

In addition to the bruises, she also reportedly chipped a bone in her elbow and even almost drowned when filming a scene. Apparently, her coat got caught on a gate in one of the sinking ship scenes and she got pulled underwater.

King of the Improv

When Jack and his friend Fabrizio first step foot on the Titanic, the young opportunist can’t help but share his excitement with the world. He stands up tall on the bow of the ship, raises his arms up with pride and yells out “I’m king of the world!” This line ended up being one of the most iconic in the film.

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Image: Teen Vogue

Funny enough, the exclamation wasn’t actually included in the original script. Leonardo DiCaprio decided to add it in on his own when filming and it looks like Cameron was a fan because he kept it in. The line eventually landed the number four spot on Premiere magazine’s list of “100 Greatest Movie Lines.”

Her Song Will Go On

Celine Dion’s Academy Award-winning song “My Heart Will Go On” came very close to never existing. In fact, Cameron originally didn’t want the movie to include any song in the closing credits of the movie. Lucky for us, composer, James Horner was adamant to change his mind.

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Image: Yahoo

Horner was the one who reached out to lyricist Will Jennings and singer Celine Dion and asked them to write a song for the movie. They then presented their song to Cameron, who loved it and agreed to feature it in the closing credits.

One Man for the Job

When James Cameron wrote the role of Lewis Bodine, the foul-mouthed technician interviewing present-day Rose, he had one man in particular in mind. He based the role entirely on Lewis Abernathy. However, he couldn’t find the right actor to take on the role.

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Image: UNT Digital Library

Since no one else could do it justice, Cameron asked Abernathy to step in and play himself. When Lewis received this request he told James, “if you want to mess up your movie by casting me, buddy, alright.”

Reaching The Redhead Quota

On the list of Titanic cast members that almost made the cut was then-child star, Lindsey Lohan. Lohan auditioned for the role of Cora Cartmell back when she was only eight years old and she had yet to make her breakthrough. She was actually very close to getting the part however Cameron had a last-minute change of heart.

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Cameron was afraid that Lohan’s red hair might confuse audiences. He did not want them to see her and assume that she was related to Rose and her mother who also had a similar shade of red locks. The part was then given to Alexandrea Owens.

Forfeiting His Paycheck

Staying within the budget to make this film was no easy task. In fact, the production went so over budget that Cameron decided to put all his earnings toward the film. The only payment he accepted was the six-figure writing fee. At the time, Titanic was the most expensive film ever made with a final budget of $200 million.

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Image: Vanity Fair

This number was only surpassed in 2010 with Avatar, which was also created by James Cameron. Titanic ended up being worth every penny spent. It was the first film to ever cross the billion-dollar mark and after its 3D version release, it also became the first movie to earn more than $2 billion.

Real Sunsets

“I’m flying Jack.” This was one of the most memorable quotes from the movie. The romantic scene where Jack holds Rose as they stand together on the bow of the ship has been reenacted and poked fun of countless times, making the scene iconic, to say the least.

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Image: Popular Everything

Part of what makes the scene so romantic and memorable is the gorgeous sunset seen behind the two lovebirds. Contrary to what you might assume, this sunset was not achieved using CGI. Instead, James Cameron timed it perfectly to capture the most romantic lighting for the couple.

Stars Gone Wrong

If you have any questions about space and stars, one voice that is often turned to belongs to famed astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson had a few words of criticism when it comes to the night sky seen in the film on the night that the Titanic sank.

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Image: Vintage Everyday

When the movie made its debut, Tyson, the star expert wrote a formal complaint to Cameron. In the letter, he wrote that the configuration of the stars in the movie’s final scene was incorrect. It didn’t stop there. Tyson also mentioned the mistake to Cameron in person. The director made sure to correct the configuration for the re-released film in 2017.

A Unifying Experience

It’s no surprise to find out that the making of Titanic was quite a bonding experience for everyone involved. Even today, more than 20 years since the film’s release, the cast members have still never let go of their friendships. DiCaprio and Winslet have even since worked together again with the 2008 film, Revolutionary Road.

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Image: News Week

But it wasn’t just Kate and Leo that stayed in touch. “That was a wonderful bonding experience for the entire cast and crew. Everyone still maintains a great kinship,” said Billy Zane who played Rose’s fiance. When talking about Leo, who played his on-screen nemesis in the film, Zane said “We’re pals. I support his efforts, he mine.”

Jack Dawson’s Storyline

As it turns out, there was a third-class passenger on the actual Titanic that had a very similar narrative to Jack Dawson. Or at least his storyline from the beginning of the movie. In the film, Jack is a third-class passenger who sneaks up to the first-class deck.

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Image: IMDb

Apparently, a real third-class passenger by the name of Hilda Maria Hellstrom also had the same habit during her time on the Titanic. She really did sneak up to the upper-class area and never got caught. Luckily, Hilda survived to tell her story.

Cold Air Problems

One of the major historical accuracies in the film that required the use of digital effects was temperature. In many of the scenes, the characters standing outside the ship are seen producing condensation clouds from their breath due to how cold it was during the Titanic voyage.

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Image: Titanic Screenshot

However onset, while making the film, it wasn’t nearly as cold. There is actually only one scene where the clouds were not digitally added. This scene occurs when Victor Garber’s character, Thomas Andrews scolds his second officer for sending boats out without filling them to capacity.

