Casting for 1997’s Titanic was a tough process. While some of the actors played fictional characters, many were portraying historic figures. Photos of the passengers from the early 20th-century show just how similar they look to the actors who played them in the movie. Read on to see the resemblance.
Fifth Officer Harold Lowe
Ioan Gruffudd played Fifth Officer Harold Lowe in 1997’s Titanic. Lowe was a real person who was only 29 when the Titanic sank.
He was the only ship officer to go back and rescue people and he ended up saving four men. Fans may remember Lowe in the movie when he saved Rose from the freezing water.
One of the most memorable characters in Titanic was Molly/Margaret Brown played by Kathy Bates. Some may remember her giving Leonardo DiCaprio’s character a tuxedo and that she managed to escape on a lifeboat.
The real Brown was called the “unsinkable Molly Brown” because she encouraged the officers to go back and search for survivors. She even set up a Survivor’s Committee and raised thousands of dollars for Titanic survivors.
Wallace Henry Hartley
One scene that seems to stick in many fans’ minds is when the band continues to play while the Titanic sinks. The violinist in the band was Wallace Henry Hartley, who was played by Jonathan Evans-Jones.
The band kept playing to keep the passengers calm and it was rumored that the song was “Nearer My God To Thee.”
Captain Edward Smith
There is quite a striking resemblance between Captain Edward Smith and the actor who played him (Bernard Hill). Smith was an experienced captain who had rarely been involved with any accidents.
His time on the RMS Titanic was supposed to be his last job before entering retirement. He did receive warnings about icebergs, but didn’t decrease the speed of the ship.
Ida And Isidor Straus
It’s hard not to forget the harrowing image of the elderly couple snuggling on the bed as they realize the Titanic is about to sink. The real people who inspired this scene were Ida and Isidor Straus who were played by Elsa Raven and Lew Palter.
Both were offered a spot on a lifeboat, but Isidor wouldn’t get on until every woman and child were safe. Ida chose to stay with her husband, instead of escaping.
Victor Garber played British shipbuilder Thomas Andrews in Titanic. The real Andrews was the chief designer of the Titanic.
Andrews was weary of the lack of safety measures for the ship and he knew there weren’t enough lifeboats. Similar to the film, he was last seen in the first-class smoking room.
Michael Ensign was able to utter the same words the real Benjamin Guggenheim did when he found out the ship was going down: “We’ve dressed in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.”
While the film character was last seen at the Grand Staircase, the real Guggenheim was actually last spotted watching lifeboats being lowered on the deck.
J. Bruce Ismay
Anthony Jonathan Hyde is best known for his role as J. Bruce Ismay in Titanic. The real Ismay was called a coward for the rest of his life because he had a spot in a lifeboat, while other women and children did not.
Before the Titanic set sail, he reduced the number of lifeboats from 48 to 16.
John Jacob Astor
Eric Braedon played Titanic passenger John Jacob Astor in the 1997 film adaptation. Astor was the wealthiest person on board the Titanic and was skeptical of getting in the lifeboat.
He was able to help his pregnant wife escape and asked to go with her, but he did not end up surviving.
Colonel Archibald Gracie IV
One of Bernard Fox’s most pivotal scenes as Colonel Archibald Gracie IV in Titanic was offering to escort Rose, so that he could find more lifeboats.
The real Gracie was pulled underwater when the ship sank but was able to swim back up to the surface. Then, he went to a lifeboat with 30 other men and was rescued. However, he got hypothermia and couldn’t recover.
Countess Of Rothes
One of the most important people during the rescue was the Countess of Rothes, who was played by Rochelle Rose in the movie.
She was able to command her lifeboat and steered clear of the RMS Titanic. The Countess did all of this while rowing her lifeboat to the Carpathia and comforting others along the way.
Madeleine Force was played by actress Charlotte Chatton in 1997’s Titanic. She was the wife of the wealthiest passenger, John Jacob Astor IV, and was pregnant during the voyage.
She and her husband were on their way to America, so their baby could be born there. She survived and was able to give birth four months later, but her husband did not make it.
Martin Jarvis is known for playing Cosmo Duff-Gordon in Titanic. The real Duff-Gordon was best remembered for being an Olympic silver medalist in fencing.
He was able to survive the sinking ship but got major criticism because he ignored the “women and children first” rule. It was rumored he bribed the officers to let him on a lifeboat.
