‘Titanic’ Vs. ‘Downton Abbey': Julian Fellowes Weighs In!

Not since 1912 has there been so much interest in the Titanic. (Of course that could also be said of 1997 when James Cameron released the film that launched Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio to next levels of famous).

Between the re-release of that film, the anniversary of the historic sinking and the soon-to-be-released mini-series from “Downton Abbey” creator, Julian Fellowes, everyone seems to have the Titanic on the brain. Fellowes recently opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about the mini-series, explaining that it’s not quite “Downton Abbey” on a ship.

“People want it to be, but it’s more complicated than that. ‘Titanic’ isn’t just about people and their servants,” he explained. “It’s about all of these people from different worlds coming together on one ship. My theory on disaster, though it’s a bit nanny, is that disaster brings out the best of you.”

It’s not the first time Fellowes has looked to the Titanic for inspiration. The sinking of the ship set off the entire set of events on that other critically-acclaimed, fan-loved mini, “Downton.” Fellowes admits he’s got a bit of an obsession with that time period.

“I think I may be a bit obsessed with ‘Titanic.’ But I used it in ‘Downton Abbey’ for a different reason. By using something iconic, you don’t need to explain as much. Very few people can’t place the approximate time period of the ‘Titanic’ sinking. It’s really a cheat,” he said. “It’s a piece of shorthand so that you don’t need references to other parts of history. But yes, I am very interested in Titanic.”

So, how does it differ from Cameron’s “Titanic” which is being re-released this week?

“Clearly Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet have captured the imaginations of a whole generation. But that was a movie – it’s a different kind of experience with a huge budget and special effects,” he said. “Our version is more of an analysis of who is on the ship and interlocking stories that are more suited to television. You couldn’t have done our treatment in a movie. And I’m certainly going to see the movie in 3D.”

Tell us what you think of Fellowes’ take on “Titanic” in the comments or on Twitter!