The Religious Affiliation of Director
James Cameron biographer Marc Shapiro describes Cameron's parents as coming from "traditional families with religious values." Shapiro describes Cameron himself as "only marginally religious." Although Cameron's family background is apparently Protestant, at least nominally, there is little indication that Cameron has had a strong affiliation with any specific religious denomination, or that he has ever been an active member of an organized religious denomination or congregation as an adult.
About James Cameron's childhood, growing up in Canada near Niagra Falls. From: Marc Shapiro, James Cameron: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker, Renaissance Books: Los Angeles (2000), pages 23-25:
The town of Kapuskasing is located halfway between the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and Toronto. It's a hamlet whose population has rarely risen above 11,000... It is where [James Cameron's parents] Phillip and Shirley Cameron chose to start their life together.
Philip and Shirley Cameron's relationship was typical of the postwar courtships and marriages that took root in the Great White North. They were young and in love. They came from similar, working-class, traditional families with religious values. And they had just enough in common to believe that their love would last a lifetime.
Philip Cameron... was a lay-down-the-law, no-nonense kind of guy, a proud by-product of the "Spare the rod, spoil the child" attitude of the 1930s. Shirley had likewise grown up in a rigid, traditional home but, unlike her husband, had been encouraged to develop a passionate creative side.. As a young child, Shirley Cameron gravitated toward the arts, and in particular, drawing and painting., and along the way developed a very liberal sense of freedom and individuality. Howerver, hwer life plan took unexpected turns--at least in terms of a career--as she grew into a teen and then a young adult. The arts were a road Shirley had been advised not to take by her parents. Marriage and family was the safe, expected life plan. When Philip and Shirley met in the early 1950s, she was working as a nurse.
Philip liked her spunk. Shirley slowly but surely fell in love with his hardworking, salt-of-the-earth demeanor and innate intelligence. There was little doubt between them that they would live happily ever after. But the reality of the times, coupled with the fact that the Camerons were intent on a large family, eventually resulted in Shirley giving up nursing and her creative aspirations. She adopted the traditional role of housewife and, in short order, became mother to five children.
Their first child, James Cameron, was born on August 16, 1954. When Cameron was an infant, the family moved to nearby Chippewa... Cameron recalled in a 1986 Starlog interview, that his early childhood years "did not contain any serious trauma," and it appears he thrived in the tradition-bound Cameron family.
Shapiro, pages 28-29:
At an early age, [James] Cameron's creative interests gravitated toward fantasy. Stacks of comic books, with a particular preference for Marvel titles like Spider-Man and The X-Men, lay all over his room. And on the weekends Jim and his siblings and friends would decamp to the local Niagara Falls cinema...
Given his mother's influence, it came as no surprise when Cameron, by age twelve, had become a fairly good artist and announced to anyone who would listen that he was gonig to "be a comic-book artist" when he grew up.
Shapiro, page 30:
Comic books carried the young James Cameron into Stamford Collegiate High School where his interest in comic-book heroes took a sudden turn to science fiction. "I would have to say that in my youth I was an absolutely rabid science fiction fan. I read all the classics, all the old Ace paperback novels. I was really into people like Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and Kurt Vonnegut. When I read science fiction I saw stuff in my head that I had never seen in films."
When James Cameron was a teenager, his father got a job in Orange County, which thrilled James, because by that time he was intent on becoming a filmmaker, and he was happy to be closer to Hollywood. Shapiro, pages 43-44:
James Cameron graduated from high school with a better-than-typical grade point averge... He was torn between two career paths, arts and science. He was outstanding in both areas and felt he could make a satisfying life in either arena.
There was also his relationship with Sharon, now a senior in high school, to consider. Marriage was a possibility but Cameron's psyche reblled against the notion; he equated the idea with being tied down...
"I decided I was going to be a scientist," he recalled. He announced his plans to his family and friends in 1973, shortly after enrolling in nearby Fullerton College, a two-year community college. Cameron decided to major in physics and English with an engineering minor. Soon afterward, Jim and Sharon made the decision to move in together and soon found themselves in a cramped rented house in Brea.
Shapiro, page 46:
Cameron's grades in physics and engineering at Fullerton College were good, and he appeared comfortable in the campus environment. But he admitted on more than one occasion that he was torn between the hard realities of science and the potential freedom of the arts. "I wanted to see God," recalled the only marginally religious Cameron, looking back on those frustrating days, in a December 1997 Esquire magazine article.
