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Kate Winslet on terrifying near-death experience on Titanic set: ‘I had no breath left’

KATE WINSLET skyrocketed to fame as Rose Dewitt Bukater in Titanic, but the role almost cost her life.

Decades after the James Cameron classic released, Titanic is still a prominent entity in pop culture. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are almost inseparable from the Titanic film, where they starred as star-crossed lovers Rose Dewitt Bukater and Jack Dawson. 

Although the film saw many fictional deaths in the sinking of the Titanic, Winslet almost found her own on-set, twice. 

The cast weren’t in the icy waters of the North Atlantic ocean but the large pool of water they filmed in was still cold enough to give the actress hypothermia. 

She revealed this when speaking to Stephen Colbert on The Late Show, candidly saying: “I was really f*****g cold!” 

The water was not done tormenting Winslet though, as she also almost drowned and received a handful of injuries during a scene in the sinking ship. 

The scene sees Jack and Rose attempting to escape the ship as water pours in but they find themselves trapped by a gate. 

Kate Winslet skyrocketed to fame after her role in 1997’s Titanic
Winslet suffered a few bumps, cuts and bruises during some of the water scenes (Image: GETTY)

Once the scene had been shot, the crew opened the gate to let the actors out, but Winslet almost didn’t make it. 

Her jacket had been snagged on some iron bars, leaving Winslet stuck under the water. 

She told The Los Angeles Times in 1997: “I had no breath left. I thought I’d burst.”

Submerging the ship was a problematic mission for the crew as well, with the iconic wooden staircase being a particular issue. 

The staircase was made of actual wood, which is unfortunately buoyant, meaning when production submerged the room it was situated in, the stairs began to float. 

Titanic also sparked a lifelong friendship between Winslet and DiCaprio (Image: GETTY)

Cameron revealed the concerning result in the National Geographic documentary Titanic: 20 Years Later with James Cameron. 

He said: “It all floated up, and it actually pinned two stunt players. Fortunately, they weren’t hurt, but it was a pretty scary moment.”

For all of her efforts, Winslet was not even the first choice for the character of Rose, despite being later nominated for an Oscar for the role. 

Cameron had been browsing a few bigger names in the industry to fill the spot of leading lady, including Reese Witherspoon and Winona Ryder. 

Winslet had her heart set on the role, adamantly telling Cameron “you are really mad if you don’t cast me” and was seemingly persistent enough to succeed.

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One particular aspect of the film, Jack’s tragic death as he freezes in the water holding onto Rose’s hand, has divided fans for decades. 

In her conversation with Colbert, Winslet confirmed that Jack could have survived as there was plenty of space on the door she was floating on. 

She exclaimed: “He should have tried harder to get on that door.”

Winslet and Colbert comedically re-enacted the scene, but rather than the iconic line “I’ll never let go Jack”, Winslet declared: “Come on, darling there’s room for two!”. 

Days before the 2017 interview on The Late Show, director James Cameron had stated that Jack could never have fitted on the door. 

Winslet argued that there was space for Jack on the floating door, if he had just asked (Image: GETTY)

Referencing the script, Cameron reasoned: “It says on page 147 that Jack dies.”

Cameron noted in a conversation with Vanity Fair that Jack’s death is what gives the film meaning. 

He said: “The film is about death and separation; he had to die. So whether it was that, or whether a smoke stack fell on him, he was going down. 

“It’s called art, things happen for artistic reasons, not for physics reasons.”

Titanic aired on Channel 4 on August 28. 

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