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5 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About The Movie Titanic

It’s hard to decide what comes to mind first when thinking about the movie Titanic. Is it Jack and Rose’s unconventional love story? The devastating shipwreck that killed thousands of people? The countless fans who insist that there definitely was room for Jack on that board? It’s hard to say, but there’s definitely one thing that most can agree on—this film is timeless.

James Cameron’s masterpiece about the sinking of the R.M.S Titanic in 1912, as well as the fictional romance between Jack and Rose, took the world by storm when it hit theaters in 1997. It earned over a billion dollars at the box office, won numerous awards and accolades, and became a pop-culture phenomenon that will never be forgotten. It’s been over two decades since the film’s release, but there are still a few behind-the-scenes secrets about Titanic that may surprise you. Read on for 5 fun facts about the epic disaster film…

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/AirstarInternational

The Movie’s Runtime Is Significant

There’s no denying that James Cameron is a talented director, which accounts for all his blockbuster hits, but he really put his heart and soul into Titanic. His goal with the film was to truly connect with the audience and tell the true story of the sinking ship, which is why Cameron made sure that the 1912 portion of the film (excluding present day scenes) lasted a total of exactly two hours and forty minutes.

What is the significance of this runtime? It’s the exact amount of time that it took for the Titanic to completely sink in real life. This builds anticipation, and gives viewers the terrifying experience of being one of the passengers on the ship as they await their fates. Another carefully detailed moment is when the ship hits the iceberg in the film. It lasts a total of 37 seconds, just like it did in 1912.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Somewhere In Toronto

Kate Winslet Fought To Be Rose

Winslet wanted to be the female lead so badly that she sent James Cameron letters every single day, explaining to him how she was born to be Rose. She even went so far as to tell him that he should stop the audition process entirely, as Cameron would not find another actress better for the part than her. Talk about a risk!

Winslet even sent Cameron a single rose, with a note signed, “From Your Rose.” Some may call this pushy or annoying, but it eventually paid off for the actress. Cameron was impressed by her talent and persistence, and eventually cast her as Rose, catapulting her to superstardom.

Photo: Wikipedia/NOAA/Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island

James Cameron Saw The Wreckage For Himself

Intent on staying true to the original story, James Cameron made 12 dives down into the depths of the ocean to see the Titanic remains for himself. While he says that these experiences helped him to capture the true essence of the events and get in the mind of the passengers, it was also a highly emotional experience for him. He was dedicated to the historic tragedy, and wanted to do right by all those who lost their lives on that fateful night.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/David Torcivia

Matthew McConaughey Almost Played Jack

Believe it or not, Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t the studio’s first choice for the handsome and talented Jack Dawson. The role was originally supposed to go to Matthew McConaughey, in all his “alright, alright, alright” glory. It was James Cameron who convinced his colleagues that the role needed to go to newcomer Leo, who didn’t even want it at the time. DiCaprio was initially afraid of being typecast as a pretty boy, and refused to even read the first romantic scene on set. With a little movie magic and convincing from a world-renowned director, Leo got his big break, and became the A-lister he is today.

Photo: Flickr/Aussie~mobs

“I’m The King Of The World!” Almost Didn’t Happen

Leo was very young at the time of filming, was very nervous while doing his scenes, and unintentionally messed up his lines. Sometimes he would even improvise—which is how one of the greatest movie lines of all time happened. You know that classic scene, when Jack stands up at the bow of the ship, puts his arms in the air, and screams, “I’m the king of the world!” It wasn’t in the script. At all.

The line was made up by DiCaprio, and probably shouldn’t have been in the movie—but the producers liked it so much that they kept it in the final cut. Little did they know that they’d just witnessed a (completely unplanned) moment in cinema history.