Kate Winslet Rolling Stone Cover Story
- March 1998 Excerpt Re: Leo
Titanic was filmed on a strip of industrial peninsula just south of the California-Mexico border. The chowder at an early cast party was spiked with PCP, a kind of acid-frat revenge gesture against Cameron. An entire studio was constructed on Rosarito Beach, with the ship built ninety percent to scale By the midway point, when cast and crew lived on four hours of sleep, Cameron took bets on who would collapse first. For the last three months of night shooting, Winslet would finish work at seven in the morning and climb into bed hearing the lobster boats leaving their docks to fish. On set, she trained herself to focus on the water, "because if you looked in the other direction, you had the disgusting Rosarito Road and trucks going by and a nasty, barren hill."

What carried Winslet through the filming was DiCaprio. "Did Kate mention that they were really there for each other?" Cameron asks me. "On a long shoot, especially as you get into, like, month five, you're just in a siege." They spent hours with one another, keeping their energy up. As Winslet describes Rosarito, it has the sound of a seven-month-long family dinner, with DiCaprio and Winslet trying to scare up fun in the basement. "We were kind of the two goofy kids on the set," she explains. "Y'know, working with Leonardo DiCaprio - he's a bit gorgeous, and I was worried that I was going to be bowled over by him, or that he was going to find me all stuffy and Shakespearean and English. But the second we met, we just completely clicked." They hit it off the way freshmen at college have hit it off for decades. "We'd do the most ridiculous things to each other," she recalls. "He'd be tickling me, groping me, winding me up. And I'd be doing the same thing back, sort of grabbing his bum."

DiCaprio, 22, seems surprised that Winslet has told me this; his voice turns official. "She was my best friend for seven months," he says slowly. "We'd unload the stresses of the shoot to each other, vent to each other, watch out for each other. Kate was just the perfect person to work with because she was very much one of the guys, and it would have been much harder without her. We were partners."

"Grossing Kate out was purely Leo's job," says Billy Zane, who plays her rich, unappealing fiance in Titanic. "He got really good at it. If he wasn't rolling back his eyelids, he was making objets d'art out of bodily fluids." Cameron recalls that DiCaprio had to wear a long coat for much of the shoot. "He would, like, fart in it," says Cameron, "and then sweep the coat over her face. I mean, if anybody else in the world did that, they'd get slapped, and the other person would walk away and not talk to them for a week. With Leo, Kate would just crack up."

When tabloids tried to do the matchmaking work of turning the friendship into something sexier, Winslet says she and DiCaprio would read the gossip items and laugh. "Just the notion of that was insane - it would have been absolutely like incest. I have the relationship with Leo that all the women in the world would envy," says Winslet, misapprehending just what kind of relationship the world's women would want to have with the angelic-featured star of Romeo and Juliet. Winslet says that DiCaprio would ask her whether she thought he was handsome: "He would say, `So, um, do you really think that?' I'd say to him, `You are absolutely stunning, you complete bastard. How do you do it when you've only had two hours sleep?'"

Between shots, Winslet says, she and DiCaprio would snuggle under a blanket in his trailer and talk about sex. "You know, some very, very personal things, asking each other for advice," she says. "Not necessarily comparing notes but sort of, `No, don't do it like that, do it like this.' He's very good at that. I have to say, a lot of those sexual tips he's given me have worked. And I know it's vice versa." When I tell Winslet the tips might also be useful to our readers, she smiles and shakes her head. "No, it's too despicable," she says. "In fact, it can get really graphic. It's going to turn into a porn piece."

Winslet has only one sweet regret about her relationship with DiCaprio. It was during the scene in which Rose and Jack make love in a Renault touring car in the hold of the ship: steamed windows, trembling actors. "Doing that scene," she says, "it so wasn't us. And yet we were so locked into what all that had to be about. The Rose in me was really sort of loving the Jack in him, actually. And even though I didn't feel that way about Leo, it was quite nice to sort of feel that way in the scene. It was quite lovely. And then, y'know, the camera stopped rolling, and he gets up and walks off, and the scene's done. And I remember lying there thinking, `What a shame that's over.' Because it was quite nice. It was."

Winslet recalls that she and DiCaprio would sometimes lie on the set smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and staring up at the stars. Other times, she would watch him play Tomb Raider on Nintendo or they would sing to each other - the Bette Midler hit "Wind Beneath My Wings," an indirect, on-site spoof of the Titanic scene in which Jack leads Rose to the prow of the ship and tells her to close her eyes and spread out her arms. When Winslet had an attack of vertigo on the back of the upended poop deck - spending a week in harnesses suspended l00 feet in the air - DiCaprio calmed her down. "I just told her we were safe," he says. "She believed me."

One night, very late, Winslet and DiCaprio were lying on the deck during a break. An assistant approached for food orders. "Leo was so tired," Winslet recalls; he had his head on Winslet's stomach and asked for a sandwich. "The assistant asked, `What do you want on it?' and Leo said, `Oh, Kate will tell you.' And Leo just kind of fell asleep. And I did know exactly what he wanted - this kind of cheese and no tomato and no pickle. I absolutely knew. And I thought, `God, that's really weird that I know this person so well.' It was brilliant."

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