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25 Facts You May Not Know About ‘Titanic’

25 Facts You May Not Know About ‘Titanic’

While the sinking of the Titanic ship in 1912 is a well-known story, no one has matched James Cameron’s retelling of the event in his 1997 Blockbuster hit, “Titanic.” 

Starring young Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, the movie focuses on a fictional love story that takes place on the ship itself. Winslet, playing the role of aristocrat Rose Dewitt Bukater falls for a lowly artist, Jack Dawson (DiCaprio), while engaged to well-to-do Cal Hockley (played by Billy Zane). The movie focuses on Rose’s retelling of the story, now some 80 years later. 

While the love story of Rose and Jack was fictional, Cameron made sure every detail about the actual event of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic remained as factual as possible. Throughout the making of this film, Cameron researched both stories from the event and visited the remains of the ship as well. 

Today, we know much about the real-life tragic events of the sinking Titanic, but we don’t know as much about the making of the movie. What was life like behind the scenes? How did DiCaprio and Winslet get hired for their roles? Let’s review a few unique facts you may not know about the making of the movie “Titanic.” (For more behind-the-scenes content like this, check out 25 facts you may not know about “Back to the Future.”)

To compile this information, 24/7 Tempo sourced various references including IMDb, Cosmopolitan, and Business Insider. Here are 25 interesting facts you may not know about the movie “Titanic.” 

Production for the Movie Began Under a Different Name

Perito Moreno Glacier, located in Los Glaciares National Park. Patagonia. Argentina
Source: NNER / Shutterstock.com

To keep the movie a secret and prevent other studios from attempting to make a similar movie, “Titanic” was originally referred to by a different name. “Planet Ice” was the term used by Cameron while filming. 

Many of the Extra Characters Were Based on Real Life Survivors

Source: AnonymousUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

During the making of this film, Cameron researched real-life accounts of the event. He was then sure to include these stories in the movie. For example, the elderly couple lying in bed as the ship sank was based on passengers Isidor and Ida Strauss. Isidor was a former congressman and co-owner of Macy’s. The couple did not survive the sinking of the ship. 

Other Celebrities Were Considered for the Role of Jack Dawson

Source: Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images

Tom Cruise during his Hand and Footprint Ceremony at Mann's Chinese Theatre at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States, 28th June 1993. (Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images)

Leo DiCaprio was not the only choice for the role of Jack. Other actors up for the role included Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Matthew McConaughey, and Jeremy Sisto. It’s rumored that Sisto even did a screen test with Kate Winslet, but DiCaprio walked away with the role. 

Winslet Fought for DiCaprio to Take the Role of Jack

Source: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 23: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio speaks at the United Nations Climate Summit on September 23, 2014 in New York City. The summit, which is meeting one day before the UN General Assembly begins, is bringing together world leaders, scientists and activists looking to curb climate change. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

While the two were not close before filming “Titanic,” Winslet knew of DiCaprio. She lobbied for him to take on the role of Jack. She even went as far as to meet DiCaprio in person to convince him to take the role. 

James Cameron Went on 12 Dives to Visit the Wreckage of the Boat

Source: https://titanic.pagesperso-orange.fr/page85.htm, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

According to National Geographic, Cameron enjoys deep-sea diving. His love for the sea and his desire to see the wreckage of the R.M.S. Titanic led him to complete 12 separate dives to the ship. After his first dive, he was reportedly overcome by emotion and shed tears after arriving back on land. 

New Technology Was Created to Film the Ship Wreck for this Movie

Dark podcast talk show with red neon lights from behind the camera
Source: shulers / Shutterstock.com

Because of Cameron’s deep desire to acquire actual footage of the shipwreck, he sourced help from his brother, Mike Cameron, a camera operator on set. Mike was able to create remote-operated cameras that could withstand the pressure of being 2.5 miles underwater where the wreckage of the boat was located. Since filming “Titanic” these cameras have gone on to help film other deep sea movies. 

Jack is not Actually Drawing Rose in the Movie

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Though it’s filmed to look as though Jack (DiCaprio) is sketching Rose, it’s actually James Cameron who’s completing the drawing. Filming and editing crews were sure to capture footage in such a way that the audience would never know the difference.

The Film of the Wreckage is Actual Footage 

Source: AnonymousUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Director James Cameron was adamant that the film of the ship’s wreckage be original for the movie, not stock footage. As we can see from earlier facts about the making of this movie, Cameron made several trips to the actual wreckage himself in order to capture the film. 

The Film Cost More to Make than the Original Ship Cost to be Built

Source: ElenaR/ Shutterstock

To get this movie just right, James Cameron used every bit of his $200 million budget. However, when the ship itself was completed in 1912, it only cost $7.5 million to make. While the actual cost due to inflation varies, some reported that inflated cost still would have only made building the actual ship $180 million in 1997.

