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James Cameron Admits Kate Winslet May Have Been Traumatized While Making Titanic

Few blockbusters have achieved the success of "Titanic." James Cameron's epic look at the famous 1912 disaster went further than previous attempts to tell the story; prior to his ode to the lost ship, viewers only had the dramatic "A Night to Remember" for their historical narrative. One of that film's biggest draws upon release in 1958 was its ship sinking scenes. At the time, seeing the ship enter the icy waters intact was a marvel for audiences, and Cameron would change all of that with a striking sequence of his own.

An interesting factor that led to the success of "Titanic" was its historical accuracy. Cameron — already fixated on oceanic exploration — meticulously mapped out every point of the legendary ship. and he also dealt with one aspect that "A Night to Remember" didn't know at the time of filming. The discovery of Titanic's shipwreck in the '80s revealed it had actually split in two during its devastating plunge, something the director memorably recreated in his 1997 film (via Digital Photo).

Cameron's fascination and devotion to the project extended to casting. It was essential for the director to capture life before the sinking through fictional characters and representations of real passengers who sailed on this tragic voyage. He found his leads in Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet; the latter underwent a grueling shoot that would change her entire career. Years later, it's causing both Winslet and Cameron to rethink their earlier work together.

Winslet endured a challenging shoot

Filming the epic drama was an arduous experience for those involved. Cast and crew experienced various illnesses from their time in the water and lengthy shooting days made it all the more perilous (via /Film). For Winslet, that meant undergoing some potentially dangerous conditions. She showed off a deep knee gash to Los Angeles Times reporter David Gritten and relayed how she had experienced a chipped elbow bone as well as bruises. During the interview, the actress spoke about what Cameron brought to the project, calling him "a really tough nut to crack" and going on to state "there were times I was genuinely frightened of him."

Over two decades later, Cameron is reevaluating the shoot. Looking back on Winslet's filming experience has given the director a more open perspective to the challenges she faced at the time. "I think Kate came out of Titanic a bit traumatised by the scale of the production and her responsibility within it," he told Radio Times (via The Independent).

Cameron had someone else in mind for Rose

Winslet may have seemed like the perfect Rose for Cameron's "Titanic" but the director wasn't convinced; his initial intention for the character was something along the lines of Gwyneth Paltrow. Cameron initially thought casting Winslet could be a major mistake. One of the filmmaker's biggest issues with the actress was her previous work. "She had done a couple of other historical dramas as well, and she was getting a reputation as 'Corset Kate' doing historical stuff," he told GQ (via CNN).

He also had a notion about what viewers and critics might say about giving the young Winslet a starring role; though this might seem like a small concern, Cameron is, if nothing else, known for intricacy and detail in every part of the filmmaking process. Later in the interview, he disclosed what changed his mind. All of the doubts were put to rest when he finally met with the actress and found her to be fantastic.

Winslet and Cameron are working together again

With so much time now passed, it might come as a surprise to see Winslet starring once again in a Cameron helmed film. "Avatar: The Way of Water" brings the filmmaker back to Pandora for another journey with the Na'vi. Winslet joins original cast members Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, and Sigourney Weaver.

In the film, Winslet plays Metkayina diver Ronal; this new character proves to be a powerful addition to a story rooted in familial connections and overcoming the odds. It's a role that goes into areas the actress never encountered before, namely Cameron's new motion capture technology. While that might seem like enough of challenge, she was presented with an even harder ask from the director. Winslet, along with other cast members, filmed underwater sequences that pushed their limits. The actress had to learn breathing techniques that would allow her to minimize breathing for long takes — holding her breath for upwards of seven minutes.

The time spent working with Cameron again gave Winslet a chance to clear up some misconceptions about her comments during the "Titanic" years. It also showed her a very different perspective of the filmmaker she had met decades ago. The actress said that words of praise were left off of interviews back then, and she also talked about what makes Cameron so different now (via The Times).

"I loved doing Avatar with Jim – he is much more calm now," Winslet said of the director. For her, the pressure of making this film played a part in his actions at the time. "I can't imagine the pressure. As we get older we learn how to say, 'I made a mistake.' We all get better at that, don't we?"