Paxton goes back to 'Titanic'
Bill Paxton in "Titanic" (Handout)
Just 10 days away from the 100th anniversary of the tragedy that inspired the 1997 film, James Cameron's Titanic is being re-launched in 3D in theatres Wednesday. Actor Bill Paxton is excited.
"Maybe a lot of people will be seeing it again and a lot of people will remember where they were the first time they saw it -- I certainly do," Paxton says from London, where the 3D version premiered. "And the memory of that, enhanced by this 3D, will make it have another shining in a way."
Titanic already shines in Hollywood history. Despite (or because of) the melodramatic love story between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet that is the fictional heart of the real-life saga, Titanic still ranks number two on the all-time blockbuster list. It generated $1.84 billion worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. Only Avatar, with a staggering $2.78 billion, is ahead.
The new 3D release will allow the 1997 film to close the gap with Cameron's other legendary hit by a few million. But that's not why Paxton agreed to attend the London premiere. Instead, it was friendship. "Jim calls, I answer -- absolutely!"
Paxton, who plays the modern Titanic treasure hunter caught up in hearing the flashback story from 1912, says it is no surprise that Titanic the movie is still being talked about today. And not just because of the 100th anniversary of the sinking, which still ranks among the biggest marine disasters of all time.
"There was so much negative press before the film came out," Paxton says. "But knowing Jim -- and I already knew Jim for 17 years at that point -- I thought: "Here is one of the greatest filmmakers to ever come down the pike taking on one of the greatest stories of all time.' Knowing his passion for the story and his passion for the sea, I said: 'This is going to be remarkable!' "
For Paxton, it was and still is remarkable. "When I went to the premiere at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre with my wife, I remember when the lights went down and I started to hear the strains of that melody that would become this huge hit song, I was like: 'Oh my gosh, this is going to be an emotional roller coaster!' I knew that, by the last reel, I was going to be wrung out. And it was."
Paxton also remembers that cynicism. Many dismissed Titanic with the line: "Oh, what happens? The ship sinks!"
Paxton says his pal Cameron -- whom he met in 1980 on the set of the trashy B-movie, Galaxy of Terror -- defied the cynics. "Jim took that on and said: 'Yeah, but do you know how the ship sank? Do you know how violent the ship sank?' "
Then, Paxton says, Cameron played up the romantic melodrama with real panache. "And I have to tell you, the performances of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, they're a classic Romeo and Juliet for the ages in this film."