Titanic is a UK VHS release by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on 10th August 1998.
- Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson: Cameron said he needed the cast to feel as though they were really on the Titanic, to relive its liveliness, and "to take that energy and give it to Jack, ... an artist who is able to have his heart soar". Jack is portrayed as an itinerant, poor orphan from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, who has toured numerous places in the world, including Paris. He wins two tickets onto the RMS Titanic in a poker game and travels as a third-class passenger with his friend Fabrizio. He is attracted to Rose at first sight and meets her when she contemplates throwing herself off the stern of the ship. Her fiancé's "reward", an invitation to dine with them the next evening, enables Jack to mix with the first-class passengers for a night. When casting the role, various established actors, including Matthew McConaughey, Chris O'Donnell, Billy Crudup, and Stephen Dorff, were considered, but Cameron felt that a few of the actors were too old for the part of a 20-year-old. Tom Cruise was interested in portraying the character, but his asking price was too much for the studio to consider. Cameron considered Jared Leto for the role, but Leto refused to audition. Jeremy Sisto auditioned and was filmed in a series of screen tests with Winslet and three other actresses vying for the role of Rose. DiCaprio, 21 years old at the time, was brought to Cameron's attention by casting director Mali Finn. Initially, he did not want to portray the character and refused to read his first romantic scene on the set (see below). Cameron said, "He read it once, then started goofing around, and I could never get him to focus on it again. But for one split second, a shaft of light came down from the heavens and lit up the forest." Cameron strongly believed in DiCaprio's acting ability and told him, "Look, I'm not going to make this guy brooding and neurotic. I'm not going to give him a tic and a limp and all the things you want." Cameron rather envisioned the character as a James Stewart type. Although Jack Dawson was a fictional character, in Fairview Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where 121 victims are buried, there is a grave labeled "J. Dawson". The real J. Dawson was Joseph Dawson, who shoveled coal in the bowels of the ship. "It wasn't until after the movie came out that we found out that there was a J. Dawson gravestone," said the film's producer, Jon Landau, in an interview.
- Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater: Cameron said Winslet "had the thing that you look for" and that there was "a quality in her face, in her eyes," that he "just knew people would be ready to go the distance with her". Rose is a 17-year-old girl, originally from Philadelphia, who is forced into an engagement to 30-year-old Cal Hockley so she and her mother, Ruth, can maintain their high-class status after her father's death had left the family debt-ridden. Rose boards the RMS Titanic with Cal and Ruth, as a first-class passenger, and meets Jack. Winslet said of her character, "She has got a lot to give, and she's got a very open heart. And she wants to explore and adventure the world, but she [feels] that's not going to happen." Gwyneth Paltrow, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Gabrielle Anwar, and Reese Witherspoon had been considered for the role. When they turned it down, 20-year-old Winslet campaigned heavily for the role. She sent Cameron daily notes from England, which led Cameron to invite her to Hollywood for auditions. As with DiCaprio, casting director Mali Finn originally brought her to Cameron's attention. When looking for a Rose, Cameron described the character as "an Audrey Hepburn type" and was initially uncertain about casting Winslet even after her screen test impressed him. After she screen tested with DiCaprio, Winslet was so thoroughly impressed with him, that she whispered to Cameron, "He's great. Even if you don't pick me, pick him." Winslet sent Cameron a single rose with a card signed, "From Your Rose", and lobbied him by phone. "You don't understand!" she pleaded one day when she reached him by mobile phone in his Humvee. "I am Rose! I don't know why you're even seeing anyone else!" Her persistence, as well as her talent, eventually convinced him to cast her in the role.
- Billy Zane as Cal Hockley: Cal is Rose's arrogant and snobbish 30-year-old fiancé who also acts as the heir to a Pittsburgh steel fortune. He becomes increasingly embarrassed by, jealous of, and cruel about Rose's relationship with Jack. The part was originally offered to Matthew McConaughey, and Rob Lowe has also gone on the record as having pursued it.
- Frances Fisher as Ruth DeWitt Bukater: Rose's widowed mother, who arranges her daughter's engagement to Cal to maintain her family's high-society status. She loves her daughter but believes that social position is more important than having a loving marriage. She strongly dislikes Jack, even though he saved her daughter's life.
