Must Read: New Yorker's Phenomenal Profile on James Cameron
I just finished reading, perhaps, the best article about the career and life of James Cameron that I have ever read. The New Yorker just published their epic (12 pages long - fitting for Cameron) profile on the filmmaker, detailing his early life and early career, from Terminator to The Abyss, his five wives (there are some funny stories in that section), to what he's been doing the last 10 years (scuba diving, developing 3D cameras, etc), and of course, all about Avatar and its development. Dana Goodyear spent more than a year writing this profile and it's this kind of awe-inspiring film journalism that I admire more than anything.
There's nothing more I can do than suggest that you drop whatever it is you're reading and head over to The New Yorker and start working your way through this epic profile yourself. Not only is inspiring, but it's often times amusing and very entertaining to read. We get to see a side of Cameron that I never knew existed - not only his brilliance as a filmmaker, but his crazy, work-a-holic side as well. And if you're still hesitant about reading this, I've pulled some of my favorite quotes to give you a taste of what lies within. Give these a taste:
Cameron behaves as if he were the embattled protagonist of one of his own films—an ordinary Joe beaten on the anvil of extraordinary trials. "The words 'No' and 'That’s impossible' and phrases like 'That can’t be done'—that's the stuff that gives him an erection," the actor Bill Paxton, who has worked with Cameron since the early eighties, says. Cameron reserves a special quotient of his anger for suits who get in his way. 'Tell your friend he's getting fucked in the ass, and if he would stop squirming it wouldn't hurt so much" was the message he once told a Fox producer to deliver to an executive at the studio. He sees himself as essentially outside and other and alone; he bites the hand that feeds.
"Creating a universe is daunting," George Lucas said. "I'm glad Jim is doing it—there are only a few people in the world who are nuts enough to. I did it with 'Star Wars,' and now he's trying to challenge that. It's a lot of work. I do believe Jim will take this further out than anyone's ever conceived of."
"We made up the three barrel guns," [Cameron] said. "The two waist guns are .30-calibre machine guns modified for the movie. It's an older model, a Vietnam-era M60. The idea is that Pandora has such a hot, humid climate, with incredibly powerful magnetic fields, that they can't use sophisticated energy weapons. A lot of the equipment is retrofitted, from their perspective, because it works on Pandora. So you've got vehicles that are more consistent with twentieth-century warfare." His face was flushed and happy. "It's all just an excuse to do helicopters versus pterodactyls," he said.
There are so many great stories in this - how Arnold Schwarzenegger first got attached to Terminator or how The Abyss was absolute hell to shoot - but the one I was fascinated by the most (and is most pertinent to what's going on now with Cameron) was about how Titanic was called a failure before it was released. And I see the exact same things happening now with Avatar - how it's being trashed by fanboys and deemed a failure months before its release as well. Will we, perhaps, see a repeat of Titanic with Avatar? They're not at all similar in any way (besides the director), but is this early backlash just a repeat of Cameron's history?
This article - everything that Cameron says, his passion, his madness, his creativity - it's exactly why I love this guy so frickin' much. It's exactly why I've written about him and/or Avatar countless times over the last three years. To me, Cameron is more than a filmmaker, he's an icon, an inspiration, someone whose movies have brought more joy to my life than almost anyone else. Maybe why he's crazy is best summed up by Linda Hamilton explaining why their marriage didn't work: "He used to say to me, 'Anybody can be a father or a husband. There are only five people in the world who can do what I do, and I'm going for that.'"
So do yourself a favor and read this profile on Cameron - it's one of the best articles you'll read this year.