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How Old Was Rose In Titanic? Why The Character And Actors' Ages Are Important

Audiences around the world fell in love with Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) in 1997's "Titanic." The transformation she goes went through to lead the life she wants for herself immediately endeared her to young audiences at the time who identified with her struggles. However, it might surprise some viewers to learn how old Rose was in the film compared to the actresses who brought her to life. 

While on the titular doomed voyage in 1912, Rose is 17. Kate Winslet, on the other hand, was 20 years old when she was cast in the coveted role in 1996. By the time the $200 million epic completed filming in early 1997, Winslet had turned 21 years old, making her four years older than her screen counterpart by this point. 

On the other end of the spectrum was actress Gloria Stuart who portrayed Rose in the modern day. Her recollections of her time on the Titanic that she shares with the research crew act as a framing device. While the character was 100 years old in the film, Stuart was 87 at the time, making her nearly 15 years younger than the role. 

From "Grease" to "Riverdale," audiences are usually in the know when a performer doesn't match the age of their screen persona. The obviousness of this can be distracting when the gap is so significant that the actors fail to match the physical and emotional characteristics of their intended age. Thankfully, this wasn't the case with either Winslet or Stuart. Their Oscar-nominated performances imbued rich believability and nuance into the role. And in the case of Winslet, let's just say "Titanic" wouldn't hold up as well if she was really 17 when making the film. 

The movie would be way more uncomfortable if the stars were their characters' ages

It's hard to imagine anyone else capturing the innocence, charm, and determination that Kate Winslet imbued into Rose in "Titanic." But if learning that the "Revolutionary Road" star was four years older than her character shattered the illusion, things will probably be more sound when you discover her love interest's age.

The starstruck romance between Kate Winslet's Rose and Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack Dawson is the beating heart of "Titanic." The radiant chemistry from both actors can largely be attributed to their similar ages at the time of filming, with Winslet being 20 and DiCaprio at age 21 while making the film. However, while Rose is only supposed to be 17 in the movie, Jack's character is a 20-year-old young adult. Such an age gap was more sociably acceptable during that period, as Rose's overbearing fiancé Caledon Hockley (Billy Zane) is 30. However, if you think about it too long, it doesn't make the relationship between a young adult and a minor any less weird.

Given the intimate moments shared between Jack and Rose in the film, it would have made scenes such as the nude drawing section far harder to stomach if Winslet and DiCaprio matched the ages of their characters in real life. Thankfully, director James Cameron and company steered clear of this direction, helping keep "Titanic" a beloved classic for many.