Must Read: New Yorker's Phenomenal Profile on James Cameron

October 19, 2009
Source: The New Yorker

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.

Find more posts: Editorial, Feat, Hype



Cameron needs to step up with avatar. I haven't heard great things yet.

M-Cat on Oct 19, 2009


@M-Cat: He will.

Will Dearborn on Oct 19, 2009


Hey Alex if you're really interested in this stuff theres a book out now that I'm currently reading called The Life and Films of James Cameron: Dreaming Aloud by Christopher Heard. Based on how much you liked this 12 page article I'm sure you will love this 200 and some page book. It pretty much chronicles Cameron's life up to 1997, right before Titanic was released. Anyways Avatar is gonna be better than Star Wars. Thats right I said it. Here's one less man sucking on the teat of George Lucas.

Alex T. on Oct 19, 2009


THEATRICAL TRAILER...NAU! Cameron is the king! 😉

m4st4 on Oct 19, 2009


"you drop whatever it is you're reading" ...........but I'm reading your blog post I want to know how it ends.

scotty on Oct 19, 2009


Don't worry JC will wow us with his take on Aquaman.

WB EXEC on Oct 19, 2009


An interview from The Hour, very good! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQpDD6w6KOs

K on Oct 19, 2009


Watching him light is like watching two monkeys fuck a football

lego on Oct 19, 2009


WOW. I've always been a huge Cameron fan as well. He's Stanley Kubrick and Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton brilliant.

zibo fricka on Oct 19, 2009


We'll see with Avatard.

Tarnish on Oct 19, 2009


Hey just a heads up Alex you may want to add a "Spoiler" alert to the top of this. I've tried to avoid most of the story details on Avatar only to completely screw myself by reading the first page of the interview. ...i

Ira Owens on Oct 19, 2009


The live action scenes were filmed pretty much right next door to where I work in Porirua, New Zealand. Reading that the Na'vi language is based in part on the Maori language was a pleasant surprise. Empire Magazine has a very good article on Avatar. I was astounded to read that Cameron came to New Zealand because Hollywood did not have the hardware to make his vision real. Peter Jackson has at his disposal, the 5th most powerful computer in the World. What remains to be seen is, can Cameron use the technology to tell stories, or is the movie just a chance to show of the technology. I am thinking that Avatar will be the former, and I for one, can't wait.

cinemabandit on Oct 19, 2009


Loved the New Yorker article as I hadn't read much about Cameron before. Long story short: Cameron is a fanatic and absolutely crazy. At the same time, crazy good at what he does. I saw the preview on Avatar Day and can't wait for its release in December.

BL on Oct 19, 2009


..im getting tired of all the articles about James Cameron and Avatar....im not saying it will flop and im not sure it will be a masterpiece....wait and see...wait and see...

splinter on Oct 19, 2009


splinter - Then stop reading them. Not difficult. Quite your complaining. some of us like to read lots about this. Deal with it.

Vold on Oct 19, 2009


This was the most inspirational article I've ever read and actually surpassed a Cinefex article profiling Stan Winston in my eyes. I'm about to have a son and we've decided to name him Cameron James Peloquin and after reading this article I'm reminded of why. And for all the Avatar haters out there (ahem Splinter), here's a little excerpt straight from the mouth of the man himself to shut you all up: (Regarding an LA Times critic who bashed Titanic before its release) “Poor Kenny. He sees himself as the lone voice crying in the wilderness, righteous but not heeded by the blind and dumb ‘great unwashed’ around him. It must be a great burden to be cursed with such clear vision when your misguided flock bray past you, like lemmings, unmindful.” Even now, Cameron resents the media’s treatment of the film. “We were branded as the biggest idiots in movie history,” he told me. “They were just sharpening their knives so they could really take the film apart. Then they couldn’t. So, fuck them. Fuck ’em all.”

peloquin on Oct 19, 2009


Avatar Probably will be a ton times way more better then Transformers 2:Revenge of the Fallen

Jake on Oct 19, 2009


wow. that took me forever to read. but wow. it was so well written. and amazing. also, I still cannot wait until Avatar.

dave13 on Oct 19, 2009


Thanks for the heads up Alex. I've printed this out and will look forward to reading it when I get a free moment.

Payne by name on Oct 20, 2009


17 lmaowrof ! 9.7

ben on Oct 20, 2009


Great read...a must read if you are a fan of any of his work...

Kamish on Oct 21, 2009


So many people I know that have no clue who jim cameron is - are that fucking excited for Avatar. This movie will kick ass. Aliens meets Titanic anyone?

Ed on Oct 27, 2009

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