James Cameron (I)Writer | Producer | Director
Date of Birth 16 August 1954, Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada
Birth Name James Francis Cameron
Nicknames Iron Jim
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)
James Francis Cameron was born on August 16, 1954 in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada. He moved to the United States in 1971. The son of an engineer, he majored in physics at California State University before switching to English, and eventually dropping out. He then drove a truck to support his screenwriting ambition. He landed his first professional film job as art director, miniature-set builder, and process-projection supervisor on Roger Corman's Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) and had his first experience as a director with a two week stint on Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981) before being fired. In 1984, he wrote and directed The Terminator (1984), a futuristic action-thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton. It was a huge success. After this came a string of successful science-fiction action films such as Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). In 1990, Cameron formed his own production company, Lightstorm Entertainment. In 1997, he wrote and directed Titanic (1997), a romance epic about two young lovers from social classes who meet on board the famous ship. The movie went on to break all box office records and earned eleven Academy Awards. It became the highest grossing movie of all time. The rest is history. James Cameron is now one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood. He was formerly married to producer Gale Anne Hurd, who produced several of his films. In 2000, he married actress Suzy Amis, who appeared in Titanic, and they have three children.
Suzy Amis (4 June 2000 - present) (3 children)
Linda Hamilton (26 July 1997 - 16 December 1999) (divorced) (1 child)
Kathryn Bigelow (17 August 1989 - 10 November 1991) (divorced)
Gale Anne Hurd (1985 - 1989) (divorced)
Sharon Williams (14 February 1978 - 14 July 1984) (divorced)
Strong female characters
Frequently casts Michael Biehn, Jenette Goldstein, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
His films frequently feature scenes filmed in deep blues
Plots or events involving nuclear explosions or wars
Likes to make nice/effective cuts
Likes to show close-up shots of feet or wheels, often trampling things
Tight/close-up tracking shots on vehicles, especially during chase scenes
Brings camera in close during fight scenes, achieving a claustrophobic effect.
Cameron's films tend to include broken, swinging flourescent lights, especially in fight scenes. See:The Abyss (1989), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), True Lies (1994) and Strange Days (1995).
Often includes sequences in which a video monitor is the perspective of the camera. For example, the T-800's viewpoint in infrared in The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), the video log in Avatar (2009), the helmet cameras in Aliens (1986), Little Geek exploring the submarine in The Abyss (1989), television newscasts in The Abyss (1989), the surveilance cameras in True Lies (1994), the SQUID sequences in Strange Days (1995), and Brock's "Geraldo Moment" at the beginning of Titanic (1997). He uses this perspective at least once in every movie he is tied with.
Often features shots of large explosions, crashes, gunshots, etc. in the background with people running away in the foreground. These shots were used heavily in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and True Lies (1994) but also in other films.
[Dreams] Often works dreams or characters sleeping into the plot
His films tend to have scenes with elevators with something dangerous happening near or in them. In Aliens (1986), Ripley goes up and down a cargo elevator several times, exiting the complex and then going backwhile loading weapons to get Newt and then leaving with the Queen Alien following. The Queen Alien rides the elevator to follow Ripley. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Sara sees the T-800 for the first time exiting an elevator. The T-1000 is shot from outside the elevator and then attacks Sara, John and the T-800 above it. In another scene, Sara, John and the T-800 crash in an elevator after an explosion on a higher floor. They are then gassed by the SWAT team at the bottom. In True Lies (1994), Harry enters an elevator on a horse in pursuit of a terrorist in the opposite elevator on a motorcycle. In Titanic (1997), Rose goes up an elevator with Jack to escape her fiancé. In another scene, Rose goes down an elevator to a flooded floor, filling it with water.
Utilizes slow motion in intense scenes or to intensify a scene
Often employs composers Brad Fiedel and James Horner to score his films.
His films frequently depict children in some kind of danger
Many of his films have water or the ocean as a central theme
The use of machines as an important plot, point or weapon: in both Aliens and Avatar, the soldiers use a similar machine to fight in the final battle, the Terminators are machines, and The Abyss also features a lot of machines important to the plot.
Directs blockbusters which often have one-word titles, which are also the subjects of them: "(The) Terminator", "(The) Abyss", "Titanic", "Aliens" and "Avatar".
In all his films, at least one character yells "Go! Go! Go!"
Known on-set for being very tough and demanding, and having a temper... hence his nickname "Iron Jim". However, off-set he is known to be very kind.
Has a tendency to cast well-known actors based on their performances in lesser-known films. For example, Michelle Rodriguez in "Girlfight" and Billy Zane in "The Phantom".
Often includes the theme of humanity's arrogance and over-reliance of technology
He often uses dates from the month of August as dates in his films (August is the month of his birthday). For instance, Judgment Day in the Terminator films is said to be August 29th. Also, the last date of Jake's video log entry in "Avatar" is August 21st.
