'Titanic' Actor Sues for Back Pay
Vi Jay says he was paid as an extra even though he should have received the more lucrative SAG rate and royalties.
A man who says he was not fairly paid after James Cameron bumped him up from an extra to a principal performer on 1997's Titanic is suing the studios, production companies and distributors behind the winner of a best picture Academy Award for a bigger piece of the pie.
Vi Jay's suit, filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, says he was promised $60 a day to do background work on Titanic. Upon arriving on the Mexico set in 1996, Cameron "in the spur of the moment, directed Plaintiff in playing the principal-performer role of the Spindley Porter" opposite Kathy Bates (Molly Brown) in her first scene in the movie. Jay was shown carrying luggage and reciting dialogue, according to the suit.
Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment, Earthship Productions, Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures are named in the suit.
Jay, who was not a member of the Screen Actors Guild, says the union should have been notified of his role change and he should have been given the opportunity to join SAG. Had this happened, says the suit, he would have been able to enjoy royalties from foreign screenings of the film, as well as its theatrical re-releases and its cable and television airings.
He is suing for fraud by concealment, right to publicity, and common law appropriation of likeness, among other things. He seeks unspecified damages at a trial by jury.
The defendants named in the suit did not immediately respond to requests for comment.