Actor-Shared Background: In 2017, Eric Braeden, who played John Jacob Astor, revealed that he was a survivor of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a Nazi cruise ship which was sunk in January 1945 while evacuating refugees from the Baltics escaping from the advancing Soviet Red Army during World War II.note Braeden (born Hans-Jørg Gudegast) was just over two months shy of his fourth birthday at the time of the sinking. Over 9,000 people died, making it the largest loss of life in a ship sinking in history.
Awesome, Dear Boy: James Cameron admitted that one of the main reasons he wanted to make this film was so he could personally dive down to the actual remains of the Titanic.
Rose asks Jack to "draw [her] like one of [his] French girls", not "paint her". For some reason, the latter is starting to show up frequently these days. Also, a common misconception is that she says it while naked; she actually says the line while fully clothed.
The ship's bandleader's line when the ship is about to sink is "Gentlemen, it's been a privlege playing with you tonight". Most parodies, including The Simpsons Movie, say "It's been an honor playing with you tonight"
Blooper: In the opening sepia tone footage, we see a blonde girl in a straw hat waving out, but when the ship departs, we see her again and the shot is reversed. In addition, it appears that the latter shot has the correct orientation. In the sepia tone footage, it appears that she is waving out to sea.
California Doubling: Baja California, in this case - while there were scenes in the North Atlantic and even the actual Titanic wreck, the main filming location were in Fox's studios in Mexico.
Cast the Expert: All the crew aboard the research ship and its submarine are actual research-ship-and-submarine crewmembers. Cameron hired the Akademic Mstislav Keldysh to visit the wreck, and kept them on payroll for use as set and extras once the production phase started.
Channel Hop: The film started out as a 20th Century Fox production entirely. As the production budget soared, however, Fox decided to sell the domestic rights to Paramount to hold off potential losses (they still released the movie internationally).
James Cameron has expressed some regret over how First Officer William Murdoch was portrayed (i.e. shooting a passenger and then himself), admitting that he'd been "thinking like a screenwriter" when he made the relevant decisions. After Murdoch's relatives and residents of his hometown complained, Cameron donated money to set up a charitable prize in Murdoch's name.
Kate Winslet is a bit embarrassed by her American accent, comparing it to watching an old home movie of herself.
Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, despite (or perhaps because of) the success of this film, have stated to not have fond memories of it. Both have referred to James Cameron as a task master. DiCaprio, for his part, while he doesn’t mind the film itself, has nothing good to say about what it did to his career. Before this, he was widely considered one of the best actors of his generation (he was an Academy Award nominee) but as soon as the film came out, he was turned into a teen idol and spent YEARS trying to get away from his pretty boy image. He himself put it best: “I went to bed a respectable dramatic actor, and the next morning I woke up a Tiger Beat cover boy.” He reportedly almost considered quitting acting as a whole (it’s telling that he didn’t start making another film a full year after Titanic had come out, The Man in the Iron Mask had already been filmed and was itself decidedly not aimed at 14 year old girls). Winslet, for her part, while she’s a little more patient about the movie (key word little, she had admitted she got tired of it too), the Céline Dion song being played for her pushes her buttons. She has said in interviews (half joking) “If you’re hosting a party, and it’s time to leave, and I’m not getting the hint, just play that Titanic song and I will be out the door before you can turn around.”
Dear Negative Reader: James Cameron eventually became so annoyed at the ongoing debate over whether or not Jack and Rose could both fit on the door that he commissioned a detailed scientific study of the scenario to prove that it would be impossible and end the nitpicking once and for all. Note that this was after the Mythbusters had demonstrated that it was possible for both to survive. Cameron has also repeatedly said that the story required Jack to die and that no amount of debate will change the character's fatenote plus, there's no shortage of alternate ways he could have killed Jack off.
Deleted Role: A number of characters had their roles greatly reduced in the finished film or were cut out entirely.
Van Ling was cast as Chinese passenger Fang Lang. He appears in the background of a few scenes, but his rescue by Fifth Officer Lowe was cut out for time.
Helga (Camilla Overbye Roos) was originally meant to be a third class foil for Rose, finding love within her own social class and obeying her parents' commands. Her subplot with Fabrizio was mostly cut from the film.
Gym instructor Thomas McCawley (Brian McDermott) was featured in only two scenes that were entirely cut.
Peter J. White and Adam Barke were cast as Third Officer Charles Groves and wireless operator Cyril Evans of the SS Californian for a brief scene that was cut.
