James Cameron cast short extras to make Titanic look bigger

James Cameron has revealed a trick he deployed on the set of Titanic, with the director admitting he cast shorter actors to emphasise the size of the ship.

The 1997 film broke numerous critical and commercial records during its release, with its impact still enduring over 25 years after its release.

The director spoke with The LA Times ahead of the upcoming 4K remaster for the sweeping epic, revealing that he occasionally used his ingenuity amidst all the meticulous planning.

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“We only cast short extras so it made our set look bigger. Anybody above 5’8, we didn’t cast them. It’s like we got an extra million dollars of value out of casting,” he revealed, before talking about other aspects of production.

“If the studio had had their way, they would have cut the entire ship sinking,” he said. “The smartest thing we did was do the sinking last. It wasn’t because of strategy – it was simply because you sink the set last otherwise it doesn’t look so good the next morning when you bring it back up.”

Cameron had previously spoken about the eternal debate regarding the end of the film, which saw Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) meet his demise as he saved Rose (Kate Winslet), with fans bemoaning his inability to stay on the wardrobe door.


20th Century Fox//Paramount

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Cameron has since maintained that the doomed lovers couldn’t have stayed together on the makeshift raft, with the director saying: “We have done a scientific study to put this whole thing to rest and drive a stake through its heart once and for all,” he said.

“We have since done a thorough forensic analysis with a hypothermia expert who reproduced the raft from the movie… We took two stunt people who were the same body mass of Kate and Leo and we put sensors all over them and inside them.

“We put them in ice water and tested to see whether they could have survived through a variety of methods and the answer was [that] only one could survive.”

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Reporter, Digital Spy George is a freelance writer who specialises in Movies and TV. After graduating with a degree in Film Studies and Journalism from De Montfort University, in which he analysed the early works of Richard Linklater for his dissertation, he wrote for several websites for GRV Media.  His film tastes vary from blockbusters like Mission: Impossible and John Wick to international directors such as Paolo Sorrentino and Hirokazu Kore-eda, and has attended both the London and Berlin film festivals.