As my star continued to rise at Fox, I came to realize that the relationship between an actor and a studio was complex, and not always in the actor's best interests. After "Titanic," I was making a movie for Robert D. Webb called "Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef," when my co-star Terry Moore suddenly realized she was pregnant. The father was Howard Hughes. She got very weepy and told me about the situation. Obviously, she told a few other people as well, because the studio blindsided both of us by releasing a story that we were engaged! They never called, they never told me they were going to do this, it just appeared in the papers.
I was livid; for one thing, I was very involved with Barbara and called her from Tarpon Springs every night, while Terry was calling Hughes every night. Terry was also a much younger woman, and Barbara was – how to put this delicately? -- not pleased about that. Beyond that, the studio was trying to railroad Terry and me into a marriage for their convenience. They evidently thought I was terribly suggestible, I would succumb to the pressure, and the resulting marriage would be great for the movie, great for my career and, not coincidentally, great for the studio.
It was at that point that I realized the true nature of the transaction between an actor and a movie studio. Fox was very interested in me in terms of generating publicity for a movie or a series of movies. They wanted to create momentum for me as an actor, as a personality, but they had a very limited interest in what was best for me as a human being. I was looking for a home, and they were looking for a saleable commodity. It was a difficult but necessary lesson, and I'm glad I learned it early.
So everybody was in the loop but Terry and me. She was not only in tears about being pregnant, she was in tears because she was being pressured to marry somebody she didn't love. And I started getting congratulatory telegrams from people about my impending marriage!
There was nothing to do but be blunt. I told Harry Brand there was no chance of my marrying Terry, not then, not ever. Fox never actually retracted the stories so much as they let them dry up.
Being part of events like this, as well as witnessing other things, made me realize that there is no more brutal, front-runner's business in the world. The pressures can be staggering. I remember being on the set of "Love is a Many Splendored Thing," and watching Jennifer Jones work. I noticed the hem of her skirt vibrating. I looked down and saw that her knees were quivering like aspen leaves. She was absolutely terrified! Over on the side, behind the big lights, I could see a pair of shoes that belonged to her husband, the great producer David O. Selznick. He was hovering, making sure that his Jennifer was all right. But it was clear that Jennifer wasn't all right, and never would be. As experiences like these began to accumulate, I began to realize that it was mandatory to have some kind of meaningful life outside the movie business.
So the marriage to Terry Moore didn't happen. For that matter, neither did the baby.