The March 25th, 1995 treatment, which you can read here features two other fictional third class passengers, an Armenian 16 year old named Ara Ajemian, and another Italian named Massimo Trani.
The production originally intended to feature Second Class passenger Ruth Becker, even going as far as having a casting call, but this was ultimately dropped.
Deleted Scenes: An hour's worth of deleted material can be found on the Blu-ray. Some of these scenes were previously available on the mid-2000's DVDs. Several are based on events that actually took place over the course of the voyage and sinking.
Returning to her room after dinner, Rose freaks out and starts smashing everything before running to the stern.
Rose entering Steerage the day after her suicide attempt to find Jack. This included a break in the flashback in which Old Rose goes to rest for the night while Brock laments to Lizzie that he's staked everything on finding the diamond. (Which explains why everyone’s wearing different clothing when the theatrical version does cut back to the present, as Rose resumes telling her story the following day.)
After the party in Third Class, Jack and Rose sing "Come, Josephine" on their way back to First Class. They spend a few moments stargazing, with Rose remarking just how small all the first class men really are, and she spots a shooting star.
On Sunday morning, Thomas Andrews shows Cal, Ruth, and Rose the gymnasium as part of their tour of the ship. Cal fiddles with the rowing workout, while Ruth says she "can't think of a more useless skill." On their way out, Rose punches a large punching bag. After that, Tommy and Fabrizio help Jack sneak into First Class. A crewman spots Tommy and Fabrizzio and scolds them as they walk away, but he misses Jack who has just made it to the first class deck.
The wireless operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride are backlogged in their work, only to hear the Californian messaging them warning about the ice field the Titanic is about to steam into. They tell him to shut up. The Californian radio operator then shuts down for the night.
After receiving the order to send out the distress call CQD, Harold Bride suggests to Jack Phillips that they use the new distress call SOS. "It might be [their] only chance to use it." (In some countries, this scene made it into the theatrical version.)
Ismay goes into a panic upon grasping the seriousness of the situation, before being told off by Fifth Officer Lowe.
Captain Smith calls out to them to return for more passengers, only for Quartermaster Hichens to overrule it. John Jacob Astor showing his wife what's inside a life jacket by cutting it with a knife in the gym, and the gym manager saying that he doesn't need a jacket because it will limit his stroke. Astor reminds him that they are 700 miles from the shore. Chef Joughin throws some deck chairs overboard to serve as flotation devices before taking a swig from his hip flask.
Right after chasing Jack and Rose into the First Class Saloon whilst shooting at them, Cal tells Lovejoy that he can keep the diamond if he can get it from them. Lovejoy then calmly stalks them into the rapidly flooding dining room, where he and Jack fight, and Jack prevails. This explains how Cal and Lovejoy got separated during the final stage of the sinking, and is also the reason Lovejoy is bloodied when the ship breaks apart. It also explains why Jack and Rose had to seek refuge in the lower decks (to trick Lovejoy into thinking they'd headed back to higher ground) with the deleted scene ending when they find the crying child.
Fabrizio was originally supposed to have a near miss with the funnel, only to be bludgeoned to death by Cal with an oar when he tried climbing onto the swamped collapsible A. This was cut and Fabrizio's death scene was re-edited because James Cameron felt Cal was turning into a cartoon villain by that point.
The Carpathia sequence was originally longer. Prior to the rescue, we have a shot of Lightoller and the men on Collapsible B, the overturned boat. Ismay is shown receiving a "walk of shame" aboard the Carpathia while Lowe personally hands Rose some coffee. Cal enters the steerage area and mistakes another red haired woman for Rose. This explains how Rose knew that Cal was behind her, and made sure he didn't see her. Old Rose also expanding on Cal's fate (his sons fought each other for his remaining assets, "like hyenas"). It includes an extra line from her, comparing herself to a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, before Lewis mentions they couldn't find any record of Jack.
An alternate ending where Brock, Lewis and Rose's granddaughter catch Rose before she throws the Heart of the Ocean overboard. Instead of trying to stop her, Brock requests to simply hold the jewel for a moment before giving it back to her. The theatrical ending primarily consisted of re-edited footage filmed for this scene, with only a few minor reshoots. It was cut as Cameron felt that, by the time the film ended, the audience would no longer care for Brock's plot.
This is a James Cameron film. So the final film's 3 hours long. There is an hour of deleted footage and another hour worth of script that was never filmed. Among the latter, an entirely unrelated subplot about Real Life early film pioneer Daniel Marvin, his wife Mary and his brand new film camera all aboard the Titanic.