- Gloria Stuart as Rose Dawson Calvert: Rose narrates the film in a modern-day framing device. Cameron stated, "In order to see the present and the past, I decided to create a fictional survivor who is [close to] 101 years, and she connects us in a way through history." The 100-year-old Rose gives Lovett information regarding the "Heart of the Ocean" after he discovers a nude drawing of her in the wreck. She tells the story of her time aboard the ship, mentioning Jack for the first time since the sinking. At 87, Stuart had to be made up to look older for the role. Of casting Stuart, Cameron stated, "My casting director found her. She was sent out on a mission to find retired actresses from the Golden Age of the thirties and forties." Cameron said that he did not know who Stuart was, and Fay Wray was also considered for the role. "But [Stuart] was just so into it, and so lucid, and had such a great spirit. And I saw the connection between her spirit and [Winslet's] spirit," stated Cameron. "I saw this joie de vivre in both of them, that I thought the audience would be able to make that cognitive leap that it's the same person." Stuart died on September 26, 2010, at age 100, approximately the same age elder Rose was in the film.
- Bill Paxton as Brock Lovett: A treasure hunter looking for the "Heart of the Ocean" in the wreck of the Titanic in the present. Time and funding for his expedition are running out. He later reflects at the film's conclusion that, despite thinking about Titanic for three years, he has never understood it until he hears Rose's story.
- Suzy Amis as Lizzy Calvert: Rose's granddaughter, who accompanies her when she visits Lovett on the ship and learns her grandmother's true identity and romantic past with Jack Dawson.
- Danny Nucci as Fabrizio De Rossi: Jack's Italian best friend, who boards the RMS Titanic with him after Jack wins two tickets in a poker game. Fabrizio does not board a lifeboat when the Titanic sinks and is killed when one of the ship's funnels breaks and crashes into the water, crushing him to death.
- David Warner as Spicer Lovejoy: An ex-Pinkerton constable, Lovejoy is Cal's English valet and bodyguard, who keeps an eye on Rose and is suspicious about the circumstances surrounding Jack's rescue of her. He dies when the Titanic splits in half, causing him to fall into a massive opening. Warner had appeared in the 1979 TV miniseries S.O.S. Titanic.
- Jason Barry as Thomas "Tommy" Ryan: An Irish third-class passenger who befriends Jack and Fabrizio. Tommy is killed when he is accidentally pushed forward and shot by a panicked First Officer Murdoch.
- Kathy Bates as Margaret "Molly" Brown: Brown is looked down upon by other first-class women, including Ruth, as "vulgar" and "new money". She is friendly to Jack and lends him a tuxedo (bought for her son) when he is invited to dinner in the first-class dining saloon. Despite Brown being a real person, Cameron decided not to portray her real-life actions. Molly Brown was dubbed "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" by historians because she, with the support of other women, commandeered Lifeboat 6 from Quartermaster Robert Hichens. Some aspects of this altercation are portrayed in Cameron's film.
- Victor Garber as Thomas Andrews: The ship's builder, Andrews is portrayed as a very kind and pleasant man who is modest about his grand achievement. After the collision, he tries to convince the others, particularly Ismay, that it is a "mathematical certainty" that the ship will sink. He is depicted during the sinking of the ship as standing next to the clock in the first-class smoking room, lamenting his failure to build a strong and safe ship. Although this has become one of the most famous legends of the sinking of the Titanic, this story, which was published in a 1912 book (Thomas Andrews: Shipbuilder) and therefore perpetuated, came from John Stewart, a steward on the ship who in fact left the ship in boat no.15 at approximately 1:40 a.m. There were testimonies of sightings of Andrews after that moment. It appears that Andrews stayed in the smoking room for some time to gather his thoughts, then he continued assisting with the evacuation. Another reported sighting was of Andrews frantically throwing deck chairs into the ocean for passengers to use as floating devices. Andrews was last seen leaving the ship at the last moment.
- Bernard Hill as Captain Edward John Smith: Smith planned to make the Titanic his final voyage before retiring. He retreats into the wheelhouse on the bridge as the ship sinks, dying when the windows implode from the water whilst he clings to the ship's wheel. There are conflicting accounts as to whether he died in this manner or later froze to death in the water near the capsized collapsible lifeboat "B".
