You're probably familiar with British actress Kate Winslet as the star of such varied films such as Titanic, Sense and Sensibility and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But did you know that in addition to her Oscar statuette (for The Reader), Winslet is also the proud holder of the record for the longest underwater breath hold in a feature film, set while shooting the new James Cameron blockbuster Avatar: The Way of Water.
Many of the film's scenes were shot underwater, allowing the filmmakers to produce some incredible visuals. The actors were required to spend significant amounts of time free diving in this watery world. Winslet, who plays Ronal, a leader of the ocean Na'vi community, was no exception. Without any breathing apparatus, she held her breath for seven minutes and fourteen seconds, beating Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation record from 2015.
While Winslet's achievement is incredibly impressive, professional free divers and instructors can achieve even more mind-boggling breath-holding feats. Chris Denison, who helped train some of the film's stars, can free dive for over 15 minutes, while the world record (with pre-dive pure oxygen assistance) stands at 24 minutes 37 seconds.
More about free diving and Avatar: The Way of Water:
- Winslet was shocked when she emerged from her seven-minute dive, asking the film crew whether she had died.
- Denison told CBC that "the goal is to get (actors) so good at breath holding, they're not thinking about breath holding. They're thinking about acting.
- Winslet's co-stars also achieved impressive breath-holding feats. Sigourney Weaver held her breath for well over six minutes.