Thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic, anytime you find yourself on a boat you will always yell, “I’m the king of the world!” And yet, that iconic piece of dialogue was almost never said because the actor wasn’t about it.

James Cameron, the film’s director, recently revealed to BBC’s Movies That Made Me that the Oscar-winning actor, 44, didn’t want to say the line at first. “It was made up on the spot,” the Avatar creator recalled. “I was in a crane basket, and we were losing the light. I had tried this and we had tried that, tried this line and that line and it was just coming up snake eyes.” He continued, “And I said, ‘Alright, I’ve got one for you. Just say, ‘I’m the king of the world,’ and just spread your arms out wide and just be in the moment and just love it and just celebrate it and love it.’ And he goes, ‘What?’”

James adds, “I’m getting this over the walkie talkie. ‘I’m the king of the world,’ just say, ‘I’m the king of the world,’ but you’ve got to sell it!’ And he goes, ‘What?!’ I said, ‘Just f**king sell it.’” Eventually, Leonardo says the line, and it became one of the most memorable in movie history.

In fact, the Terminator director said it himself after winning an Oscar at the 1998 Academy Awards, a moment that people still talk about. “The way he sells it, yes. Apparently that’s the difference between myself and Leonardo, he was able to sell the line,” James joked.

Even though it’s been more than 20 years since the film rocked theaters, James, Leonardo and his on-screen lover, Kate Winslet, still keep in touch.

Leonardo Dicaprio James Cameron Kate Winslet
Getty Images

“Kate worked on Avatar 2 and 3, and I think I just emailed with her a couple days ago,” James told Us Weekly at the Alita: Battle Angel premiere at the Westwood Village Regency Theatre in Los Angeles on February 5. He revealed, “Leo and I collide mostly in the environmental circles because he’s doing a lot of good work around climate change and the environment and sustainability … we’re not collaborating directly but we sort of cross paths all the time in that world.”