Actors have learnt by now that when director Wolfgang Petersen calls it is time to strap on the water wings.
The Geman director is probably most famous for two ocean based dramas - the claustrophobically intense Das Boot, about a U boat crew's struggle for survival.
And The Perfect Storm, the basedon-a-true-story account of the sinking of the fishing boat the Andrea Gail and the loss of its crew.
Even in his sword and sandals epic Troy, Wolfgang managed at least one eye-popping sea shot, of ships bearing Greeks heading towards Troy to reclaim the face that launched them - Helen.
So actor Kurt Russell had an inkling of what he was in for when Wolfgang approached him with the idea of remaking Poseidon, one of the superior disaster movies of the 70s, in which a cruise liner is flipped by a giant wave and a band of survivors battle their way to the surface.
"I always thought Poseidon was a fun movie and I always thought it had taken its place in film lore," says Kurt. "If you can do Mutiny on the Bounty three times I think you can safely say that you can do The Poseidon Adventure again.
"To be honest, it wasn't a movie I did because I loved the character, it was because I wanted to work with Wolfgang. I also liked that at the end of the movie you are forced to ask 'which person would I be. Would I be the person that stayed in that (ball) room or would I try to get out. Would I survive all the way to the end or would I be the person that had the accident'?"
Kurt plays a former mayor of New York, an ex-fire fighter who is taking the cruise with his daughter and her boyfriend.
It is the character's background in the emergency services that can help him most as the group struggle to get to the bottom of the ship - now the top.
And Kurt, while one would hesitate to call him a method actor, has had his fair share of tight situations to draw from, though more in the air than in water.
"I have a yacht that I learned to captain but it is in airplanes that I've had maybe six or seven times where if I didn't get it figured out in the next 60 seconds the plane was going to go down.
"Over the last 20 years that has made me a pretty observant guy when it comes to emergencies. You have to get a hold of the situation so you can make the best choices. Don't look at what you don't have, look at what you do have. It is amazing how astute you can get."
Resourcefulness notwithstanding, the 55-year-old actor found he was facing unexpected dangers from the effects of spending so many days in the water.
Co-star Josh Lucas, who snapped tendons in his hand and had to spend several months in a cast, described conditions as like being in "a petrie dish sharing urine and blood."
Several actors suffered concussion and Kurt contracted pneumonia.
"It was a very old set that we were in. Very dirty. Fire and smoke all day long. I got influenza then a bad sinus infection and then I got pneumonia, all back to back.
"Everybody got sick. It's just that kind of movie. You are not doing it CGI. You're doing it live."
The movie has been described as having no stars, in the name above the title sense. Certainly it has no A-listers, whose wage demands would probably have sunk a budget earmarked for special effects, however, this rather brutally dismisses the pedigree of some of the cast (which includes Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss).
It certainly plays down the achievements of Russell who has survived child stardom to carve out an impressive body of work as a sort of everyman hero.
He has proved to have considerably more staying power than many of his back-combed contemporaries from the 80s.
Popcorn entertainment such as Tequila Sunrise, Backdraft, Stargate and Tombstone have been balanced by more character driven pieces like The Mean Season, Silkwood and Breakdown.
He has also starred in several cult hits, without being confined to them, including Escape from New York and Big Trouble in Little China. And no actor could be ashamed of a CV that included The Thing. He also does a remarkably good Elvis (Elvis, Forrest Gump).
"I have been very fortunate in my life that DVD and video came along when they did because all the movies I did that weren't seen much when they came out, they had a second life that was a longer, deeper, slower find."
Not given to brooding about his roles, Kurt rather casually dismisses his work as something he does "to feed my family."
But with Goldie Hawn as his partner, and stepdaughter and stepson Kate Hudson and Oliver Hudson both branching successfully into acting, this was never a family who needed a meal ticket.
Kurt still does it because he loves it. His dad Bing turned to acting after a career as a baseball player.
Best known as the sheriff in Bonanza he worked mostly in small roles in popular series.
"I thought it was a wonderful world to explore, to make a living out of. My dad came home a lot whereas other fathers didn't.
"He didn't have to get up and go to work a lot of the time and I thought that was cool.
"I liked the idea of story telling, being part of the process. I think there is a lot about Hollywood that I didn't care to be a part of. I'm not in the scene. But I got a lot out of cinema. I do my job."
Poseidon is out now.