- Jonathan Hyde as J. Bruce Ismay: Ismay is portrayed as a rich, ignorant upper-class man. In the film, he uses his position as White Star Line managing director to influence Captain Smith to go faster with the prospect of an earlier arrival in New York and favorable press attention; while this action appears in popular portrayals of the disaster, it is unsupported by evidence. After the collision, he struggles to comprehend that his "unsinkable" ship is doomed. Ismay later boards Collapsible C (one of the last lifeboats to leave the ship) just before it is lowered. He was branded a coward by the press and public for surviving the disaster while many women and children had drowned.
- Eric Braeden as John Jacob Astor IV: A first-class passenger whom Rose (correctly) calls the richest man on the ship. The film depicts Astor and his 18-year-old wife Madeleine (Charlotte Chatton) as being introduced to Jack by Rose in the first-class dining saloon. During the introduction, Astor asks if Jack is connected to the "Boston Dawsons", a question Jack neatly deflects by saying that he is instead affiliated with the Chippewa Falls Dawsons. Astor is last seen as the Grand Staircase glass dome implodes and water surges in.
- Bernard Fox as Colonel Archibald Gracie IV: The film depicts Gracie making a comment to Cal that "women and machinery don't mix", and congratulating Jack for saving Rose from falling off the ship, though he is unaware that it was a suicide attempt. Fox had portrayed Frederick Fleet in the 1958 film A Night to Remember.
- Michael Ensign as Benjamin Guggenheim: A mining magnate traveling in first-class. He shows off his French mistress Madame Aubert (Fannie Brett) to his fellow passengers while his wife and three daughters wait for him at home. When Jack joins the other first-class passengers for dinner after his rescue of Rose, Guggenheim refers to him as a "bohemian". He is seen in the flooding Grand Staircase during the sinking, saying he is prepared to go down as a gentleman.
- Jonathan Evans-Jones as Wallace Hartley: The ship's bandmaster and violinist who plays uplifting music with his colleagues on the boat deck as the ship sinks. As the final plunge begins, he leads the band in a final performance of Nearer, My God, to Thee, to the tune of Bethany, and dies in the sinking.
- Mark Lindsay Chapman as Chief Officer Henry Wilde: The ship's chief officer, who lets Cal on board a lifeboat because he has a child in his arms. Before he dies, he tries to get the boats to return to the sinking site to rescue passengers by blowing his whistle. After he freezes to death, Rose uses his whistle to attract the attention of Fifth Officer Lowe, which leads to her rescue.
- Ewan Stewart as First Officer William Murdoch: The officer who is put in charge of the bridge on the night the ship struck the iceberg. During a rush for the lifeboats, Murdoch shoots Tommy Ryan as well as another passenger in a momentary panic, then commits suicide by shooting himself in the head. When Murdoch's nephew Scott saw the film, he objected to his uncle's portrayal as damaging to Murdoch's heroic reputation. A few months later, Fox vice-president Scott Neeson went to Dalbeattie, Scotland, where Murdoch lived, to deliver a personal apology, and also presented a £5000 donation to Dalbeattie High School to boost the school's William Murdoch Memorial Prize. Cameron apologized on the DVD commentary, but stated that there were officers who fired gunshots to enforce the "women and children first" policy. According to Cameron, his depiction of Murdoch is that of an "honorable man," not of a man "gone bad" or of a "cowardly murderer." He added, "I'm not sure you'd find that same sense of responsibility and total devotion to duty today. This guy had half of his lifeboats launched before his counterpart on the port side had even launched one. That says something about character and heroism."
- Jonathan Phillips as Second Officer Charles Lightoller. Lightoller took charge of the port side evacuation. The film depicts Lightoller informing Captain Smith that it will be difficult to see icebergs without breaking water and following the collision suggesting the crew should begin boarding women and children to the lifeboats. He is seen brandishing a gun and threatening to use it to keep order. He can be seen on top of Collapsible B when the first funnel collapses. Lightoller was the most senior officer to have survived the disaster.
- Simon Crane as Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall: The officer in charge of firing flares and manning Lifeboat 2 during the sinking. He is shown on the bridge wings helping the seamen firing the flares.
- Ioan Gruffudd as Fifth Officer Harold Lowe: The ship's only officer to lead a lifeboat to retrieve survivors of the sinking from the icy waters. The film depicts Lowe rescuing Rose.
- Edward Fletcher as Sixth Officer James Moody: The ship's only junior officer to have died in the sinking. The film depicts Moody admitting Jack and Fabrizio onto the ship only moments before it departs from Southampton. Moody is later shown following Mr. Murdoch's orders to put the ship to full speed ahead, and informs First Officer Murdoch about the iceberg. He is last seen clinging to one of the davits on the starboard side after having unsuccessfully attempted to launch collapsible A.
