Director of Titanic
“A director’s job is to make something happen and it doesn’t happen by itself. So you wheedle, you cajole, you flatter people, you tell them what needs to be done. And if you don’t bring a passion and an intensity to it, you shouldn’t be doing it.” James Cameron
Making his first professional film debut as an art director, miniature set builder and process-projection supervisor on a Roger Corman 1980 movie, Academy Award winning director, producer and screenwriter James Cameron came to eminence as the writer and director of the futuristic action-thriller The Terminator (1984), from which he nabbed a Saturn Award and the Grand Prize Award at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival. He furthered this fame with a series of successful science-fiction action films such as Aliens (1986, won a Kinema Junpo Award and two Saturn Awards), The Abyss (1989, netted a Saturn Award) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991, earned a Saturn Award, a Mainichi Film Concours Award and a Bradbury Award at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America), and an action-comedy True Lies (1994, picked up a Saturn Award).
One of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood, Cameron received a number of recognitions and appreciation with the release of the monster hit Titanic (1997), which brought him three Academy Awards, in addition to many other honors, including a Golden Globe Award and a BAFTA Award and a Directors Guild of America Award. After Titanic, which remains one of the most successful movies of all time, Cameron focused on his productive producing career, serving as producer/executive producer for several documentary movies. He also ventured to the small screen with Fox’s sci-fi series “Dark Angel” (2000-2002), starring Jessica Alba.
Cameron is scheduled to direct the upcoming sci-fi films Battle Angel and Avatar (both 2009).
As for his personal life, Cameron is widely known for his five marriages. He was married to Sharon Williams from 1978 to 1984, Gale Anne Hurd from 1985 to 1989 and Kathryn Bigelow from 1989 to 1991. After divorcing actress Linda Hamilton (1997-1999), with whom he has a daughter, Josephine Archer Cameron (born in 1993), Cameron married his current wife, actress Suzy Amis, in 2004. They have three children together and Cameron became the stepfather of Jasper Robards, Amis’ son from a previous relationship.
Cameron is a member of the Mars Society.
Childhood and Family:
James Francis Cameron was born on August 16, 1954, in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada, to Phillip Cameron, an electrical engineer, and Shirley Cameron, an artist. He has two younger brothers, Mike, an actor and stuntman, and John David, a former Marine who was born in 1969. Growing up in Chippawa, Ontario, young James was interested in science fiction and astronomy and even wrote his own sci-fi short story at age 12. He also was amazed by Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In 1971, James relocated to Brea, California, with his family and studied physics at the California State University in Fullerton, California. He later dropped out and found himself working as a truck driver. He quit his job to begin a career in film.
James, whose nickname is Iron Jim, has been married five times. He married first wife Sharon Williamson on February, 14, 1978, but they divorced in 1984. He then married producer Gale Anne Hurd and became the stepfather of Lolita, Hurd’s daughter with Brian de Palma. The marriage, however, only lasted for four years (from 1985 to 1989). On August 17, 1989, James tied the knot with director-producer Kathryn Bigelow, but the bond ended in separation in 1991. Two years later, on February 15, 1993, he welcomed a daughter named Josephine Archer Cameron with his actress-girlfriend Linda Hamilton, who was previously married to actor Bruce Abbott and had a son named Dalton Abbott (born in 1989). The two eventually married on July 26, 1997, but in 1999, Hamilton filed for divorce from James after discovering he was having an affair with actress Suzy Amis. James and Amis married on June 4, 2000. They are the parents of a son, Quinn, and two daughters, Claire (born on April 4, 2001) and Elizabeth Rose (born on December 26, 2006). Amis also has a son, Jasper Robards, from her marriage to Sam Robards.
Writer of Terminator
James Cameron inspired to become a filmmaker after watching George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977). He raised personal financing and directed, shot, edited and created miniatures for his first 12-minute short Xenogenesis (1978). Recognizing his potential, Roger Corman of New World Pictures hired him to be an art director, miniature set builder and process-projection supervisor for Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). Cameron followed it up with work in John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981), as a special effects director of photography, and Galaxy of Terror (1981), as a production designer and second unit director, before launching himself as a movie director with the ill-conceived installment Piranha II: The Spawning (1981).
