Back To Titanic: A Kate And Leo Retrospective

Like so many of our generation, we have a never-ending love of the Kate Winslet/Leonardo DiCaprio friendship. Since the days when we didn’t have the internet at home and had to horde copies of magazines to get our Jack and Rose fix, they’ve always been either friendship or relationship goals. It started with the fun stories of behind-the-scenes antics on the set of Titanic, and Kate and Leo’s frequent awards show appearances only fueled the flames. Mercifully, since 1997 both of them have been consistently on the nominee or presenter block – unless one or the other was working, that is – so we’ve had plenty of mini-reunions to fawn over. Some of us actually ship them as a real life couple. Others think shipping real humans is creepy, but love the good-natured platonic friendship between two talented actors. Whatever it is, the Winslet-DiCaprio friendship is pure magic.

With no further ado .. are you ready to go back to Titanic?

1996


Behind the scenes: Titanic: in retrospect I realized why Kate hated that wig / hairpiece/ dye job situation.

Settle in, because Titanic was where it all started and I can’t get enough of these behind the scenes photos.

Kate is warming up from the chilly water tank; Leo is exhibiting the classic Hot Boy In The Mid-90s Haircut.

I will bet you anything that Kate and Leo are responsible for some of the first viral gifs in internet history, spreading rapidly across angelfire and geocities sites alike.

Okay, last one. Only because some of you may have slow-loading computers. I could do this all day.

1997

Tiny baby Leo talking about Little Kate:

Not to be outdone, Kate had some choice words about Leo:

1998

Golden Globes: it’s hard to believe these two seemed so grown-up to us at the time, because right here they look like a pair of (rich, elegant) babies.

Kate and Leo, out to wreck us since day 1.

Let’s watch that in action, why don’t we?

 

2000

Important news in 2000: Kate could still recognize Leo by his walk; she worried about him cavorting with the Pussy Posse; all is well in their friendship:

I saw Leo the other day. I was at a party for Quills. Me and Jim were leaning up against the bar and this posse of boys came in wearing masks and Halloween gear. I recognised him from the way he walked. He ripped his mask off. He hadn’t changed a bit. Of course, he’s famous, one of the most famous actors in the world. But he’s the same person and I’d been so worried about him. He still does care about everything he does. He hasn’t just become some bullshit film star 

2004

As one did in 2004, Leo reveals all on Oprah:

2005

SAG Awards: just two unusually talented and good-looking people expressing their friendship; nothing to see here.

2007

Golden Globes: back in 1998 US Weekly would have captioned this photo “They’ll never let go… of their friendship!” and I would have hung it up in my locker.

If Kate and Leo are living their whole Awards Season lives making up for Leo not attending the 1998 Academy Awards, I think that’s fine and appropriate.

 

On the set of Revolutionary Road. Or: if Rose and Jack had survived into mid-century.

2008

Revolutionary Road UK premiere: Kate and Leo reunite on screen, proving that fan service exists in real life, too.

U.S. premiere, Kate totally just made fun of James Cameron (I imagine).

Promoting Revolutionary Road. We’re all bigger now, Kate. Because of this friendship.

And in case you need the whole interview:

Too long; didn’t listen? Here’s what you need to know:

Well, I think I can speak for both of us: we have a lot more wrinkles. Don’t we, darling? I’m proud of him, though. I can’t say that you’re taller, because you were always tall. He’s a man now; look at him — he’s just bigger. Physically you aren’t that different; you’re just less puny. – Kate Winslet

She’s still as beautiful and radiant as the day I met her. She is the consummate professional; she keeps pushing herself to an emotional truth when she’s working. That’s why I keep saying she’s the best. – Leonardo DiCaprio

2009

Golden Globes: Leo reacting to Kate’s Revolutionary Road win – their long-awaited onscreen reunion. BE STILL MY HEART (OF THE OCEAN)

Wait, do you want to see Kate thank Leo? Of course you do!

 

Golden Globes: Kate and Leo after she wins for The Reader. Yes, you read that correctly. Yes, she’s THAT talented. Damn, Kate. Damn.

 

Oscars: Leo wasn’t there but he’s here in Kate’s heart and her heart will go on and on.

Some situations are so delicate that I’d only trust Oprah with them:

2011

God bless Anna Wintour. From Kate’s Vogue Magazine profile:

He knows me better than anyone else in the world. Lots of male friendships begin as a cheeky snog. Or a little undercurrent of flirtation. But Leo and I? No. He’s my rock. I don’t know what the f–k I would have done if I hadn’t had him. – Kate Winslet

We literally grew up together. And in every major life event we’ve been there as a support mechanism for each other. – Leonardo DiCaprio

 

2012

Titanic was re-released in 3D; Kate kindly graced us with some fresh behind-the-scenes anecdotes:

2013

Leo FINALLY confronts the rumors plaguing him since 1997 (that Kate nicknamed him “Farty Leo,” which I don’t actually remember, which is surprising?):

She never says that to my face. She’s the greatest person. She’s so genuine. I love that girl. She has a brand-new baby and is in love.

