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Reece Thompson Broke Hearts On 1997’s ‘Titanic,’ And Today He Still Gets Royalty Checks

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James Cameron’s 1997 historical drama Titanic introduced audiences to a sweeping cast of characters whose stories felt all the more devastating with how doomed viewers knew they were. One such character was the young Irish third-class passenger waiting for the end with his family. His actor, Reece Thompson, was five years old when he filmed his scenes and 26 years after Titanic released, he’s still getting royalty checks – with a catch.

The film shows how third-class passengers were not privy to accessing lifeboats after the infamous vessel was damaged. So, Thompson’s character is with his mother and sister in a cabin, rather than seeking safety. When Thompson asks, “What are we doing mummy?” she answers, “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?” To this day, Thompson draws interest for his role in this gut-wrenching scene.

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Reece Thompson from ‘Titanic’ is still impacted by the film

Young Reece Thompson in Titanic / YouTube screenshot

Reece is in his early thirties now, with Titanic still very much relevant in his life – somewhat. Speaking with Australia’s Network 10, he confirmed he does, indeed, still get royalty checks from the film. “But I haven’t updated my address in several years, honestly since the last time I got interviewed for this,” he added. “So, I haven’t seen them [the checks] in a few years. I’m just assuming that they are still coming.”

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But whatever ones come his way, Thompson doesn’t miss them. “It’s weird because it’s not present in my mind anymore,” he admitted. “It’s not like, “Oh, when am I going to get a new ‘Titanic’ check?’ When it happens, it’s like, ‘Oh, cool, an extra $100.”

“There have been a couple of times where it’s been like: “Oh, wow, that’s a $250 check,’” continued Thompson. “This movie’s 12 years old. That’s pretty bizarre. But hopefully, they keep playing it a lot because that means more money for me.”

The price of admission

Thompson today, still receiving royalty checks / YouTube screenshot

Back when young Thompson filmed his Titanic scenes, he was originally paid $30,000 for his troubles. In the years immediately following Titanic’s release, his royalty checks amounted to the “low thousands.” VHS and DVD releases in 1998 and 1999 respectively saw those values increase exponentially. The film’s 3D re-release in 2012 did not amount to any significant increase in income, to Thompson’s surprise.

But Thompson very nearly did not receive anything at all – because he almost passed on the job.

TITANIC, 1997. TM & Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved./Courtesy Everett Collection

Originally a child model, Thompson happened to win a contest with a talent agent who gave him a choice: a petrol commercial or a small role in Titanic. “My mom was like: “Let’s just do it. It’ll be cool. Even if the movie sucks, we’ll see it,’” Thompson revealed. “Obviously, it ended up exploding, so that wasn’t a bad decision on her part, that’s for sure.”

Thompson used the money he received to pay for a car, education, and living expenses, just a few serendipitous occurrences securing his future for years.

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