Cameron received his first break in 1984 with his sophomore effort, The Terminator, which he co-penned with producer and future wife Gale Anne Hurd. Starring Austrian bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role, Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese and Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor, the futuristic action-thriller movie was a massive hit, grossing over $38 million domestically with a budget of only $6.5 million. The Terminator brought Cameron a Saturn for Best Writing and a Grand Prize from the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival.
The following year, Cameron served as a screenwriter for Rambo: First Blood II, a credit he shared with the star Sylvester Stallone. Despite the film’s huge commercial success, Cameron jointly received a Razzie in the Worst Screenplay category. Next up for Cameron, he took double duty as writer and director for the Sigourney Weaver vehicle Aliens (1986), the sequel to Ridley Scott’s remarkably horrific 1979’s Alien. The science-fiction film was a blockbuster smash and nabbed seven Academy Award nominations, including a Best Actress nomination for Weaver, and won two statues in the categories of Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects. As for Cameron, he was handed two Saturn awards for Best Director and Best Writing, and a Kinema Junpo for Best Foreign Language Film. After the extraordinary hit of Aliens, the writer-director became a hot commodity in Hollywood.
At the end of the decade, Cameron once again attracted public attention with the release of The Abyss, a sci-fi thriller he wrote and directed which was regarded as one of the highest budgeted movies of its era. His work paid off when The Abyss, starring Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, debuted at No. 1 at the box office and stayed there for two consecutive weeks. Produced on a budget of about $41 million U.S., it finally earned $85.2 million domestically and $46 million internationally. The movie also won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects and Cameron was handed his next Saturn for Best Director. The next year, he formed his own production company, Lightstorm Entertainment, which produced all of his ensuing movies.
In 1991, Cameron produced, directed and co-scripted (with longtime friend William Wisher, Jr.) the installment Terminator 2: Judgment Day, starring (again) Schwarzenegger and Hamilton, and Robert Patrick as the villain T-1000. With a budget of about $100 million, the film became one of the most expensive films of its time and went on to break box office records with earnings of over $200 million domestically and over $300 million in foreign markets, making Terminator 2 the year’s highest-grossing film. It picked up four Oscars and brought Cameron a Saturn for Best Director, a Mainichi Film Concours for Best Foreign Film and the Bradbury Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
A year later, Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment penned an exclusive five year, 12-picture distribution deal with Twentieth Century Fox with Lightstorm given total creative control and a big share of the profit. The first release True Lies (1994), an action-comedy starring Schwarzenegger as a secret-agent spy who leads a double life as a married man, Jamie Lee Curtis as his onscreen wife and Tom Arnold as the secret-agent’s sidekick, gained commercial success in North America and overseas with total earnings of $378 million. For his effort, Cameron won a 1995 Saturn for Best Director. The same year, he was also awarded a ShoWest for Producer of the Year.
However, Cameron did not reach the peak of his prominence until he directed, wrote and produced Titanic, which revolved around a fictional romantic tale of two young lovers from different social classes (played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) who meet on the wretched voyage of the “unsinkable” ship. Made for about $200 million, the drama/romance movie became the priciest outing ever made and was extensively scorned for its cost and long-drawn-out production schedule. Released theatrically on December 19, 1997, Titanic collected $28 million on its first weekend and stayed in the No. 1 spot on the box-office charts for months. It eventually became the highest grossing movie of all time, grossing a total of over $600 million nationally and more than $1.2 billion outside North America. For his spectacular work, Cameron took home three Oscars, one for Best Director, Best Picture and Best Film Editing, a Golden Globe for Best Director-Motion Picture, a BAFTA for Direction, and a Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Picture, among other honors.