Because Kate and Leo CANNOT STOP TALKING ABOUT EACH OTHER (or, um, maybe it’s that we can’t stop asking?) Kate had this to say about Leo in 2013:

Leo has mastered this more than anyone I know. it’s not that he’s sort of brazen like, ‘I don’t give a fuck and I’m going to be rebellious and behave badly.’ It’s not that. It’s genuinely not caring what people think because he will not allow other people’s judgments to have any kind of impact on his life and who he is. and I have really admired that so much in him .

Also in 2013: the one thing that really softened the blow of Kate marrying a man who chose the surname Rocknroll — Leo walked her down the aisle. What does swooning feel like? Because I think I just did it.

2014

Theo or Leo? Considering we all know who Leo is and Theo is either a Huxtable or the name of a lot of babies lately, I think we all know the answer. And Kate doesn’t hesitate, either:

2016

Golden Globes: Number 1, how dare you.

More Golden Globes: I will go down with this ship.

And let’s not forget our own freak-out during our Golden Globes live blog after Leo’s name was announced for Best Actor:

T: YASSSSSSSSSS WHERE IS KATE. WHERE IS KATE. WHERE IS KATE.

M: YAYYY! But does this mean he’ll be even more cursed for the Oscars? Can they please show Kate? SHOW KATE.

IS KATE OKAY. WHERE IS SHE.

T: MAYBE SHE’S PASSED OUT BC THE LOVE OF HER LIFE JUST WON A GOLDEN GLOBE.

M: Yeah maybe she’s hidden behind a camera taking pics for her scrapbook.

T: Kate is at Eddie Redmayne’s table (I THINK) so like, just PAN OVER.

M: THANK KATE. I don’t care that she wasn’t in this.

T: I THOUGHT WHEN HE SAID “LASTLY” THAT IT WAS GOING TO END WITH “KATE WINSLET, WHO HAS BEEN WITH ME AND IN MY HEART SINCE 1996.”

M: I SAW. DID YOU SEE.

T: NO UGH I WAS LOOKING FOR LEO GIFS

M: He thanked the makeup artist or something and you could see a fuzzy Kate Winslet calling out a “woo!” so I like to think she was there just cheering at every damn thing he said.

T: I REWOUND IT. THIS IS THE GREATEST.

 

SAG Awards: What are you trying to do to me here?

 

Oscars: how is it possible that they both look even BETTER 20 years after filming Titanic? And how is it possible that Titanic was filmed 20 years ago?

 

Oh, for goodness sake.

 

Kate. Also, all of us. (Also Ned Rocknroll, but we don’t have to get into that.)

Oscars: The culmination of 20 years of love (at least on our end, but probably for Kate, too).

Remember Titanic Mania? That Was Weird, Right?

103 years ago today, the Titanic met its tragic fate. And 17 years ago today, we were all being tacky as hell. The Titanic craze of 1997-1998 was unlike any media phenomenon I’ve experienced before or since, both in how pervasive and fanatical it was, and also in that we all sort of acted super questionable.

Let’s recap a bit in case you’ve forgotten about Titanic Mania, were too young for it, or just weren’t paying attention. First, the Titanic sank. It was 1912 and a lot of people died and it was, of course, very sad. Fast forward 80-some years to late 1997. James Cameron directed a giant historical epic about the event, starring teen sensations Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. That’s when things got weird.

For as long as cinema has existed, we haven’t been able to resist portraying real-life tragedies on-screen. Want to guess how long the first Titanic movie was released after the sinking? 29 days. Not even a full month, unless the month was February, which of course it wasn’t because every mid-90s tween has the date “April 15, 1912” etched onto their soul. There were actually three Titanic movies released in 1912 alone, so it’s not like I think that James Cameron’s Titanic was unusually iffy.

The way we all reacted to that movie though – that’s what was weird. We just lost it. Keep in mind, this was a movie about a real-life disaster, and survivors were even still alive at the time. You’d think we would have maintained a bit of decorum, or solemnity, or SOMETHING, but that sunken boat became a pop culture figure along the lines of Mickey Mouse or Rocky.

Real.

