Whether you’re watching Titanic for the first time or the tenth time, you probably cried when “My Heart Will Go On” played over the end credits. That’s because the film is not only visually stunning and historically truthful, but it tells an unforgettable love story sure to leave an impact on your heart, too.
Being that the film’s based off a tragic real-life event — the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 — Director James Cameron and crew wanted to ensure historic accuracy. And what the crew went through to produce such an advanced film was almost as unforgettable as the movie itself…
1. To make the movie feel authentic and true, Cameron gave all of the extras on camera backstories based on the real characters they played, and gave them directions on how to react to certain situations.
2. Reports claim Cameron became very strict while filming the post-ship sinking scenes, even forbidding the actors and actresses from going to the bathroom. Apparently, DiCaprio and Winslet ended up going to the bathroom in the water.
3. Kate Winslet’s was not a contender to play the iconic Rose Dewitt Bukater. After reading the script, Winslet begged Cameron to let her play the leading lady. As a thank you for letting her audition, she sent him roses.
4. In the film, Officer William Murdoch, under extreme pressure, shot several passengers before taking his own life. There are pieces of historical evidence surrounding his existence on the ship, but not of those specific events. James Cameron publicly apologized on Titanic DVD commentary edits to the family of the real-life character.
5. During the last night of shooting, the cast was celebrating, but someone thought it would be really funny to play a prank on their crewmates. So naturally, this person laced the catered clam chowder with PCP. More than 80 people were sent to the hospital with hallucinations. To this day, who was behind the prank is still a mystery.
6. For the scene where the water comes rushing into the Grand Staircase room and corridors of the ship, the crew actually released an astronomical amount of water and filmed the destruction. If they messed it up, they would have had to rebuild the entire the set.
7. During filming, Winslet wore a size-four dress, but during the ship sinking scenes, the costume crew made her wear a size-eight coat. They wanted her to look small in her coat, which would make her appear more vulnerable.
8. The men in the engine room were cast to be around five-feet-tall. They wanted the actors to be on the shorter side so the engine room appeared to be bigger and grander than the set actually was.
9. Gloria Stuart played the elderly version of Rose. She was two-years-old when the Titanic sank in 1912, and she passed away in 2010 at the age of 100, which was just one year shy of her character’s age.
10. The famous scene when Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Jack Dawson, stands at the bow of the Titanic yelling, “I’m king of the world!” was improvised. It was just DiCaprio’s authentic, excited reaction to the moment. The director, of course, kept it.
11. The wood panel Rose climbs up on in the frigid waters — while leaving poor Jack to freeze to death — is historically accurate. There were real pieces of wood recovered from the wreck; they’re housed in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Nova Scotia. Whether there was actually room for two on that panel is still up for debate.
12. It cost more to produce Titanic than it did to actually build the infamous cruise liner. In 1912, the RMS Titanic cost around $7.5 million, the equivalent of $120-150 million in 1997. Meanwhile, the production of the movie cost $200 million, which, at the time, was the largest movie budget ever.
13. Cameron was very particular about every aspect of the movie down to the credits. He wanted an instrumental ballad playing over the credits, but composer James Horner had a different vision that involved Canadian pop star, Céline Dion. The result was the classic song “My Heart Will Go On.”
14. At the time, DiCaprio had a pet lizard named “Blizzard.” He brought it to set with him, which may not have been the best idea. In a freak accident, Blizzard was hit by a truck on set, but don’t worry — DiCaprio nursed him back to health.
15. Before the final casting was set, Robert De Niro was offered the role of Captain Smith before dropping out due to an illness. Lindsay Lohan was considered to play the child, Cora. Most importantly, Matthew McConaughey was up for the role as Jack.
16. During the scenes where Jack is drawing Rose, the hands you see on camera are actually director Cameron’s hands. In fact, Cameron is left-handed and DiCaprio is not, so the footage had to be mirrored in post-production. (If Leonardo DiCaprio was a talented artist, we’d probably know it already).
17. Anyone who’s seen the movie knows there’s a scene where Rose poses naked while Jack draws her. Knowing this ahead of time, Winslet thought it might be best to get rid of any awkwardness ahead of time. Upon meeting DiCaprio, she flashed him! To this day, the pair is still the best of friends.
18. To visit the final resting place of the Titanic, Cameron, got funding and organized dives using an unmanned mini-submarine equipped with cameras. He wanted to obtain footage of the ship’s details so that he could perfectly recreate the Titanic.
19. Although, they did not film in the North Atlantic Ocean waters, the water in which they filmed the scenes was still extremely cold. The reactions the actors had when getting into the water were raw. Winslet declined to wear a wetsuit while filming and ended up getting pneumonia.
20. Finally, when the movie hit theaters, it grossed about $1.84 billion at the box office. The movie was so widely loved and watched that Paramount had to send out replacement reels to theaters because the original ones were worn out.