A brief scene showing a small group of Third Class passengers finding their way into the First Class reception room just as it begins to flood.
The computer game James Cameron's Titanic Explorer features a number of shots and sequences that didn't even make it into the deleted scenes.
Doing It for the Art: This film was James Cameron's passion project through and through. When the film went over budget and over schedule, Cameron forfeited his entire salary to make sure he could continue.
The water during filming was deliberately cold, so Leo shouting "Oh shit, this is cold!" is real as well as Kate's gasp when she gets chest-deep in the water. The scene where Jack and Rose are swept away by a rush of water in the hallway is also real.
Guggenheim's reaction to the water flooding the Grand Staircase is not acted. Michael Ensign was genuinely terrified.
According to Billy Zane, because the ship was built so close to full scale in a pool of freezing saltwater from the North Pacific, it did not take much to develop a sense of terror similar to the actual sinking.
Victor Garber (Jewish Canadian) as Belfastman Thomas Andrews, who in fact had a brother who became Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. He gets the accent quite wrong though; using a more southern dialect as opposed to the much harsher northern tones.
Jewish American actress Jenette Goldstein, who has Russian, Moroccan, and Brazilian ancestry, plays the Irish mother.
Fake Nationality: American Danny Nucci as the Italian character, Fabrizionote Though Nucci is in fact Italian on his father's side, and was raised there for several years, but of course still has to fake an accent..
Life Imitates Art: In one of the deleted scenes, Brock's manager Bobby tells him that they're over-budget, the partners depending on them are pissed, and that they're in serious danger of getting shut down. James Cameron later noted that when he was writing this, he had no idea he would be hearing all these things when the production ran into problems.
Rose shares a number of similarities with Titanic survivor Edith Brown, who died eleven months before the film was released. Both were born in the late 19th Century and made it to their centennary.
Meaningful Release Date: The 3D rerelease was timed to correspond to the centenary of the sinking in 2012. It released on April 6th, four days before the Titanic set sail - most likely to avoid a midweek release, and to capitalize on Easter weekend crowds. In the meantime, the 2023 re-release went on Valentine's Day (along with a slightly delayed 25th anniversary of the movie).
Missing Trailer Scene: In one of the trailers, Cal mentions "pulling every string to book them on the grandest ship in history" while Rose "is acting like she's going to her execution." This was part of an extension of their introduction in Southampton, which did not make it into the film.note It's fortunate that the line was cut, as it implies that the ship is solidly filled, which is why Cal had to pull strings in order to get them on board. In reality, only half of the first class cabins were occupied, so Cal would have had no trouble booking passage on the ship.
Money, Dear Boy: The crew of the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh agreed to be in the film because the Russian economy was very poor five years after the collapse of the USSR and they needed work.
Multi-Disc Work: The movie famously released on two VHS tapes. Some DVD releases managed to squeeze the film onto a single-disc using heavier-than-normal compression; however, this degraded image quality so other editions used 2 discs to preserve the quality. It wasn't until Blu-ray that the film was able to be released on a single-disc without compromising quality.
On-Set Injury: Some stuntpeople suffered broken bones, while Kate Winslet developed bruises so impressive that the makeup department took pictures for future reference. She also chipped a bone in her elbow.
One-Take Wonder: The scene where the Grand Staircase floods had to be shot in one take because the whole set would have been too damaged for a second. The water destroyed the period-accurate materials to the point where wood blocks and even an actual part of the staircase became dislodged while filming.
During the dinner scene, Jack declines to have caviar, saying he never liked it, and Rose smirks. In a deleted scene from when they are talking on the Promenade, Jack teases Rose by saying that being poor means no hot water and hardly ever any caviar, to which she snaps that she actually hates caviar.
When Jack makes Rose "fly" at the bow, he starts singing the popular 1910 song Come Josephine In My Flying Machine, and she laughs. This is a throwback to a deleted scene that came after Jack brought Rose to a party in steerage. As he accompanied her back to First Class, the two sang Come Josephine.
When Cal finds Rose at the lifeboats, he is disgusted to see her in a poor checkered blanket. In a deleted scene, she got that blanket from a generous couple at steerage, after they broke into the main hall. You see the same steerage couple swimming in the freezing water after the ship goes down.
Lovejoy has a gash on his head as a result of a fight with Jack that was cut from the film.
Everyone on the Keldysh clearly has had a change of clothes in the second half of the film, when the flashback ends after the "flying" scene. In the original cut, there was a break after Cal shows Rose the diamond, after which she is taken to rest.
