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'Titanic' extras celebrate blockbuster movie's 25th Anniversary

The Southern California residents drove to Rosarito, Mexico for the six-month shoot.

SAN DIEGO — Titanic is one of the most successful movies of all time and it's celebrating its 25-th Anniversary. In this Zevely Zone, I met three of the film's extras at the Maritime Museum of San Diego

We went aboard the Steam Ferry Berkeley to commemorate the blockbuster movie about the world's most famous shipwreck. Titanic won 11 Academy Awards after its 1997 premiere and 25 years later, we sat down with three of the film's extras. "These were our crew jackets that we bought during the filming," said Judy Prestininzi. 

She, Ellen Mower and Don Lynch are Southern California residents who participated in the six-month shoot. "I played Frederick Spedden a first class passenger," said Don.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

The extras commuted to Rosarito, Mexico where writer director James Cameron recreated the full-size exterior of the Titanic. "Welcome to the Baja Studios," said James Cameron. "We have got the wreck, we know what it looks like, we have been there and photographed it."

The largest set in film history was placed in a 17-million-gallon tank about the size of two football fields and then flooded with 52-degree ocean water. "We had on our wetsuits and everything and we were on the deck and when they would start sinking that set you were going down into forty feet of water," said Judy.

Credit: CBS 8

Judy and Ellen both played Titanic casualties. "Some jerk swam over me and dunked me," said Ellen. She didn't know until after the shoot, it was Leonardo DiCaprio. "I looked at him and he looked at me and he says, 'Oh I am sorry, I didn't know you were real' and I said that's okay I have been told that I play dead well," said Ellen.

We shot our interview aboard the Steam Ferry Berkeley which is a floating museum. "Apparently she wore a long black gown," said Kevin Sheehan, the curator of the Maritime Museum of San Diego who showed me a shawl with a direct connection to the Titanic. "This was worn by a Titanic survivor Constance Chaffee as she escaped in lifeboat number 4 on the night the Titanic actually sank," said Kevin.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

"I really didn't know who Kate and Leo were when we went down there," said Judy. But by the end of the shoot, they all did. 

Judy even shot a scene with Winslet that was cut from the movie where they wrestled. "Jim wanted me to claw at her face and he says let me see your fingernails and I went like this, and they were kind of long and I said I can bite them off you know because he didn't want me scratching her," said Judy.  

Credit: 20th Century Fox

She, Ellen and Don never dreamed the movie would become a classic. "Well, it's such an incredible story," said Don. Now they are lifelong friends who survived Titanic. "Yes, we did, and we are part of its history," said Judy.  

If you'd like to learn more about our country's nautical history, the Maritime Museum of San Diego is open every day of the year including holidays. Click here for more information.

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