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Why Kate Winslet was “genuinely frightened” of James Cameron


One of the most well-known disasters ever to happen in the western world, the tragic true story of the sinking of the Titanic is a story of great human engineering being foiled by nature. No doubt made more famous by James Cameron’s 1997 film that imbued the story with sentimental romance, tragedy and heartache, the iconic film Titanic was one of the most influential films of the 1990s. 

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a poor artist and Kate Winslet as a rebellious aristocrat, the two unlikely partners fall desperately in love despite the prohibitions of class barriers. In addition to the film’s immense cultural popularity, Titanic also received 11 Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture among multiple other prizes.

Despite this, the production of Titanic was by no means smooth sailing, running into several issues largely due to the sheer size of the film itself. Reflecting on the production process, director James Cameron recalled, “I had dark hours on Titanic as dire as Piranha II. We missed the iceberg by that much. But I’m at my best when I’m neck-deep in ice water trying to work out how we’re going to keep the lights turned on when the water hits the bulbs”. 

In the five months of filming it took to capture the 1997 blockbuster, many cast members came down with colds, flu, and even kidney infections after spending several hours in cold water, including Kate Winslet who suffered from hypothermia and claimed she would not work with James Cameron again unless she earned “a lot of money” according to The Independent. In one scene, the actor was even dragged underwater when her coat got caught on a gate, almost drowning as a result. 

The production was long and arduous, causing much physical and emotional turmoil, with Winslet telling Extra that at the end of the day she would be knackered, “I would have so many bruises that the hair and makeup girls would come and say, ‘Oh, can we just photograph your arms?’ And they would photograph my deep bloody bruises”. Continuing, she added, “But we were all like that. It was unavoidable, and it didn’t matter how much safety we had in place. Didn’t matter how brilliant our stunt coordinator was and how taken care of we were. It was completely unavoidable”. 

As a result, Winslet reported she was “genuinely frightened” of director James Cameron, stating, “He has a temper like you wouldn’t believe,” in an interview with the LA Times. Despite claims that Kate Winslet would never work with James Cameron ever again, Kate Winslet has since agreed to return to work with the director on the upcoming blockbuster sci-fi sequel, Avatar 2 in 2022. 

Until the arrival of the much-anticipated sequel, take a look at the trailer for the original Avatar below.