As the ship goes down and Rose is clinging to the railings, she shares a look with a blonde girl who falls to her death moments later. This is Helga, who had a much larger subplot as Fabrizio's love interest and Foil for Rose (see above). It's her that Fabrizio is dancing with in the party in third class, explaining why Rose would recognise her.
Permanent Placeholder: The track that plays when Jack draws Rose was actually a piano demo James Horner wrote for "Rose's Theme," which he intended to fully orchestrate later. He labeled the tape "Sketch." However, James Cameron misinterpreted the name and thought it was supposed to be used for the drawing scene, and so he complimented a confused Horner on creating such a beautiful piece for it.
Recycled Set: Titanic's forward well deck was redressed to serve as the Carpathia.
The Red Stapler: Since this film, passenger ship companies have had to actively stop passengers from doing the "I'm the King of the World" stunt standing on the tip of their ships' bows, since that's a very dangerous thing to do.
Science Marches On: The depiction of the ship sinking was based on CGI models compiled by research and survivor accounts that were accurate at the time of production. A later study commissioned by James Cameron for the 100th anniversary of the sinking indicates that the Titanic probably broke at 23 degrees or so, half of the approximately 45 degrees as depicted in the movie.
The CGI animation the study came up with can be found here.
The movie also made this happen: the scene of the Grand Staircase when it started being flooded led to Titanic scholars changing their theories of how it was destroyed during the sinking.Explanation The prevailing theory at the time was that the staircase was simply eaten by microbes, which didn't add up because there is plenty of wood paneling still intact throughout the wreck and the structural iron frame of the staircase is nowhere to be found. When the set was flooded, the staircase actually dislodged and shot out of the dome, which has made scholars theorize that the same thing happened during the actual disaster.
Jack telling Rose to lie "Over on the bed— uh, the couch." was an accidental flub, but James Cameron thought that was natural, so he left it in. You can see Leonardo DiCaprio almost swearing to himself, thinking he's ruined the take, but it comes off as a nervous 20-year-old thinking how much he just embarrassed himself in front of the girl he loves.
When Old Rose sees the drawing, the script had her line to her daughter as "Wasn't I a hot number?" Gloria Stuart refused to say it as she thought it was too vulgar. When Cameron asked what she would say, she came up with "Wasn't I a dish?"
During the lunch scene, the line "Freud? Who is he? Is he a passenger?" was an ad lib by Jonathan Hyde.
When Cal tries to force Rose into a lifeboat, she was supposed to jab him with a hairpin. Instead, Kate improvised spitting in Zane's face and the scene was kept in. Cameron loved it because it was based on something Jack had taught her.
The heartbreaking line "Jack! This is where we first met!" was also ad-libbed by Kate Winslet.
The scene with Guggenheim was meant to include him saying goodbye to Astor, but they were not sure how to block it after Guggenheim says he intends to go down as a gentleman. Cameron suggested that he say something else, and Michael Ensign ad-libbed his request for a brandy.
Cameron, long fascinated by the story of the Titanic, began working on the film after seeing the 1992 DocumentaryTitanica and wanting to dive to the wreckage himself. While 20th Century Studios executives were skeptical about Cameron, who had made his name on actionfilms, pitching an Epic Film that was described as "Romeo and Juliet on the Titanic", they ultimately greenlit the picture. Initially budgeted at $75 million, the (for the time) steep cost made them partner with Paramount on the film to share the burden of costs.
Cameron made twelve dives down to the Titanic wreckage to shoot footage, both for research purposes and to use for the film itself. These dives were high-risk; the wreckage rested at a depth of 12,480 feet, a depth only five craft in the world were capable of safely descending to in 1995. Cameron acquired research vessels from Dr. Anatoly Sagalevitch, who only agreed due to the poor economy of Russia at the time. One such dive resulted in a collision between a submersible and the wreck, damaging both.
Between the dives and the six months of research he conducted, Cameron became intent on historical authenticity. Gaining access to blueprints long thought lost, the film crew built a set for the Titanic that was nine-tenths the scale of the original, requiring a massive studio complex and water tank be built at the cost of $57 million. Materials and parts were sourced from the original ship manufacturers when possible, and the interiors were exactly reproduced when able, and historians Don Lynch and Ken Marschall were brought in to verify their authenticity. This attention to detail alone drove the film over its budget. The press wasted no time drawing comparisons between the film and Waterworld, which was fresh in many minds as a similarly over-budget, water themed, and chaotic production.
