Cheat Sheet: James Cameron
Date of Birth:
16 August, 1954
Place of birth:
Writing, Directing, journeying to the deepest depths of the ocean
Titanic, Avatar, Aliens, The Terminator, The Abyss, True Lies
What you probably already know:
At the moment there’s probably only one film James Cameron is talking about, again, and that’s Titanic 3D. Released here on Friday, it’s worth remembering that Cameron not only directed the original 1997 film, but he also wrote the script while on a series of deep-sea dives to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. With 14 Oscar nominations, 11 wins and the joint-title of highest-grossing film ever made (shared with Cameron’s Avatar), it’s no wonder he’s hoping to recreate the film’s original success with some added 3D effects and a well-timed release (hello, 100th anniversay of the actual Titanic!).
The name James Cameron is also synonymous with Avatar; the film may have cost him $300 billion to make, but it certainly reaped the benefits afterwards. it broke the record for highest-grossing film ever, picking up three Oscars along the way for the insanely-good cinematography and revolutionary special effects. Even Steven Spielberg heaped praise upon the flick, calling it “the most evocative and amazing science-fiction movie since Star Wars“… high praise indeed from the Lord of cinema himself!
What you probably don’t know:
Cameron is a member of the NASA Advisory Board and is working on the project to help them put cameras on Mars during an unmanned mission. And, as if that weren’t space-heavy enough, he’s also an active campaigner and supporter of the Mars Society. What’s the Mars Society? Why, it’s a non-profit organisation who spend their time lobbying in support of the colonisation of Mars.
What else? How about the fact that he’s the first person to ever successfully attempt a solo mission to the Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the Mariana Ocean Trench. He chilled out on the ocean floor for three hours in a deep-sea submersible before returning to the surface for a little more scriptwriting. How about we all start calling him Captain Nemo?
And one more? How about the fact that, despite his wildly-successful work in the film industry, he’s earned himself a reputation as a nightmare to work with. Kate Winslet, his leading lady on Titanic, admitted to the press that Cameron’s temper made him an unbearable presence on set and that it would take “a lot of money” to make her consider doing it all over again. Orson Scott Card, who worked with Cameron on The Abyss, labelled the director as “hell on wheels” and explained that the two would never collaborate again: “life is too short to collaborate with selfish, cruel people.”
Add all of this to Sam Worthington’s tales of Cameron using a nail gun to attach his crew’s phones to the walls, not to mention his five failed marriages, and you paint a not-so-pretty picture of the director and screenwriter’s personality.
James Cameron quote:
“I don’t look at scripts. I just write them.”
What to say about him at a dinner party:
“James Cameron hs revolutionised the way we look at films; his innovative approach to filmmaking, not to mention his efforts to revolutionise digital 3D projection, is allowing us to enter a new age of cinema. He provides us time and time again with unbelievably stunning visual experiences, allowing audiences to become a part of the film, rather than a mere spectator.”
What not to say about him at a dinner party:
“Yeah, but he’s a money-grabbing asshole, isn’t he? We didn’t need Titanic to happen in 3D. We didn’t need TWO sequels to Avatar. Whatever happened to writing new material?”
Despite his explosive temper, unlikeable personality and penchance for heaping on special effects in place of a good story, there’s no denying that James Cameron is definitely worthy of his star on the Hollywood walk of fame. His tireless efforts to transform the way we view cinema, not to mention his unending ability to fuse genuine scientific theory with fantasy, makes him one of our most imaginative and successful directors to date. No wonder he was named Number 1 in The 2010 Guardian Film Power 100 list.