When Titanic hit the screens in 1997, it became an overnight sensation and reached Box Office ratings of well, titanic proportions. In fact, the movie held the top spot at the all-time Box Office Top 100 films for an impressive 12 years, until it was toppled by Avatar in 2009, which incidentally, was by the same director- James Cameron. It currently sits snugly in the third spot, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), knocked Avatar into the runner-up position.
While the movie, launched two decades ago, created a starlet out of Kate Winslet, it hurtled Leonardo DiCaprio, fresh off his success from Romeo + Juliet (1996), a story about yet another pair of star-crossed lovers, into superstardom. With the 20th anniversary of the film, let’s take a look at the cast of Titanic, where are they now?
Leonardo DiCaprio (Jack Dawson)
DiCaprio was already a star before appearing in Titanic (when he was just 23) and became an even bigger one after. Life beyond Titanic sees the once child actor transit to more adult roles. DiCaprio didn’t just take on mature roles, he actively pursued roles with great diversity, including a good number of biopics. He’s played King Louis in The Man In the Iron Mask (1998), Frank Abagnale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can (2002), Howard Hughes in The Aviator (2004), Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and most notably, Hugh Glass in The Revenant (2015), where he finally took home the much coveted Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. In between, he starred in a good many blockbusters and worked with great directors, like Martin Scorsese in The Departed (2006), Christopher Nolan in Inception (2010) and Quentin Tarantino in Django Unchained (2012).
Apart from acting, DiCaprio is a passionate advocate for climate change, “Climate change is real, it is happening right now, it is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.” It’s certainly nice to see how DiCaprio rose from playing a homeless teen on the sitcom Growing Pains and blossomed into a responsible and respectable actor with a good head on his shoulders.
Kate Winslet (Rose Dewitt Bukater)
Winslet’s breakthrough role was in Heavenly Creatures (1994) directed by Peter Jackson, where she played a teenager who helped a friend to murder her mother. But her star-turning role was undoubtedly, as Rose in Titanic, when she was only 22. Winslet almost didn’t get the role but convinced director Cameron that she’s the right choice, and she proved him right.
While Titanic exploded in all shapes and forms, Winslet’s head didn’t. Instead of accepting roles in blockbuster movies like Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Anna and the King (1999), she leaned towards independent productions, like Hideous Kinky (1998). The scale of productions didn’t matter to Winslet, her acting abilities were recognised regardless. In 2009, the British actress took home the Best Actress Award at the Academy Awards for her role in The Reader, and she continues to make waves in the industry.
Billy Zane (Cal Hockley)
Zane was a familiar name by the time he was in Titanic, most remembered as The Phantom, in 1996. As Rose’s millionaire fiancé in the movie, he played the villain everyone loves to hate. Life since Titanic has been busy for the now 51-year old actor, who alternates between starring in movies and TV series. Despite that, he’s not appeared in another blockbuster except for a short cameo in Zoolander 2.
Gloria Stuart (Older version of Rose)
Gloria Stewart appeared in Titanic at the grand old age of 86. In fact, she was the only person on set who was alive when the Titanic tragedy occurred. Acting since 1932 when she was 22, her role in Titanic was her biggest; it earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1998 and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. After Titanic, Stuart continued to act until 2004. She passed away in 2010, at the ripe age of 100, from respiratory failure.
Kathy Bates (Molly Brown)
Bates was best known for her award-winning role in 1991’s Misery before appearing as Brown in Titanic, whom we all remember as the loud, friendly lady who lent Jack his tux. Bates worked steadily after Titanic, appearing in high profile movies and nominated for two more Oscars for her work in Primary Colors (1998) and About Schmidt (2002). Today, she is known as much for her movies as her TV roles. She’s now best remembered for her characters in the American Horror Story (AHS) series and had won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie in 2015 for AHS.
Victor Garber (Thomas Andrews)
Garber was already an acting veteran when he took on the role of Thomas Andrew, a real historical figure who helped design the Titanic. He continued to work in the movies and TV, with memorable roles in movies like Milk (2008) and Argo (2012). Of late, he’s been in some pretty exciting TV series, as Dr. Martin Stein in The Flash, which has made a cross-over to Legends of Tomorrow.
Bill Paxton (Brock Lovett)
Paxton was a frequent Cameron collaborator, having worked with him in The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986) and True Lies (1994) before Titanic. His career post-Titanic continued, with A Simple Plan (1998), Vertical Limit (2000), Edge of Tomorrow (2014) and Nightcrawler (2014). He was also widely known for his role as Bill Henrickson in the TV Series Big Love. Unfortunately, Paxton passed away in February 2017 following complications from a stroke, at 62.
Ioan Gruffudd (Fifth Officer Lowe)
He’s best remembered as Mr. Fantastic or Reed Richards in The Fantastic Four (2005), but back in 1997, he was a complete unknown as Fifth Officer Lowe. Titanic was only Welsh actor Gruffudd’s second movie outing, and since then, he’s moved on to better things. As Mr. Fantastic, he’s starred in two Fantastic Four movies before the series rebooted. He played Lancelot opposite Clive Owen in Antoine Fuqua's King Arthur (2004), and has also lent his voice to animated series like Ben 10 and Justice League: Unlimited, and has a more than a handful of TV series under his belt.