But, while he was not seeing God, Cameron would go to great lengths to find creative outlets amid the onslaught of academics that often seemed contrary to his basic state of mind. With barely enough money for food and rent, Cameron would often wind up on the doorstep of family friend Susan Gaede, eager to borrow and play with her camera.
James Cameron struggled with higher-level math and became more interested in becoming a writer. At the age of 20, he dropped out of Fullerton College shortly before the fall 1974 semester began. "But rather than sampling life outside of campus, he slipped into a period of lethargy: drinking a lot of beer, sampling other substances, and doing a lot of writing on an ever-present clipboard and yellow writing paper" (Shapiro, page 47).
Shapiro, page 54:
When Cameron was not actually making [amateur] movies [circa 1977], he could usually be found reading or writing at a cramped table in their equally cramped living room. Ideas were flowing at a fast pace. He was in a constant state of hyperspeed. And it did not stop when it was time to play.
"Jim used to take my car out on the open road," Sharon told the National Enquirer, "and get it up to 100 miles per hour. Then he'd yank up real hard on the emergency brake and the car would go into this 180-degree spin."
Given all this, it came as a surprise to their friends and coworkers that Jim and Sharon remained totally committed and faithful to each other. "I never knew him as somebody who would chase women," former coworker John Hango told me. "There was something he was after, and it was not women. But I knew at that point he was not really ready to settle down. Marriage just wasn't in him at all."
From: Bill Moseley, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: An Interview with James Cameron", published in Omni magazine, 1998 (URL: http://www.astralgia.com/webportfolio/omnimoment/titanic/cameron/index.html; viewed 14 August 2005):
James Francis Cameron was born in 1954 in Kapuskasing, Ontario, a little town just north of Niagara Falls... The family moved to Brea, CA, in 1971. Jim attended Fullerton College, studied Physics and English, dropped out, got married and drove a truck for the local school district. His turning point came when a friend who was pitching film ideas to a consortium of rich Mormon dentists invited Jim to take the mound. Jim delighted the tooth doctors with a Star Wars-like SF script that could be done for $400,000. So he quit his day job and went to work learning the art and craft of making movies, plundering libraries for information, sculpting his own models, building his own dolly tracks at home.
Cameron completed enough of the 35-millimeter short to use it in 1980 to get in the door of Roger Corman's New World Pictures. Within a couple of weeks Cameron was hard at work on the feature Battle Beyond the Stars, wearing the hats of miniature builder, model unit DP (director of photography) and matte painter. On Corman's Galaxy of Terror, he got the chance as Second Unit Director to direct some dialogue scenes with the principal cast and found his calling.
James Cameron recounted the events that led up to his making his very first professional film, which was financed by dentists who were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, i.e., Mormons. From: Shapiro, pages 54-59:
Cameron continued to thrash around a filmmaking career thorugh 1977. He mde his movies and showed them to family and friends. However, he made no attempt to get them into the hands of the people who might help him get a foothold in the industry. During that period, Jim would inevitably respond to any questioning of his supposed lack kof professional drive by insisting that he just wasn't ready. However, the reality was an inner frustration at the fact that the state of the art of moviemaking had not caught up with the fantastic scenarios that were constantly playing out in his head.
Everything changed in 1977 when he wandered into a local theater and saw Star Wars for the first time.
Cameron had become part of an informal group that trekked religiously to the lcoal cinema every time a new science-fiction entry unspooled. They were usually disappointed at the hack work that Hollywood was spewing forth. "But I walked into Star Wars and just went 'Wow!'" he recalled, remembering that magic moment. "Star Wars was what I had been seeing in my head all along, I saw that all the things I had been imagining could now be done."
Cameron was suddenly and appropriately inspired. And he knew he had to alter his professional game plan if he was going to play in the big leagues. He began casting around for major financing for a serious themed film. Eventually he was introduced to a group of well-heeled Orange County [Mormon] dentists who wanted to put up money for a low-budget movie and, in the process, tax-shelter some of their income. A friend of Cameron's had gotten involved with the dentists and was actively pitching them slasher- and action-film ideas but had not received any favorable response. He called Jim one day and this friend said, "'He have you got any ideas?' I said, 'Yeah, I've got a couple,'" Cameron recounted.
Cameron and the dentists met; they took one look at him and saw a freak. He, in turn, took one look at them and saw money and a ticket to ride. "They asked me if I had any ideas," he revealed to US magazine in 1991. "I had lots of ideas. I got involved with them and promptly took the whole project over."
Cameron submitted a batch of ten story lines and was surprised when the dentists decided on a special-effects alien movie called Xenon Genesis. "It really was a surprise," remembered Cameron. "They picked the one idea we thought they'd be least likely to pick. It was a concept that involved a lot of spacecraft, machinery, and hardware. But we thought, 'Heck, if they want to do that, fine.'"
