11 Titanic backstage secrets – from Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio’s sex talk to spiking that left 50 in hospital
IT’S been 25 years (not quite 84 yet) since Titanic hit the big screen and became the first ever film to make over $1 billion at the box office.
As if you didn’t know, the James Cameron movie tells the story of the sinking of the RMS Titanic after it crashed into an iceberg in 1912 – killing over 1,500 passengers and crew.
The film was a huge hit and turned Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet – who played lovers Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt-Bukater – into household names.
As Titanic celebrates its anniversary, we reveal some of the most surprising behind-the-scenes secrets from the film – including who nearly played Jack and Rose, and how Leo and Kate kept it sexy in between takes…
Madonna was originally considered for the role of Rose, as well as Nicole Kidman, Jodie Foster, Cameron Diaz, Sharon Stone and Gwyneth Paltrow.
But Kate bagged the role in the end thanks to a lot of persistence – and bribery.
“I closed the script, wept floods of tears and said, ‘Right, I’ve absolutely got to be a part of this. No two ways about it,’” she told Rolling Stone in 1998.
A few calls later, she was on the phone with Cameron, who was in his car.
“I think he pulled over and I said, ‘I just have to do this, and you are really mad if you don’t cast me’,” Kate recalled.
She also sent him a rose (for Rose) and “a note that basically said, ‘I’m ready’.”
There were also many actors on the table to play Jack, including Matthew McConaughey, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and even Jeremy Sisto from Clueless – who did a screen test with Kate.
But Kate is largely to thank for Leo being cast in the role, as she slipped out of a press junket to have a chat with him during the Cannes Film Festival.
Recalling the conversation, Leo told Deadline, “We’d done all of these independent movies. I loved her as an actress and she said, ‘Let’s do this together, we can do this.’
“We did it, and it became something that we could’ve never foreseen.”
Although Kate and Leo obviously did see each other naked while filming the sex scenes, Kate unintentionally flashed Leo even before that.
“I was having my make-up put on – with nothing on – and there was Leo,” Winslet told PEOPLE in 1998.
“He saw me and went ‘Whoah!’ and I said, ‘We’re going to spend the whole day like this; we might as well get over it now.’
“That broke the ice.”
The stars got very close on set – and in between takes they used to have private chats about sex while snuggled under a blanket in Leo’s trailer.
Kate revealed they talked about “some very, very personal things” and asked each other for advice.
“Not necessarily comparing notes but sort of, ‘No, don’t do it like that, do it like this.’ He’s very good at that,” she said.
“I have to say, a lot of those sexual tips he’s given me have worked. And I know it’s vice versa.”
It’d be awkward to star in a film about a sinking ship if you’re scared of water – but that’s exactly what happened to Leo.
Director Cameron previously revealed Leo “always made this big drama about getting wet”.
Eventually (luckily) he got over his fear, thanks to the crew members who poured buckets of warm water over him during months of filming.
And on the last day, where he had to film underwater, Cameron said Leo was like a different person.
“I’m down there in my scuba equipment, and Leo comes down, and he’s a total fish underwater,” he said. “And he’s [even] doing somersaults.”
He may be one of the best-looking men in the world, but Leo was just like any other teenage boy while filming Titanic, and couldn’t resist pulling pranks.
One of his favourites was reportedly farting in his jacket before covering Kate’s face with it.
“I mean if anybody else in the world did that they’d get slapped, and the other person would walk away and not talk to them for a week,” Cameron told Rolling Stone in 1998.
“With Leo, Kate would just crack up.”
Billy Zane – who played Cal Hockley in the film – added: “Grossing Kate out was purely Leo’s job. He was really good at it.”
Gross toilet breaks
Although Leo was nervous of the water, he couldn’t have minded it too much, as he and Kate used to wee in the water tanks.
“You know, when you gotta go, you gotta go,” Kate said on The Rosie O’Donnell Show.
“It was so awful because Leo would sometimes say to me, ‘Sweetie I gotta pee…’ It was terrible. It was awful.
“And you always felt awful doing it. It took too long getting out, with the wet clothes. I confess. It happened. It happened.”
Towards the end of the movie, once Jack has died, a near-frozen Rose looks up at a starry night sky.
However, the sky she looks up at in the film now is different to the one she saw in the original release.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson pointed out – in a “snarky email” – that a real survivor wouldn’t have seen the coordinates shown in the original from that part of the Atlantic Ocean.
So, ahead of the film’s 15-year re-release in 2012, Cameron adjusted it to be accurate.
He said: “With my reputation as a perfectionist, I should have known that and I should have put the right star field in.
“So I said, ‘All right, send me the right stars for the exact time and I’ll put it in the movie.’”
The real artist
Who can forget that famous scene in Titanic where Jack draws Rose wearing nothing but the Heart of the Ocean necklace?
It turns out it was actually Cameron himself who sketched the pencil drawing, rather than Leo.
In 2011 the artwork sold for “at least $16,000” at auction, according to ABC News.
Near the end of the shoot, around 50 members of the cast and crew had to go to hospital after eating seafood chowder spiked with PCP – or angel dust.
Among those affected was Bill Paxton – who played Brock Lovett in the film.
He told EW: “One minute I felt okay. The next minute I felt so goddamn anxious I wanted to breathe in a paper bag.
“Cameron was feeling the same way.”
A doctor added: “These people were stoned.”
The case inspired several conspiracy theories, including one involving an angry chef that had been let go, but remains a mystery.
The controversial door
The infamous door – on which there was apparently no room for Jack – that Rose floats on after the crash was a replica of one from the real ship.
It was a larger version of a wooden panel from the first class lounge that split in two following the disaster.
It was kept in the Maritime Museum in Halifax for decades until 2018 when it got moved to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Kate recently waded into the debate over whether Jack could have fit on the door, claiming it wouldn’t have stayed afloat with both of them on it.
She told the Happy Sad Confused podcast: “You’ve heard it here, for the first time, yes he could have fit, he could have fit on that door, but it would not have stayed afloat. It wouldn’t.”
She added: “I do have a decent understanding of water and how it behaves, I really do.
“If you put two adults on a stand-up paddleboard, it becomes immediately extremely unstable, that is for sure.”
Cameron didn’t want Celine Dion
Cameron originally only wanted instrumental music for the Titanic soundtrack – and it included “a lot of Enya”.
But Enya turned down the offer, leading Cameron to go with composer James Horner.
Celine Dion then recorded vocals to My Heart Will Go On in secret with him.
Horner told Billboard: “She started singing the song and it was just electrifying. By the end of it, we were all emotionally shook up.
“She started crying while singing it two thirds of the way through the song, and then everybody in the room was crying. She was singing it like her life depended on it.”
However it still took him another month-and-a-half to convince Cameron that the song belonged in the film.
She, of course, went on to pick up an Oscar for the incredible song.
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