Billy Zane understands why Jack had to die in 'Titanic'.

Billy Zane

Billy Zane

The hit James Cameron movie has caused controversy over the years over the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio's character, Jack, perished in the icy waters while Kate Winslet's Rose DeWitt Bukater stayed safe on a floating wooden door at the end of the movie.

But now, Zane - who starred as Winslet's arrogant fiancé Cal Hockley - has given his views on why the character had to die.

Zane told People: "Your hero had to die. I don't know what else would have done it. It had to happen."

The actor isn't the only one to weigh in on the survival argument after Cameron himself insisted he made an "artistic choice" to kill of Jack.

He said: "The answer is very simple because it says on page 147 [of the script] that Jack dies. Very simple.

"Obviously it was an artistic choice, the thing was just big enough to hold her, and not big enough to hold him ... I think it's all kind of silly, really, that we're having this discussion 20 years later.

"But it does show that the film was effective in making Jack so endearing to the audience that it hurts them to see him die. Had he lived, the ending of the film would have been meaningless ...

"The film is about death and separation; he had to die. So whether it was that, or whether a smoke stack fell on him, he was going down. It's called art, things happen for artistic reasons, not for physics reasons."

The father-of-two also revealed he spent most of his time on the set urging his co-stars to get "painting clothes on" and get a "little messy".

He said: "On the set of 'Titanic' I spent most of my down town painting and doing painting parties, turning other people on to getting painting clothes on and getting a little messy."