Lady Duff-Gordon was the wife of Cosmo Duff-Gordon and the actress who played her in Titanic (Rosalind Ayres) was the real wife of the actor who played Cosmo Duff-Gordon (Martin Jarvis).
The real Lady Duff-Gordon was a fashion designer and wrote columns in popular magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and Good Housekeeping.
First Officer William Murdoch
Played by Ewan Stewart, William Murdoch was the First Officer aboard the RMS Titanic. His character is shown ending his life after the ship hits the iceberg.
His real-life family was offended by this and demanded an apology from both James Cameron and 20th Century Fox for how they portrayed him.
Rose DeWitt Bukater
Although she wasn’t actually a passenger on the Titanic, Director James Cameron wrote in his book, James Cameron: Interviews that Beatrice Wood was a partial inspiration for the character of Rose.
Born into a wealthy family in San Francisco, Beatrice Wood was an artist and studio potter and had a vivacious personality that Cameron thought would be well-suited for Rose. She lived to be 105 years old.
Frederick Fleet went through a lot during his life. Played by actor Scott Anderson, he was the character who first saw the iceberg as the Titanic approached it.
He yelled the line, “Iceberg, right ahead!” Fleet really did shout this when he saw the iceberg. He survived the sinking and went on to serve in both World Wars.
Gregory Cooke played John “Jack” Phillips in James Cameron’s Titanic. The real Phillips was the senior wireless operator on the Titanic who made a distress call after the ship struck the iceberg.
Since he did not respond to incoming signals, it is cited that this is the principal cause of the disaster. Phillips did not survive when the ship sank.
Harold Bride was played by Craig Kelly in Titanic. The real Bride was a British merchant seaman and the junior wireless operator of the Titanic.
Bride was washed off the ship when the deck flooded but got to a lifeboat. He was able to survive the sinking and later testified during the Senate inquiry about his experience onboard the ship.
Second Officer Charles Lightoller
Played by actor Jonathan Phillips, Charles Lightoller was the Second Officer on board the RMS Titanic. He was able to survive the sinking and continued working for the same cruise liner.
Lightoller went on to serve in World War I and used his private yacht to help with the evacuation of Dunkirk during World War II.
Chief Naval Officer Henry Wilde
Henry Wilde was a British naval officer and the chief naval officer on the RMS Titanic. Played by actor Mark Lindsay Chapman, Wilde was rumored to be last seen cooking a cigarette when the ship was sinking, giving one last final wave to his peer Charles Lightoller.
It is said that Wilde oversaw the overall evacuation process of the Titanic.
John Jacob Astor IV
Played by actor Eric Braeden, John Jacob Astor IV was a businessman and the richest man aboard the RMS Titanic and was thought to be the richest man in the world upon the sinking of the ship.
At the time of his death on April 15, 1912, Astor had a net worth of $87 million, an equivalent to $1.34 billion in 2021.
Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall
In the 1997 film Titanic, Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall was portrayed by actor Simon Crane. While the ship was sinking, Boxhall was in charge of lifeboat no. 2. He successfully rescued 18 people, including himself.
Eventually, Boxhall went on to become a naval officer during World War I. He passed away in 967, and his ashes were scattered over the location of the Titanic sinking.
Sixth Officer James Moody
Edward Fletcher portrayed Sixth Officer James Moody in James Cameron’s Titanic. The real-life officer was the sixth officer and the only junior officer to pass away during the sinking of the famous ship.
Moody helped put numerous lifeboats into the water during the evacuation, including no. 9, 12, 13, 14, and 16.
Reginald Lee was portrayed by Martin East in Titanic. Like the film, Lee was in the crow’s nest watching as the iceberg hit the ship at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912. After the collision, Lee was ordered to man lifeboat no. 13.
As a result, he survived the sinking and later went to serve on the Kenilworth Castle.
Father Thomas Byles
Father Thomas Byles was portrayed by actor James Lancaster in the 1997 film Titanic. Boarding the ship on her maiden voyage, Father Byles’s intention was to make it to New York to officiate his younger brother’s wedding.
Refusing two lifeboats, Father Byles prayed with passengers, offered confession, helped many third-class passengers to the main deck, and gave absolution to more than a hundred people who missed the lifeboats.
Derek Lea portrayed the RMS Titanic lead stoker Frederick Barrett in James Cameron’s iconic 1997 film. Before boarding the Titanic, Barrett was a stoker on numerous vessels.
While the ship was sinking, Barrett was able to board lifeboat no. 12, taking command of it and getting everyone to safety, including himself. He worked in the navy until the 1920s.