Although her role was tiny in the film, many people remember Cora, Jack’s “best girl” from the dancing scene down on the third class deck. Now, on the 21st anniversary of the film’s release in 1997, seems a perfect time to share the thoughts of Alex Owens-Sarno, the actress who played the curly-haired little girl, about the film and the lovely moments she shared with Leonardo DiCaprio on the set.
Owens-Sarno shared plenty about her time on the set of Titanic, from how she got there, to what she thinks of her scenes when she looks back on them now, to how she was treated as a young girl on the set. Much to the delight of DiCaprio fans everywhere, Owens-Sarno stated that the lead actor treated her with nothing but kindness, Unilad reported.
“At that time I was convinced [Leo] was my best friend,” she shared of her interactions with the actor.
“He always made a point to be super sweet to me. I actually spent a decent amount of time with him. He was pretty much the first actor that I met on my first day. We were drawing pictures of where we thought rain came from. We’d hang out during breaks in filming. Leo was always doing what he could to make us laugh. He would chase us around to try and tickle us. He would order me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in between takes. He would dance behind cameras to make me laugh.”
Owens-Sarno also shared that Kate Winslet, who played leading lady Rose, spent less time with her, but the moments which they did spend chatting showcased Winslet to be “one of the sweetest women” that the little girl had ever met. Owens-Sarno’s younger sister, who was also given a small role in the film, had the most adorable ringlets that Winslet was “obsessed with,” according to Owens-Sarno.
“I just remember that when she spoke to me, she didn’t really treat me like a kid. She’d ask questions, and listen wholeheartedly to what I had to say.”
But the now-30-year-old says that while she had great experiences with the rest of the cast, and even strict director James Cameron, she stated that her scenes were quite difficult for her because she doesn’t feel she’s a great dancer. Today, she struggles to watch her scenes, finding them “extra embarrassing.”
Because it’s the scene Owens-Sarno is most known for, people who meet her are always fascinated by the fact that she’s “touched” DiCaprio. For her part, Owens-Sarno has always found that creepy.
She first auditioned for the role after Mali Finn, the casting director, saw her little sister crying at an open call, and thought the three-year-old would be perfect as the little girl Billy Zane picks up to climb into the lifeboat. Although her sister was later not cast in that role — she apparently wouldn’t stop crying hysterically — Owens-Sarno was offered the part of Cora after a short audition along with 10 other little girls, in which she only had to read a few lines.
Her mother and older sister were also cast as extras in the film, and, according to Owens-Sarno, neither of them were ever far away from her during her scenes.
Over the course of the six months that she was on set, Owens-Sarno found the entire experience to be amazing and was quite happy to miss school to be there.