Entertainment, Movies

It’s been 20 YEARS since Leo & Kate boarded the Titanic

Vanessa Cryer by Vanessa Cryer
December 16th, 2017

It’s been twenty years exactly since Jack and Rose sailed into our hearts, with the fact-meets-fiction tale of the Titanic’s maiden voyage the backdrop to an epic movie romance between poor artist Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), and first-class socialite Rose DeWitt “I’m gonna have to get you to write that one down” Bukater, played by a then largely unknown 20-year-old, Kate Winslet.

But did you know the stars of ‘Titanic’ were nearly Captain Jack Sparrow and Rachel Green?? I know, right?! Here are some other facts about your favourite movie that you may be surprised to learn…

  • That’s right – Tom Cruise, Chris O’Donnell, Christian Bale, Johnny Depp and even Matthew ‘alright alright alright’ McConaughey were all considered for the lead role of Jack Dawson before my boy Leo snagged the part. A palooza of actresses were in the running for our girl Rose, with Drew Barrymore, Reece Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman and even Madonna (DA FUQ??!!?!?) all considered.
  • Industry insiders initially thought the movie was going to be one big flop. Over-schedule and ridiculously over-budget, this James Cameron-directed historical drama ended up costing over $200 million dollars, meaning it had to break all box office records just to cover costs, which of course it did. Following its release in December 1997, it became the highest-grossing movie of all-time, raking in a staggering $2 BILLION dollars, until another James Cameron-helmed blockbuster, ‘Avatar’, took over its mantle, earning $2.8 billion in 2009.
  • ‘Titanic’ went on to break all kinds of records, equalling the most-nominated movie in Oscars history, tying with the 1950 film All About Eve with 14 nominations (‘La La Land’ also tied for this record amount of noms earlier this year).
  • The ship’s exterior was built in a giant tank in Mexico, where James Cameron pumped it full of freezing cold water from the Pacific Ocean. He apparently threatened to fire anyone who dared to get out of the tank to use the bathroom whilst filming the lifeboat scenes, meaning that more than one of the actors actually peed in the tank. It’s no wonder so many of the cast ended up with hypothermia! You can see the genuine shock on Kate Winslet’s face in that scene where our axe-wielding heroine goes to rescue a hand-cuffed Jack and let’s out a gasp as she hits the water. Refusing to wear a wetsuit for the shoot, Kate suffered pneumonia as a result of her craft.
  • Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only health-related incident on set. The catering was alleged to have been spiked with the drug PCP leading 80 crew to suffer hallucinations and vomiting as a result. The dodgy person responsible was never caught.


  • James Cameron painstakingly recreated every single detail to match the real Titanic, down to the china patterns he used in the first-class dining hall. But one thing he did intend to be fictitious was the names of his lead characters. It was only after the movie came out that diehard fans discovered the grave stone of a real J. Dawson, Joseph Dawson, who died aboard the Titanic. His tombstone is the most widely visited at Fairview Lawn cemetery where he is buried alongside many other Titanic victims.
  • The heartbreaking scene of the old couple who decide to go down with the ship, lying in their bed was based on a real-life couple, Ida and Isidor Straus, who refused to be separated. Ida was apparently offered a seat on a lifeboat but she refused to leave her husband, saying “As we have lived together, so we shall die together.”
  • Rose says “Jack” no less than 80 times, and that’s not even counting all the times she lovingly refers to him as “Mr Dawson”. Jack only says Rose’s name 50 times.
  • The movie’s line “I’m the king of the world!” was ad-libbed by Leonardo DiCaprio. Kate Winslet also went a bit rogue, suggesting the line “Jack, this is where we first met!” in the scene where she clings to Jack as the ship begins to sink.
  • When Jack sketches the now infamous nude portrait of Rose, it is actually James Cameron’s hands doing the drawing. Whilst Kate was getting make up applied to her naked body prior to shooting the scene, an oblivious Leo knocked to come in and have a chat. Instead of covering up, she decided to let him in, figuring that he was going to see it all soon anyway!


  • The pairing of Leo and Kate set the stage for a now 20-year friendship. They are each other’s biggest cheerleader at awards ceremonies and Kate’s kids apparently even ask why Uncle Leo is on the front cover of magazines in the supermarket! They are #friendshipgoals personified, but there’s a part of me that believes Kate is playing a long game to bag bachelor Leo and I am HERE.FOR.IT.
  • People continue to bait me with the whole ‘they could have both fit on that door’ debate and God help me if I don’t get drawn into the argument every single time. Kate herself even went on record just weeks ago saying she reckons they could have both fit.

But most impressive is the three Adelaide teenagers who took out the Year 10 section of the National Maths Talent Quest by using their own research to prove that Jack and Kate could have survived if they had both stayed on the door and put their life jackets underneath it to stay afloat.

A knife in my heart, but fucking hats off to you legendary ladies, proving that ‘Titanic’ continues to touch audiences, 20 years later.

Catch our podcast version of our On the Couch chat with actress Sally Obermeder below, then come hang out in podcast land with us by subscribing to Show+Tell The Podcast here.