We had reasons, sort of. We were both obsessed, but we were also in sixth grade. It was the beginning of being interested in “grown-up” romances instead of kid stuff, making it much more touching and serious. I was rewatching Titanic a few years ago – mind you, I could rewatch Titanic in my brain any time I wanted because I still have it memorized thanks to that two-cassette pack I got for my 12th birthday – anyway, it jumped out at me that Rose and Jack had known each other for, like, four days max. They had all the emotional investment of a one-night stand. No wonder Old Rose hadn’t mentioned the story to her family. “I’m really sad about this guy I went out Irish Dancing with one time then banged in a car and he died 80 years ago?” Get a grip, Grams.

You know, like most randos you hooked up with when you were 17.

Even though Rose and Jack were two teenagers creating the 1912 version of nude selfies, in 1998 they represented a long-gone era of decorum. The winter all of the news stations were focused on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, we wanted stories about ladies and gentlemen. Maybe that was why even people over the age of 15 lost their cool. But what happened next… I don’t have an excuse for that.

It’s like this. Liking a movie about a horrific tragedy is pretty normal. Holding themed club nights about the tragedy is not. It’s not just that Titanic sold a lot of tickets. Here are some of wacky things that we did during Titanic mania:

  • You could buy reproductions of Rose’s Heart Of The Ocean necklace, a gift for a teen girl’s forced arranged marriage that she got painted in naked one time. If memory serves, the ads ran in USA Weekend for months, maybe years.
  • A local (Rochester, NY) club held “Titanic night” which sounds like an evening when a massive code violation results in the death of hundreds. Commercials played on our top 40 station, but I’ll never know what happened at Titanic Night because I was 11.

    You can still visit a Titanic club somewhere.

  • JC Penney sold t-shirts depicting the aforementioned teen bride and a boy who’s days away from death by freezing.

    It is a shirt with a dying man on it.

  • The Titanic soundtrack was a best-seller, and a follow-up soundtrack was even released. It was the first and only time in my life that it was really cool that I’m a good tin whistle player. Teens everywhere queued up fiddle music and Edwardian novelty songs (Come Josephine In My Flying Machine, anyone?), sat on our bedspreads, and had a good cry about the souls when went down with the ship.
  • That damn Celine Dion song. Everywhere. All the time. My favorite was the version where they interspersed clips of dialog into the song. There was also a club remix, which probably was played at that club’s Titanic Night.
  • Everyone had that one friend who saw the movie something like 13 times in the theater. This led to the film staying at the top of the box office for 15 straight weeks. I know this because I checked the box office reports every week to make sure Titanic was still at its rightful place.
  • In a pre-tumblr world, you would log onto Lycos and find AngelSites and GeoCities pages about the movie and the boat. I bet if you added up all the time I’ve spent on the internet in my life, a big chunk of it was spent trawling those sites. Most included a tinny midi file of My Heart Will Go On.
  • Just about every magazine launched a “Special Collector’s Issue” about the movie.
  • Titanic vacations allowed rich people to see a shipwreck/mass grave site up close. I wished I could be so rich.
  • The New York Times book list was full of books about Titanic, including then-50-year-old A Night To Remember and a nonfiction, full-color book about the making of the movie. Yeah, I checked the book charts weekly, too.
  • Kids threw “Titanic Parties.” Kids are stupid and the parties were tacky, including 11-year-old girls – commonly known to be the worst type of human – screaming “I’m The King Of The World!” throughout the graveyard where the frozen bodies of Titanic victims had been buried.

    SINKING SHIP WATERMELON BOWL. The grapes represent dead humans? But props to this mom for just being like “you want a Titanic party? Whatever. I’ll make lifeboat cupcakes.” I bet she’s fun.

  • It was also a popular prom theme… and you thought your prom was a disaster.
  • Websites popped up selling dress patterns so that you, too, could have the grace and panache of Rose Dewitt Bukater. I’m not ashamed to say that I would wear that swishy chiffon one right now.
  • In the area where sixth graders congregated before school, there was a massive snow-pile for the duration of the winter, as is typical of the North. What’s not typical is naming it after the iceberg that ultimately took the lives of thousands.
  • I won a game of charades by pantomiming Titanic.
  • Robert Ballard, who discovered the Titanic, visited my school to kick off a science program, the JASON project. A lot of 10-year-olds were suddenly very into marine biology.

Long after the film was released, Titanic Mania has lingered. In 2012 you could attend a cruise above the underwater gravesite, which hosted a huge fete on the 100-year anniversary of the sinking. You can visit Pinterest to learn to bake a Titanic cake, and tumblr has every Caledon Hockley gif you ever wanted.  But make no mistake: Titanic mania could never happen in the uniquely, grotesquely weird way it did today. We move through our obsessions more quickly than that. And although individuals joked about the story, the high-level schmaltz that pervaded our culture just wouldn’t stand. There would be jokey memes within the first day of release, and a #waterygrave hashtag in a week. Titanic mania was a strange combination of sentimentality and cheese. It was freaking weird, and I loved it, and my heart will go on.