It’s been nearly 25 years since Titanic, and one of its child actors is still making money to this day.
James Cameron’s classic blockbuster starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet at the helm, with a vast supporting cast including the likes of Billy Zane, Bill Paxton, Gloria Stuart and Kathy Bates. Spoiler alert: it’s about a big ship that sinks.
Of course, everyone remembers the leads, but do you recall the performance from Reece Thompson? Among hundreds of extras, he played ‘Irish little boy’, a role for which he still gets paid.
Thompson, who now works as digital marketing director at Utah’s Brian Head Resort, was just five years old when he filmed Titanic. His ‘Irish little boy’ was a third-class passenger on the doomed vessel, and he delivers one tragic line of dialogue as chaos erupts around him: ‘What are we doing, mommy?’
His mother, played by Jenette Goldstein, tells him, ‘We’re just waiting, dear. When they finish putting first-class people in the boats, they’ll be starting with us, and we’ll want to be ready, right?’
It’s later implied the family never make it off the boat, with his mother tucking the two children into bed and telling them a story before their inevitable death.
Before taking the role, his mum was offered a choice: a petrol station advert, or a shot at a part in ‘a major motion picture’. Fortunately, she opted for Titanic.
‘It turned out to be one of the highest-grossing films in history, so it’s pretty bizarre in retrospect. My mom was like, ‘Let’s just do it. It’ll be cool. Even if the movie sucks, we’ll see it.’ Obviously, it ended up exploding, so that wasn’t a bad decision on her part, that’s for sure,’ he earlier told Business Insider.
He also recalled struggling with the Irish accent, saying, ‘If you listen to it, it doesn’t sound very Irish. It just sounds soft-spoken. I remember trying to mimic what the speech coach was trying to do. That’s as close as I got.’
At the time, he earned around $30,000, most of which was invested and put into bank accounts for his future. Over the following few years, he received a number of cheques in the ‘low thousands’, and even now he’s sent around $200-$300 in residuals every year.
‘It’s weird because it’s not present in my mind anymore. It’s not like, ‘Oh, when am I going to get a new Titanic cheque?’ When it happens, it’s like, ‘Oh, cool, an extra $100′,’ he said.
‘There have been a couple of times where it’s been like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s a $250 check. This movie’s 25 years old. That’s pretty bizarre.’ But hopefully, they keep playing it a lot because that means more money for me.’
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