There are two Production Companies Listed in the Credits

 

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Reportedly, Cameron first told his 20th Century Fox that the film could be completed on a $80 million budget. However, when Cameron realized this amount was far too low, he had to source an additional budget from Paramount Pictures to complete it. 

“Titanic” Became the First Movie to Ever Gross $1 Billion

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

While the movie’s budget was incredibly high, equalling just over $1 million per minute of the film, it was worth it. According to IMDb, many movies have since crossed over this $1 billion mark. However, “Titanic” still makes history as being the first. 

The Set Was Historically Accurate

Source: Francis Browne, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Part of what made the movie so expensive to create was the furniture and settings that were needed to create a historically accurate account of the events. Cameron and his crew were able to recreate many of the fixtures, furniture, and details from historical photos of the ship before it sank. He also based the set off of film obtained from the wreckage. 

Real Beluga Caviar was Used During Dining Room Scenes

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Aside from making sure the set was as historically accurate as possible, the filming crew sought to make each detail about the movie factual. This came down to minute details including what the actors ate while filming in the dining room. One particular detail included real Beluga caviar being served to the actors during filming. 

James Cameron Makes Several Cameo Appearances in the Film 

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

It’s recorded that Cameron makes 12 total cameos in this film. 10 are voice cameos only, but 2 are in-person. We know that those are Cameron’s hands that are sketching Rose, but Cameron also appears as the man whose beard is being checked for lice near the beginning of the film as Rose boards the ship. 

Gloria Stuart, the Actress Who Plays Old Rose, Was the Only Cast Member Alive when the Titanic Sunk

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Stuart was 87 when filming began, making her 2 years old when the Titanic sunk in the Atlantic in 1912. No other cast member was alive to witness the actual and tragic event. Additionally, Stuart became the oldest Academy Award nominee for Best Supporting Actress in her role as Rose. 

Winslet Suffered from Hypothermia After Filming in the Water

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

While filming the iconic scene of Rose floating on a door in the middle of the cold Atlantic, Winslet reportedly suffered from hypothermia. Huge tanks of water were needed to film the scene and it was difficult to keep the water heated. 

Cameron Used Older Movies About the Titanic as Inspiration for his Film 

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

The 1958 classic “A Night to Remember” inspired a few of the scenes in Cameron’s movie. These included the band on the boat continuing to play as the boat went down, ending with “Nearer My God to Thee,” and a shot of the naval architect Thomas Andrews, Jr., looking perplexed at paintings during the tragic events happening onboard. 

The Destruction of the Grand Staircase was Filmed in One Take

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Because of the ultimate destruction of the staircase and fixtures, this iconic scene could only be filmed once. In order to make it as realistic as possible, the crew used 120 tons of water on the set. Eric Braeden, an actor in the movie, recounts that filming this destructive and terrifying scene was one of the scariest moments in his life.

An Alternate Ending was Filmed

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

According to Newsweek, an alternate ending was filmed for the movie. In it, we see that Rose and Brock have an entire conversation where he sees her with the diamond before she tosses it overboard. 

Winslet sent Cameron a Rose and a Letter After Landing her Role

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

After Cameron cast Kate Winslet as Rose, she sent him a note and a rose flower. This let him know she was ready and excited to take on the role. Winslet was 19 at the time. 

Much of the Cast and Crew Ate Spiked Clam Chowder During the Final Days of Filming

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

As filming for the movie wrapped up, several cast and crew members fell ill from spiked clam chowder at lunch. Originally thought to be food poisoning, it was later determined that someone had spiked the chowder with PCP (which stands for phencyclidine, a drug). To this day, no one is sure who the culprit was. 

DiCaprio Brought His Pet Lizard to Set 

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

According to other cast and crew members, DiCaprio was often seen with his pet lizard on set. Ironically, his pet’s name was Blizzard. 

Winslet Broke the Ice with DiCaprio in the First Days of Filming

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

While not intentional, DiCaprio caught Kate Winslet topless getting her makeup done for filming in the first few days on set. Winslet, knowing they would have to film a scene later in the same setting, told him not to worry and this broke the ice for the two of them. 

DiCaprio had a Stunt Double

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Because of the action scenes needed for the film, many of the actors had stunt doubles. It’s reported that the film had over 100 stunt performers who had to take on acts like sliding down the deck of the ship and falling overboard. But much was revealed about DiCaprio’s double, Brett Baker, in his article with Vanity Fair

The Film Took Home 11 Oscars

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In one of Cameron’s most successful films, “Titanic” took home an astonishing 11 Oscars in 1998. These included Best Original Score (“My Heart Will Go On” written by James Horner and Will Jennings), Best Picture, and Best Director, among many others. For more ’90s entertainment, see the most beloved movie characters of the 1990s.

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