Shooting is what cemented Cameron as a JerkassControl Freak. Stories quickly spread of Cameron terrorizing cast and crew alike, verbally assailing them for the slightest errornote which led to several crew members half-jokingly stating that Cameron had a psychotic alter ego named "Noremac Mij". Early tests of the final plunge of the ship resulted in so many injuries that Cameron was forced to alter the sequence. Kate Winslet chipped a bone and suffered bruises so impressive that the makeup artists took photos for reference - she would describe the whole ordeal as nightmarish, and would take about 20 years before she accepted to reunite with Cameron in Avatar: The Way of Water. Illness was also rife on the set, with Cameron keeping cast members in cold waters for entire days of filming at a time. Cameron was unapologetic, going as far as to buy ad space in trade papers to defend himself from the hostile media coverage.
Perhaps the most notable incident was when an unknown person laced food with significant amounts of PCP while shooting in Nova Scotia. This resulting in 50 people, including Cameron and Bill Paxton, being hospitalized for overdosing. To this day, it is unknown if it was the result a nearly Deadly Prank, an attempt at murder, a mistake, or any other reason as the culprit was never found.
Between pre-production and filming, the film fell so far behind that its release date was pushed back from July to December. The cost for special effects mounted to $40 million, placing the budget at $200 millionnote not counting marketing costs, which some sources estimate at no less than an additional $250 million, making Titanic the most expensive film in history to that pointnote adjusted for inflation, it cost more than the Titanic ship had in 1911. Cameron would cut an entire hour of footage to wrestle the runtime to three hours, but panicking executives demanded an additional hour of cuts, to which an irate Cameron replied: "You want to cut my movie? You're going to have to fire me! You want to fire me? You're going to have to kill me!". Cameron did offer to forfeit his share of the gross income to placate the execs, which was reluctantly accepted.
Typecasting: Jonathan Hyde was frequently typecast as stuffy Upper Class Twits in the 90s. More egregious here, because Ismay was actually nothing like that in real life; the myth of him as the living embodiment of hubris was started by his detractors, and James Cameron put it in the film because "people would expect it".
Robert De Niro was offered the role of Captain Smith but turned it down due to a gastrointestinal infection at the time. Michael Caine was also offered the role.
Lindsay Lohan auditioned for the role of Cora Cartmell. Lohan, who was then an unknown and was only 8 years old at the time casting took place, was the top choice for the role. However, Cameron felt that Lohan's fiery red hair would confuse people into thinking she was related to the characters Rose and Ruth, who both had fiery red hair. Alexandrea Owens was cast instead.
Fay Wray was Cameron's first choice for the elderly Rose, but she turned it down.
There were many different scripted deaths for Fabrizio. One had him swimming to Cal's lifeboat and asking to be let in, saying that it was his destiny to go to America, only for Cal to bludgeon him with an oar and sarcastically yell "It's that way!"
The scene was at least partially filmed before being scrapped for being too gruesome and over-the-top; there are several published stills and a very brief shot of Cal hitting Fabrizio with an oar was used in an early trailer for the film.
In the script, Cal would have found Rose on the Carpathia, only to finally be told off by her and instructed to never seek her again, so that his actions during the sinking would never be revealed.
The Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø was considered to sing "My Heart Will Go On" before they decided on Celine Dion. Kyrkjebø did, however, provide the One-Woman Wail you hear in the background of the film's theme.
In the original script, "I'm the king of the world" is never uttered. The only dialogue in that scene is Fabrizio mentioning that he can see the Statue of Liberty.
The script included a scene in which Andrews inspects the damage to the ship, seeing the mail room clerks attempting to save the giant sacks of mail and the flooding of the cargo hold.
Guggenheim's scene in which he says he and his valet are going down as gentlemen originally took place earlier in the sinking and had Cal running in to him.
In the script, Murdoch did not throw Cal's money back at him, saying it won't save either of them. Originally, the money was supposed to be seen floating out of his pocket in the water.
Originally, Cal's taunt that he should have kept the drawing because "it will be worth more by morning" was directed to Jack instead of Rose.
The script originally featured Carpathia docking in New York, with Rose disappearing into the crowd.
Second Class passenger Ruth Becker was supposed to have an appearance in the film, with the production going as far as having a casting call, but this was ultimately dropped.note Becker was a 12-year old girl who was traveling with her mother and siblings. During the sinking, she was separated from her family to get blankets from their cabin, but by the time she got back, they were already being lowered in Lifeboat 11. She ran to and was placed in the next one, Lifeboat 13, which was nearly crushed when it drifted underneath the descending Lifeboat 15, an event that is depicted in the film. She was reunited with her family later that morning on Carpathia.