Titanic is undoubtedly one of the most iconic movies of the 1990s. Directed by James Cameron, it was the moment that announced both Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio to the world as genuine stars. A dramatic adaptation of the 1912 maritime disaster that sank the eponymous passenger liner, from Billy Zane’s loathable character to the contentious ending, many memorable aspects of the film saw it intensely permeate popular culture.
One of the Titanic scenes seared into the collective consciousness is when DiCaprio’s lowly artist Jack teaches his love interest from the upper class, Rose, how to “spit like a man”. Jack hocks up some big ones, making it by far the grossest moment in the movie.
It transpires that both DiCaprio and Winslet were uncomfortable with the scene during filming, with both actors wanting Cameron to cut it, alongside many others involved in production. However, the director stuck to its guns, and it became one of the movie’s most memorable scenes.
Demonstrating the broad scope of push-back that the scene faced, Cameron’s co-producer didn’t like it, and neither did the president of the production company, Paramount. The producer hated it so much that she even “begged” him to omit it from the final cut.
“I wrote this spitting scene where Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) shows her (Kate Winslet) how to spit. The president of my company (Paramount) begged me to take it out,” Cameron told The Buffalo News in 1997. “She hated it. My co-producer didn’t like it. The people at Fox didn’t like the scene. Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t like it. Kate Winslet didn’t like the spitting scene when we all sat around reading it the first time.”
Cameron, who was notorious at the time for his unwavering character, held firm, and eventually, the scene’s detractors changed their minds. Then, when the film was released, audiences liked the scene, which taught him to always trust his instincts on future projects.
“I finally got them to fall in love with it. It’s probably the second or third highest-rated scene in the film,” he explained. “The way I do it is if I have a nagging shadow of a doubt about something, and if I hear the same thing from other people, I’ll act on it. But if I believe strongly in something, I don’t care how many people tell me it’s wrong. It’s got to be a personal issue.”