- James Lancaster as Father Thomas Byles: Second-class passenger Father Byles, a Catholic priest from England, is portrayed praying and consoling passengers during the ship's final moments.
- Lew Palter and Elsa Raven as Isidor Straus and Ida Straus: Isidor is a former owner of R.H. Macy and Company, a former congressman from New York, and a member of the New York and New Jersey Bridge Commission. During the sinking, his wife Ida is offered a place in a lifeboat, but refuses, saying that she will honor her wedding pledge by staying with Isidor. They are last seen lying on their bed embracing each other as water fills their stateroom.
- Martin Jarvis as Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon: A Scottish baronet who is rescued in Lifeboat 1. Lifeboats 1 and 2 were emergency boats with a capacity of 40. Situated at the forward end of the boat deck, these were kept ready to launch in case of a person falling overboard. On the night of the disaster, Lifeboat 1 was the fourth to be launched, with 12 people aboard, including Duff-Gordon, his wife and her secretary. The baronet was much criticized for his conduct during the incident. It was suggested that he had boarded the emergency boat in violation of the "women and children first" policy and that the boat had failed to return to rescue those struggling in the water. He offered five pounds to each of the lifeboat's crew, which those critical of his conduct viewed as a bribe. The Duff-Gordons at the time (and his wife's secretary in a letter written at the time and rediscovered in 2007) stated that there had been no women or children waiting to board in the vicinity of the launching of their boat, and there is confirmation that lifeboat 1 of the Titanic was almost empty and that First Officer William Murdoch was apparently glad to offer Duff-Gordon and his wife and her secretary a place (simply to fill it) after they had asked if they could get on. Duff-Gordon denied that his offer of money to the lifeboat crew represented a bribe. The British Board of Trade's inquiry into the disaster accepted Duff-Gordon's denial of bribing the crew, but maintained that, if the emergency boat had rowed towards the people who were in the water, it might very well have been able to rescue some of them.
- Rosalind Ayres as Lady Duff-Gordon: A world-famous fashion designer and Sir Cosmo's wife. She is rescued in Lifeboat 1 with her husband. She and her husband never lived down rumors that they had forbidden the lifeboat's crew to return to the wreck site in case they would be swamped.
- Rochelle Rose as Noël Leslie, Countess of Rothes: The Countess is shown to be friendly with Cal and the DeWitt Bukaters. Despite being of a higher status in society than Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon, she is kind, and helps row the boat and even looks after the steerage passengers.
- Scott G. Anderson as Frederick Fleet: The lookout who saw the iceberg. Fleet escapes the sinking ship aboard Lifeboat 6.
- Paul Brightwell as Quartermaster Robert Hichens: One of the ship's six quartermasters and at the ship's wheel at the time of collision. He is in charge of lifeboat 6. He refuses to go back and pick up survivors after the sinking and eventually the boat is commandeered by Molly Brown.
- Martin East as Reginald Lee: The other lookout in the crow's nest. He survives the sinking.
- Gregory Cooke as Jack Phillips: Senior wireless operator on board the Titanic whom Captain Smith ordered to send the distress signal.
- Craig Kelly as Harold Bride: Junior wireless operator on board the Titanic.
- Liam Tuohy as Chief Baker Charles Joughin: The baker appears in the film on top of the railing with Jack and Rose as the ship sinks, drinking brandy from a flask. According to the real Joughin's testimony, he rode the ship down and stepped into the water without getting his hair wet. He also admitted to hardly feeling the cold, most likely thanks to alcohol.
- Terry Forrestal as Chief Engineer Joseph G. Bell: Bell and his men worked until the last minute to keep the lights and the power on in order for distress signals to get out. Bell and all of the engineers died in the bowels of the Titanic.
Several crew members of the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh appear in the film, including Anatoly Sagalevich, creator and pilot of the MIR self-propelled Deep Submergence Vehicle. Anders Falk, who filmed a documentary about the film's sets for the Titanic Historical Society, makes a cameo appearance in the film as a Swedish immigrant whom Jack Dawson meets when he enters his cabin; Edward Kamuda and Karen Kamuda, then President and Vice President of the Society who served as film consultants, were cast as extras in the film.