Brother of Mike Cameron and John David Cameron.
According to Cameron, he got his big break while doing pick-up shots for Galaxy of Terror (1981) as second unit director. He was shooting scenes of a dismembered arm teeming with maggots (actually mealworms). In order to make them move, he hooked up an AC power cord to the arm, and an unseen assistant would plug it in when the film was rolling. Two producers were strolling through, and when Cameron yelled "Action!" the worms began to writhe on cue. When he yelled "Cut!" the worms stopped. The producers were so amazed at his directing prowess that they began talking with him about bigger projects.
His production company is Lightstorm Entertainment.
One of the founders of visual effects company Digital Domain.
While editing Titanic (1997), Cameron had a razor blade taped to the side of the editing computer with the instructions written underneath: "Use only if film sucks!".
Jokingly refers to Titanic (1997) as his 190 Million Dollar "Chick Flick".
First director to film both a $100 million (Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)) and a $200 million (Titanic (1997)) movie.
Cameron is in talks with RKK Energia and MirCorp to pay his way on board the Mir space station (or the ISS, should Mir be deorbited). He has been given the medical green light, and has already ridden aboard the Ilushin-76 jet used to train cosmonauts for space missions. [September 2000]
Daughter Claire, with wife Suzy Amis, born. [April 2001]
Has a stepson named Jasper, from Suzy Amis' marriage to Sam Robards.
Was forced to settle a copyright lawsuit brought by Harlan Ellison involving the movie The Terminator (1984). Newer prints of the film acknowledge Ellison. Cameron thought he could win the suit, but was told by the studio that he would be made responsible for financial damages in case of a loss. Unable to take the financial risk, he begrudgingly agreed to the settlement..
Went to elementary school in Chippawa, Ontario.
First wife Sharon Williams got just $1,200 from Cameron in their divorce settlement.
The eldest of five children.
Security is provided by Gavin de Becker, author of "The Gift of Fear."
He and Suzy Amis are owners of Childspot!, an early childhood center in Wichita, Kansas which is operated by Suzy's sister, Rebecca Amis.
Wrote a screenplay for Spider-Man (2002), but was turned down by the studios, due to the fact that his version of Spider-Man was "too violent". Sam Raimi's version got the green light instead.
Married one of his producers and two of his actresses.
His practice of testing his directors of photography by darkening the film originated on Aliens (1986). Cameron wanted to use a particular type of film stock, but cinematographer Dick Bush ignored him and used a different type. The end result being that the footage shot ended up being unusably dark. After Bush was fired due to an unrelated incident and Adrian Biddle took over, Cameron found some of the film in a storage cupboard and had the camera operators use it instead of the film Biddle had told them to use. Biddle noticed what was going on after the first take, and compensated with extra lighting, hoping to hide his "mistake" from Cameron, who owned up at the end of the day. Cameron later did the same to Mikael Salomon on The Abyss (1989) and to Russell Carpenter on True Lies (1994).
Is a huge Japanese anime fan, and the releasing studios often uses his opinion about the film on the DVD and VHS covers.
On the 14 March 2004 episode of Inside the Actors Studio (1994), Kate Winslet claimed her nude portrait for Leonardo DiCaprio in the film Titanic (1997) was drawn by Cameron. She also said the artist's hand shown in a close-up was Cameron's.
The mandibles of the Predator from Predator (1987) were his idea.
One of only two people to have both written and directed an Alien movie. The other is Paul W.S. Anderson.
A magazine article written about him in the 1980s described how he had three desks set up in his house. At one desk, he was writing the script to The Terminator (1984), on another, he was finishing the script to Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and on the third, he was writing Aliens (1986).
When he wrote an early script treatment for Spider-Man (2002), he had the idea of organic web-shooters. This was later included in Sam Raimi's film.
Has developed a new generation stereo imaging camera called "The Fusion Camera".
The titles of his two current theatrical documentaries contain the titles of two of his previous films; the title of his documentary Ghosts of the Abyss (2003) contains the title of his previous film The Abyss (1989), and the title of his other documentary Aliens of the Deep (2005) contains the title of another one of his previous films, Aliens (1986).
Member of the American Cinema Editors (ACE).
The October 1987 draft of the screenplay for Alien Nation (1988) credits a rewrite to James Cameron. He is not credited in the final film.
Is left-handed. He drew the picture of Rose (Kate Winslet) in the movie Titanic (1997). The image was flipped so it would appear that Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) was drawing it with his right hand.
Was interested in remaking Planet of the Apes (1968), but his script was turned down. Another script was then developed and eventually made by Tim Burton in 2001.
Had a daughter, Elizabeth Rose, with Suzy Amis (born 29 December 2006).
Considered directing Solaris (2002), but opted to produce instead. Job went to Steven Soderbergh.
2007 - Ranked #3 on EW's The 50 Smartest People in Hollywood.
