Kate Winslet Says Kissing Leonardo DiCaprio In the Famous “I’m Flying” Scene from ‘Titanic’ Was Actually “A Nightmare”

“It was not all it’s cracked up to be.”

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(Image credit: Paramount)

The onscreen chemistry between Titanic co-stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio was one factor in making the 1997 movie one of the most profitable in the history of film, but, according to Winslet, kissing a man who could arguably be called one of the hottest stars in Hollywood at the time was, in reality, “a mess” and “not all it’s cracked up to be,” she said. (Consider us intrigued.)

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic"

Winslet and DiCaprio in the "I'm flying" scene, which has become one of the most iconic in film history.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While revisiting the movie’s famous “I’m flying” scene in speaking with Vanity Fair, Winslet said that “locking lips with him [DiCaprio] was no dream come true,” Entertainment Weekly writes. “But, in DiCaprio’s defense, she blames the makeup.”

Of her co-star—whom she still remains close friends with today—Winslet joked “My God, he’s quite the romancer, isn’t he? No wonder every young girl in the world wanted to be kissed by Leonardo DiCaprio.”

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic"

DiCaprio as Jack Dawson in the 1997 blockbuster.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

But maybe not on a movie set? “We kept doing this kiss, and I’ve got a lot of pale makeup on, and I would have to do our makeup checks—on both of us, between takes—and I would end up looking as though I’d been sucking a caramel chocolate bar after each take, because his makeup would come off on me,” she said. (This visual!)

As Winslet dealt with smears of his tan all over her face, DiCaprio’s face looked as though “there was a bit missing from his face” thanks to the residue of her makeup, which was more pale in shade. “Oh God, it was such a mess,” Winslet said.

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic"

Winslet played Rose DeWitt Bukater in the James Cameron-directed film.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

But that’s not all. Winslet also recalled banging her knee on the railing of the ship a few times, and needing multiple takes to get the shot just right. “This was a nightmare,” Winslet said as she rewatched the iconic scene. “Leo couldn’t stop laughing, and we had to reshoot this about four times because [director James Cameron] wanted a very specific light for this, obviously, and the sunsets kept changing where we were.”

Adding insult to injury, Winslet said she and DiCaprio were essentially inaccessible to the makeup team during the shoot. “This was a section of the ship—it wasn’t part of the actual whole ship set that we had,” Winslet said. “We had to climb up a ladder to get to it. Hair and makeup couldn’t reach us. Now, what you wouldn’t know because Leo looks completely natural, but he had to lie on sunbeds, and there’s a lot of fake tan makeup going on.” As she gestured towards her dress, Winslet added “I’ve got hidden his makeup and brushes and sponge and my makeup and brushes and sponge on the other side.” Of her costume, the actress added “I look at that, and I just see how much I couldn’t breathe in that bloody corset,” she said.

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It might have been "a nightmare," but it sure didn't look that way.

(Image credit: Paramount)

All of the hassle aside, Winslet did admit to the outlet that it was “quite funny” for her and DiCaprio to be “giggling and covered in each other’s makeup.”

The film ultimately won 11 Oscars—including Best Picture—and remains up to present day one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, Entertainment Weekly reports. “I do feel very proud of it, because I feel that it is that film that just keeps giving,” Winslet said. “Whole other generations of people are discovering the film or seeing it for the first time, and there’s something extraordinary about that.”

The only drawback? Even to this day, Winslet can’t get on a boat without being asked to recreate that “I’m flying” scene. “It does my head in,” she said, adding that she’s asked “every time, without fail.”

As to whether she obliges said requests, “Sometimes, yes,” Winslet said. “Sometimes, no.”

Rachel Burchfield
Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor

Rachel Burchfield is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family and other royal families around the world. She serves as Marie Claire’s Senior Celebrity and Royals Editor and has also contributed to publications like Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, People, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and W, among others. Before taking on her current role with Marie Claire, Rachel served as its Weekend Editor and later Royals Editor. She is the cohost of Podcast Royal, a show that was named a top five royal podcast by The New York Times. A voracious reader and lover of books, Rachel also hosts I’d Rather Be Reading, which spotlights the best current nonfiction books hitting the market and interviews the authors of them. Rachel frequently appears as a media commentator, and she or her work has appeared on outlets like NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and more.