Only now does it occur to me... that the true enduring star of TITANIC is not Celine Dion, Kate Winslet's boobs
or Bill Paxton's wicked, pirate-y earring.
No, the true stars are the expressive, Svengali-ish, and immaculately waxed eyebrows of one William G. Zane, Esquire:
Now I hadn't seen TITANIC since in theaters way back in '97, and because my interest in The Zane Factor had been so amply reawakened by TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT, I decided to give it another go. As "Caledon Hockley," the moneyed gadabout in pursuit of villainy and a loveless marriage to Kate Winslet, Billy Zane gives one of the bitchiest, most cattily malevolent performances ever to grace a mainstream film that didn't star Joan Crawford or Faye Dunaway.
Here he is using the whites of Kate's eyes to admire his own reflection:
I dare you to prove me wrong. That's totally what he's doing:
He dismisses Monet and Picasso as "fingerpainters":
Tries to buy off the man (DiCaprio) who saved his wife-to-be with a crisp twenty-dollar bill:
He judges you with judgey eyebrows:
Offers smarm-infused false comfort as the ship goes down:
Goes full "Tim Curry" for a segment where he's a gun-toting madman:
Steals babies to get on lifeboats:
He steals scenes he's not even really in:
[And somewhere amongst all this Zanery (hey, "zaniness" was already taken) apparently there's an epic romance and a sinking ship, but that's really more of a subplot.]
He's even got one of the all-time great villains and fellow TWIN PEAKS alum David Warner (TIME BANDITS, TRON, STRAW DOGS, TIME AFTER TIME, MY BEST FRIEND IS A VAMPIRE) as his henchman. When David Warner is playing second fiddle to you– goddamn, you're doing something right! One of my favorite moments is this wonderful bit where Warner catches Leo and Kate doing some unauthorized folk-dancing hanky-pankery:
His disapproving look is worth at least three AVATARS.
BONUS!: Also of note to Cameron aficionados– there's two great ALIENS references.
1. Legendary badass Space Marine Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) shows up as an immigrant mother from the lower decks
comforting small and adorable children (instead of using a swivel-mounted minigun to rain death and destruction on those blocking her access to the lifeboats).
2. When Kate Winslet gives Billy Zane the ole' spit-in-the-eye treatment, instead of saliva, they used K-Y Jelly:
Incidentally, they also used K-Y in ALIENS to make the Alien Queen look like the world's most terrifying, lacquered sex toy. To hear Zane talk about it (and the 27 traumatic takes therein) on OPRAH, go here, to the eleven minute mark.