The new millennium saw Cameron move to television when he co-created and executive produced the Fox science-fiction series “Dark Angel,” where he directed the finale of the 2001-2002 season. It starred Jessica Alba as Max Guevera/X5-452, a genetically improved transgenic super-soldier constructed by the super-secretive Manticore organization. Other players included Michael Weatherly, John Savage, Valarie Rae Miller and J.C. MacKenzie. Despite its first season success, “Dark Angel” was cancelled the following season due to low ratings. He then executive produced Steven Soderbergh’s remake of the sci-fi classic feature Solaris (2002) and served as producer for such fascinating documentaries as Expedition: Bismarck (2002), Ghosts of the Abyss (2003), Volcanoes of the Deep Sea (2003), and Aliens of the Deep (2005, also co-directed with Steven Quale). He also rejoined Gale Anne Hurd for the script of Terminator 3 (2003), directed by Jonathan Mostow.
Recently serving as executive producer for the documentary film The Lost Tomb of Jesus (2007), Cameron is set to return to the director’s char for the sci-fi thriller Avatar (2009), where he will also serve as writer and producer. For the upcoming project, he will cast Sam Worthington as Jake Sully, Zoe Saldana as Neytiri and Laz Alonso as Tsu’Tey. He is also directing, writing and producing Battle Angel (2009), based on the Japanese “Gunnm” (released in North America under the title “Battle Angel Alita”) and is in negotiations to work on the based-on-true-story The Dive (2008).
A noted filmmaker, Cameron also sporadically appeared as himself in some film and television productions, including the Albert Brooks/Sharon Stone comedy The Muse (1999), the final episode of the long-running sitcom “Mad About You” (1998) and on the popular HBO sitcom “Entourage” (2005). He also once appeared on the hit sketch-comedy series “Saturday Night Live.”
- PGA Golden Laurel: Vanguard Award, 2004
- Satellite: Nicola Tesla Award, 2004
- Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: President’s Award, 2003
- American Cinema Editors: Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award, 2000
- Mainichi Film Concours: Best Foreign Language Film, Titanic, 1999
- International Monitor: Theatrical Releases - Color Correction, Titanic, 1999
- Malibu Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award, 1999
- Academy Award: Best Director, Titanic, 1998
- Academy Award: Best Film Editing, Titanic, 1998
- Academy Award: Best Picture, Titanic, 1998
- Golden Globes: Best Director - Motion Picture, Titanic, 1998
- Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: President’s Award, 1998
- American Cinema Editors: Best Edited Feature Film, Titanic, 1998
- BAFTA: David Lean Award, Direction, Titanic, 1998
- Blue Ribbon: Best Foreign Language Film, Titanic, 1998
- Broadcast Film Critics Association: Best Director, Titanic, 1998
- Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association: Best Director, Titanic, 1998
- Directors Guild of America: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Titanic, 1998
- Amanda Award (Norway): Best Foreign Feature Film, Titanic, 1998
- Hochi Film: Best Foreign Language Film, Titanic, 1998
- Kansas City Film Critics Circle: Best Director, Titanic, 1998
- Las Vegas Film Critics Society: Best Director, Titanic, 1998
- Online Film Critics Society: Best Director, Titanic, 1998
- PGA Golden Laurel: Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award, Titanic, 1998
- Satellite: Best Motion Picture - Drama, Titanic, 1998
- Satellite: Best Director of a Motion Picture, Titanic, 1998
- National Board of Review: Special Citation, Titanic, 1997 (for the use of special effects technology)
- Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Saturn, Best Director, True Lies, 1995
- ShoWest Convention: ShoWest Award - Producer of the Year, 1995
- Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America: Bradbury Award, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1992
- Mainichi Film Concours: Best Foreign Language Film, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1992
- Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Saturn, Best Director, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1992
- Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Saturn, Best Director, The Abyss, 1991
- Kinema Junpo: Best Foreign Language Film, Aliens, 1987
- Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Saturn, Best Director, Aliens, 1987
- Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Saturn, Best Writing, Aliens, 1987
- Razzie: Worst Screenplay, Rambo: First Blood Part II, 1986
- Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Saturn, Best Writing, The Terminator, 1985
- Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival: Grand Prize, The Terminator, 1985