Weird But True Behind-The-Scenes Stories From The Set Of 'Titanic'

On occasion, legendary stories come from the filming of epic movies. Take Titanic, for example. Given the fact it's one of the highest-grossing, most critically acclaimed films of all time, it's hardly surprising there is an abundance of behind-the-scenes stories from Titanic - many of these tales are dark or downright weird.

Helmed by writer and director James Cameron, the pitch for Titanic was initially Romeo and Juliet set on a sinking ship. However, 20th Century Fox was hesitant yet eager to develop a working relationship with Cameron; they agreed to co-finance the film. Titanic started production in 1996 with a budget of $200 million.

All the studio support and seemingly endless cash flow couldn't prevent crazy things from occurring behind the scenes, and the lore behind the filming of Titanic is almost as entertaining as the movie itself.


  • Kate Winslet Refused To Wear A Wetsuit - And Got Pneumonia

    Almost every Titanic cast member had to spend extended periods of time in a massive, on-set water tank during filming. Sourced directly from the Pacific Ocean, the water for these tanks were freezing.

    Most cast members wore wetsuits for protection, but one notable holdout was Kate Winslet. She refused to wear one because she'd thought she'd be too aware of it - thus, it'd negatively affect her performance. She got pneumonia as a result.

  • Someone Laced The Crew's Food With PCP

    On the final evening of filming in Nova Scotia, the Titanic cast and crew sat down to eat during their break. Clam chowder was on the menu, but unbeknownst to the Titanic folks, someone had laced it with PCP. Eighty cast and crew members, including James Cameron and Bill Paxton, started hallucinating, and dozens had to go to the hospital.

    No one found out who peppered the PCP in the chowder, but set painter Marilyn McAvoy remembered how it tasted:

    The chowder was unbelievable. People were going back for second bowls. I really thought about going back because it was so good. And I think that was part of the problem: people ate a lot more than usual because it was so delicious.

  • Matthew McConaughey Was Almost Cast As Jack
    Photo: Ranaroyale / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Matthew McConaughey Was Almost Cast As Jack

    All right, all right, all right: yes, the world might have had a dramatically different Jack Dawson. In 2017, Kate Winslet revealed how Matthew McConaughey was the studio's first choice for the role of Jack. She told Stephen Colbert:

    I auditioned with Matthew, isn’t that weird? Never said that in public before. I auditioned with Matthew, which was completely fantastic. It just wouldn’t have been the whole "Jack and Rose, Kate and Leo" thing.

  • Lindsay Lohan Was Almost Cast As Cora

    Lindsay Lohan was years away from Mean Girls, superstardom, and questionable life choices when she auditioned for the role of Jack's "best girl" Cora Cartmell in Titanic; she was eight-years-old at the time.

    Cameron reportedly wanted her for the role, but he ultimately believed her flame-red hair would confuse viewers, especially since both Rose and her mother had flame-red hair as well. The part of Cora eventually went to Alexandrea Owens.