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Celebrity Travel: Go Away With Jon Landau

By Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Media Services on

Producer Jon Landau has worked on many films ("Avatar," "Dick Tracy," "Solaris"), but he says that being on location in Mexico for almost a year shooting "Titanic" was an experience he'll never forget. "You ask what it was like to produce this movie, and I say that it was almost like being the mayor of a small city," says Landau, 52. "We had our own school, police department, fire department, you name it! Parents (of the child actors) would complain about the tutors and the teachers would complain about the stage parents. There was a lot to deal with, but it was wonderful."

"Titanic," which won 11 Academy Awards, has made its debut on Blu-ray, where viewers will be able to watch the movie in 2-D or 3-D.

Q. What are your memories of filming "Titanic" on location?

A. We started out with nothing. We took 40 acres of land in Playas de Rosarito, Mexico, and turned it into a studio. We had to bring telephone lines in from miles away and employed thousands of people to work on the film. When you go on location for any film, you have these very different experiences than when you go on vacation, since you're living there for a few months. You're not just there to do touristy things. You get immersed in the local culture on a day in and day out basis. We ate at the local restaurants and found all the good hangouts. It was great for us to have everything they had to offer at the time. We were there in their off season so we brought in a lot of business for them as well. I remember going to a restaurant once and there were16 people there eating, and 14 of them were from the film. I have many memories of the great food and experiences we had there.

Q. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were very young when filming began. How did they adapt to being away from home for so long?

A. They actually did great, but they didn't get to go out as much as some of the others. An actor's day is never over. After filming ends for the evening, they have to go back to their room and work on their lines for the next day. They stayed in homes that they'd rented, so they were within our little community. Poor Kate, though. It was a two-plus hour hair and makeup process for her, so she had to be back on set by 5 a.m. just about every morning.


Q. Where have you traveled to that you'd love to revisit?

A. On a personal basis, the South Pacific or Micronesia. Fiji was a great trip because it combined culture with the tropics and diving, which I love. On the other side of the spectrum, I recently went to St. Petersburg. I'd been to Moscow before, and that had always been what I thought Russia was. But St. Petersburg was amazing -- sort of a Venice of Russia, with all these waterways. It was very Italian influenced. I had an incredible time there. The food was really good, too.

Q. Are you a street food fan?

A. I'm always up for trying anything once. I do try to follow the rules of when you shouldn't eat vegetables that have their skin still on them or that kind of thing. But I like to try to immerse myself in the food of the culture that I'm in and give it all a try.


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