It has been over 20 years since director James Cameron created his feature-length masterpiece, Titanic. The movie, based on the tragic sinking of the R.M.S Titanic in 1912, captured the hearts of critics and audiences alike. It won 11 Oscars, including awards for Best Picture and Best Director. The film also helped jet set careers for stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, whose characters fall in love aboard the ship before its tragic demise.

But telling this story and conveying the heartbreaking disaster was no easy feat. Many know Cameron to be a perfectionist on set. This is what makes it so interesting to learn what life was like for the cast and crew in order to bring his vision to fruition. Here are some of the most fascinating facts behind the making of Titanic.

Timed to Perfection

Director James Cameron strived to make his movie as real as possible and he wanted to connect to the true story as much as he could. With this in mind, he made sure that the entire movie, besides the opening credits and present-day scenes, added up to a total of two hours and forty minutes.

This was the exact time it took for the real Titanic to sink in 1912. In addition, the collision with the iceberg both in real life and in the movie lasted exactly 37 seconds.

Kate was Meant to be Rose

Kate Winslet was very adamant that the role of Rose was meant to be hers. Before landing the role, the actress would send James Cameron daily notes assuring him that she was the only woman for the job.

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She wrote to the director that he should not bother seeing anyone else. It seemed this tactic worked in her favor. Her persistence won over Cameron and he decided to hire Winslet for the role.

Cameron’s Shipwreck Fascination

Before James Cameron began filming the movie, the director went on numerous diving expeditions to see the remains of the Titanic for himself. He was fascinated by the shipwreck and describes his deep-sea dives as an emotional experience.

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His time underwater, seeing the ship is what inspired him to make such a monumental movie. In total, James made 12 dives and ended up spending more time with the Titanic than the actual passengers did before the tragedy.

A Real Love Story

Although the story of Jack and Rose was fiction, the movie does acknowledge a real relationship onboard the Titanic. You might remember the heartbreaking scene that pans through the sinking ship, showing the various passengers as they realize their fate.

The People Could Not Get Enough

Titanic was one of the first movies to be released on VHS while still playing in theaters. The demand to watch the film on the big screen was not wearing thin, and theaters across the globe did not want to let the fans down.

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As a result, cinemas continued screening the movie longer than usual. So much so that Paramount had to send replacement reels to theaters who had played the movie so many times that they had worn out their original copies.

Hard Work Pays Off

We already made it clear that James Cameron worked night and day to make this masterpiece as monumental as it still stands today. Not only did Cameron forfeit a large portion of his salary while making the movie, he also took on an unheard-of amount of tasks behind the scenes.

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Ever heard the phrase, if you want something done right, do it yourself? It seems like Cameron was a strong believer in this notion. Titanic was the first Best Picture Academy Award winner to be produced, directed, written and edited by the same person, our man James.