After seeing Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), Cameron quit his job as a truck driver to enter the film industry.
Received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in 2008. Says he's too cheap to pay for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Has a daughter, Josephine Archer Cameron, with Linda Hamilton (born 15 February 1993).
Ex-brother-in-law of Leslie Hamilton Gearren.
Apart from Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981) and The Terminator (1984), all of his films have been nominated for or won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
First director to make 2 films which have grossed more than $1 billion in the worldwide box office (Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009)). Cameron is now tied for the billion-dollar film record with Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson. Nolan's The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) finished their runs with over $1 billion in overall grosses. Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) also finished their runs with over $1 billion in overall grosses.
Three of his films have made it to the IMDb top 250 list: The Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and Aliens (1986). Avatar (2009) briefly made the list, but ultimately dropped out of it.
In 2010, his movie Avatar (2009) became the highest grossing movie of all time, not adjusted for inflation. It is also the first movie to gross the 2 billion dollar mark at the box office. Until Avatar (2009), Cameron's previous movie Titanic (1997) was the highest grossing movie of all time for 12 years (also not adjusted for inflation).
In an interview with Tavis Smiley, revealed that he was a truck driver before going into film directing.
Lives in Malibu and Calabasas, California.
(May 10, 2010) Merited a place in Time magazine's - The 100 Most Influential People in the World ("Artists" category) - with an homage penned by Sigourney Weaver.
Was an avid reader of Arthur C. Clarke, A.E. van Vogt, Harlan Ellison and Larry Niven novels as a child.
Has directed 3 actresses in Oscar-nominated performances: Sigourney Weaver (Best Actress, Aliens (1986)), Kate Winslet (Best Actress, Titanic (1997)), and Gloria Stuart (Best Supporting Actress, Titanic (1997)).
Directed three of the American Film Institute's 100 Most Heart Pounding Movies: Titanic (1997) at #25, The Terminator (1984) at #42 and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) at #77. Aliens (1986) was also nominated but didn't make the list.
He named his five favorite films as The Wizard of Oz (1939), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The Godfather (1972) and Taxi Driver (1976).
Insists that any actor in his films must audition for him, even major stars.
Cameron reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench on 25 March 2012, becoming the first person to do so in a one-man craft. The Mariana Trench is the deepest known point on Earth, at 11 km (6.8 miles) below the ocean surface. The vehicle in which he achieved this feat is the Deepsea Challenger (DCV 1), designed built in Sydney, Australia by research and design company Acheron Project Pty Ltd. Cameron is the first person to spend significant time at that depth, having explored the area for three hours after arrival. He later famously commented "Hitting rock bottom never felt so good".
Since 1984, all of his films' titles have begin with either the letters 'T' or 'A'. Or, in the case of The Abyss (1989), both (depending on whether you want to classify the film as "The Abyss" or "Abyss, The").
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on December 18, 2009.
Despite his reputation for working constantly and for very long hours, he stopped drinking caffeinated coffee after he made Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and only drinks decaf now.
Is very close friends with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Has frequently worked with the cast of the Star Trek films. Paul Winfield appeared in The Terminator (1984) and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Jenette Goldstein, who appeared in Aliens (1986), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and Titanic (1997), also appears briefly in Star Trek: Generations (1994). Goldstein's Aliens (1986) character was also the inspiration for Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby), and she was the original choice for the role. Mark Rolston, who appeared in Aliens (1986), also appeared on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987). Edward Furlong appeared in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and Star Trek: Renegades (2015). Zoe Saldana appeared in Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) and Avatar (2009). David Warner appeared in Titanic (1997), Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). In addition, Thomas Dekker appeared in Star Trek: Generations (1994) and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008) as John Connor, while the character's father, Kyle Reese, was played in Terminator Salvation (2009) by Anton Yelchin. Bryce Dallas Howard, who also appeared in Terminator Salvation (2009), is the niece of Clint Howard, who appeared on an early episode of the original series. Bill Paxton's Aliens character, Hudson, inspired the Sam Rockwell character in the Star Trek spoof, Galaxy Quest (1999).
Son, James Quinn (known as Quinn), with wife Suzy Amis, born. [September 2003]
Not only did he try to make a Spider-Man film, he also tried to make a X-Men movie with his fellow filmmaker and his then wife Kathryn Biggelow.
Was considered to direct a Spider-Man film on two occasions, first on Spider-Man (2002) and then on The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) ten years later.
Did uncredited voice overs for The Terminator (1984) (as Sarah Connor's (Linda Hamilton) date on the answering machine) and True Lies (1994) as the helicopter pilot who flatly says, "he's got her head in his lap. Yahoo.".
He has had 5 of his films win the Oscar for Visual Effects: Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Titanic (1997), and Avatar (2009).
Friends with Bill Paxton.
He's a big fan of Zack Snyder, whose films he has praised as an inspiration for some of his own work.