DiCaprio’s Pet Lizard

Today, every Leonardo DiCaprio fan knows that he is all about sustainability, respecting nature and combating climate change. Well, it seems this love for nature started at a young age. Young Leo would even bring a pet lizard on the set of Titanic and would care for him between filming.

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One day, in an unfortunate accident, the little guy was set loose and ended up getting run over and badly injured. Leo was heartbroken when he found out and he dedicated all his free time to nursing the lizard back to health. Maybe this was the start of his animal saving ways.

Designing The Rooms

In sticking to his dedication to accuracy, Cameron and his set designers decided to base some of the rooms seen in the movie on actual rooms that were on the Titanic. The first-class rooms that Rose and her family stay in, B52, B54, B56, are a prime example.

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These rooms were actually rumored to have been booked by the successful investment banker, J.P. Morgan. Lucky for Morgan, he had a last-minute conflict and had to cancel his journey aboard the ship. It is said that English businessman and managing director of the Titanic’s manufacturer, White Star Line booked the rooms in his place.

Becoming John Jacob Astor

One of the other characters seen in the movie that was based on a real person on board the Titanic was John Jacob Astor, played by Eric Braeden. Astor was not just any passenger, he was the richest onboard the ship, if not the world at the time.

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In taking on this role, Braeden does speak about one scene in particular that stands out in his memory. For his final scene, depicting Astor’s death, they had to use approximately 120 tons of water. As you can imagine, there was no way to really rehearse this prior to filming. Braeden explained that mentally preparing for it was terrifying.

The Molly Brown That Almost Was

Although Kathy Bates did a phenomenal job at depicting Molly Brown’s eccentric and outspoken character, it’s certainly interesting to hear that the role was not originally hers. In fact, country star Reba McEntire was the first to be cast.

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Unfortunately though, shortly after accepting the role. Reba had to cancel due to scheduling conflicts. Other than her music, Reba is most well known for her self titled sitcom, Reba.

But What About The Dogs?

Understandably, there were certain details of the event that Cameron purposely left out of the film. One being, what had happened to all the pets that were on board the ship before the tragic sinking. Many passengers actually brought their dogs and other pets with them on their journey.

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When the ship began to sink, the dogs were released from the kennels and some were even seen swimming in the ocean looking for safety. Unfortunately, only three dogs were reported to have survived. One of those three was a tiny Pomeranian. This is probably why the movie decided to give the present-day Rose a pet Pomeranian.

The Weight Rumors

Many rumors circulated that Cameron had concerns with Kate Winslet’s figure. However, according to the star herself, those rumors were completely false and she was not pressured to lose weight. On the contrary, Cameron was more concerned that the cast would be strong enough to take on the physically demanding roles.

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The stars of the film all shared a personal trainer that was hired to get them in shape for filming. “Clearly they were concerned about all of us being strong, being physically strong enough to get through ‘cause it was like being in a bootcamp,” Winslet recalls.

Awards on Awards

In addition to being the highest-grossing film of its time, Titanic also proved itself iconic with an impressive collection of awards and accolades. The film was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won 11, tying with 1959’s Ben Hur for the most Oscar awards won by a single film. 

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The portrayal of Rose, both by Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart won the movie not one, but two Academy Award nominations. This is the first time a single character received two different nominations for an Academy Award. Gloria, at 87 years old was also the oldest person to be nominated for an Oscar.

Kate and Leo’s Platonic Bond

Being both young and fairly new to the limelight, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio formed an instant bond on set. The stars leaned on each other for support and are still very close still today. It was a good thing too, considering how intimate some of their scenes were together.

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Winslet recalled that “even though I didn’t feel that way about Leo, it was quite nice to sort of feel that way in the scene. It was quite lovely. And then, y’know, the camera stopped rolling, and he gets up and walks off, and the scene’s done.” Both stars are adamant that although they were very close, they were only ever just friends.

Captain De Niro

Up next on our list of actors that almost made it onboard the Titanic is Hollywood’s favorite goodfella, Robert De Niro. The star was initially meant to be cast as Captain Smith and he was ready and willing to take on the role. Unfortunately, he began experiencing health issues once filming began and he had to drop the part.

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The role was then passed to Bernard Hill. Other than Titanic, Hill is also well known for his role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Truth be told, Hill did an amazing job as the Captain. However, As great as Hill’s performance was, we can’t help but picture DeNiro looking at the iceberg and asking, “You talkin’ to me?”

Award-Winning Multi-Tasker

It would seem that the hard work that Cameron put into this film really paid off. The director went above and beyond to make this film shine. His hands-on approach and undeniable dedication to the film were incredible and this showed in the final result.

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Not only did he take on a crazy amount of tasks on his own when making the movie, he even forfeited his salary in order to increase the film’s budget. As a result, Titanic was the first Best Picture Academy Award winner to be produced, directed, written and edited by the same person.

Shipwreck Enthusiast

It’s no wonder that James Cameron took on this titanic-sized project. The director already had a deep fascination with shipwrecks. Before he began working on the film, he actually went on numerous diving expeditions to see what remains of the Titanic.

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Image: National Geographic

In total, James went on 12 diving expeditions which allowed him to spend even more time with the ship than the actual passengers did before the tragedy. Cameron describes these dives as an emotional experience and it is what inspired him to create such a beautiful film. Here we see Cameron, 20 years after the release of Titanic, with oceanographer Bob Ballard.