The dentists gleefully proposed a budget of $400,000; they eventually turned over $20,000 in actual cash. Jim had been counting on at least $150,000. This drastic change in finances caused an immediate alteration in plans. What had originally been designed as a full-length feature would end up being a 12-minute mini-feature that would be used as a calling card to get further financing for the full-length opus.
"They wanted me to do Star Wars but, of course, they didn't want to spend that kind of money," Cameron recalled in a 1989 Omni magazine interview. "But I was game. I had nothing to lose."
Once again Jim turned to Sharon and friends for cast and crew. Space suits were sculpted out of tinfoil. When he was able to secure Fullerton College's eye clinic as a location, Cameron immediately tailored the script to maximize the use of that set.
"Jim designed all the models from scratch," remembered Wisher, of the rigors of that shoestring production. "He would go out and buy these models of battleships and airplanes and take th epices and cobble them all together. He would visualize these machines and then say, 'Let's go build them.' Then he would do it and they would always work. We would be in his garage at two in the morning, creating these primitive forced-perspective backgrounds by cutting and gluing paper. Everybody did a little bit of everything on that film, but Jim was definitely the genine pushing it."
[page 57] But, while outwardly confident during the early days of filming Xenon Genesis, Cameron was internally insecure at the prospect of making a real movie with real money. "On the first day of shooting I found myself with forty thousand dollars' worth of rented camera equipment and no idea how to use any of it," noted the fledgling filmmaker years later. "I spent the first few days learning how to load the cameras and change the lenses. I spent a lot of time on the phone with the camera-rental company, asking a lot of questions. Finally we figured that if we kept calling, they'd figure we didn't know how to use the camera dn would come down and take it away. So we had to figure it out the hard way. It was like, 'If it goes over this sprocket, then it should go over the next one.' we finally figured it out and got it running."
Jim overcame his insecurities and was soon shouting orders and making outrageous demands of his friends, just like the Cameron of old. He made full use of his arsenal of equipment and took his first major foray into big-time special effects. "The first thing we did was an in-the-camera glass matte [combining a painting on glass, held in front of the camera lens, with a real landscape] that worked out real fine."
In the meantime, the dentists putting up the seed money had started to get nervous about how their dollars were being spent. Their initial confidence in Cameron was becoming increasingly shaky. Consequently, the initial stream of money slowed to a trickle, and finally stopped, four months into production on Xenon Genesis. Cameron was greatly disappointed, but finally turned philosophical about having the project dropped.
<>"The financing for the movie never completely coming together was probably for a good reason," reasoned the director in a 1984 issue of Fangoria magazine. "I hesitate to think what kind of film I might have made at that point in my development as a filmmaker."
In point of fact, James Cameron was feeling quite fulfilled. Despite sitting on a pile of footage that might never be used, he felt he had, in his own mind, passed a test. What he had shot was respectable for somebody who was totally self-taught, and indicated that he was on the threshold of the nxt big unknown event in his career.
Then, on Valentine's Day, 1977, Jim and Sharon, after five years of living together, got married. It was a simple ceremony, attended by only a handful of family and friends. And for those on hand, the ritual seemed an odd choice for the no-holds-barred Cameron. But in Sharon Williams, Cameron seemed to have found the perfect helpmate. She never complained about his not working in a traditional sense, or that he spent a goodly portion of the money that she earned. Sharon was convinced that Jim was going to make it, although in private moments, she would often ask herself how and when.
Following their wedding, Jim returned to the pileof film that was the unfinished Xenon Genesis. He decided he had enough footage to edit into a special-effects laden promo reel that was a shortened version of the proposed full-length production. The result was a 12-minute, 35mm entry that Cameron was quite happy with. "It was crudely edited," he assessed in a 1985 Film Comment interview. "But there was a visual narrative there and the special effects are pretty good. It showed certain basic skills. For a bunch of dumbsh--s who didn't know what we were doing, it was pretty good."
Those who had seen the film claimed that Xenon Genesis had the look of a real film. And Cameron was confident enough to take a chance to screen it in some local theaters. The response from audiences was good, and inspired the young filmmaker to take what he considered the next step. "I was totally broke and needed a job. I thought, 'I've got to get my hands dirty in the real film world.' Even if it was totally down and dirty."
Enter Roger Corman, king of the B movies.
Shapiro, pages 61-62:
Roger Corman was legendary in Hollywood for having given many unknowns their first chance to make movies, to make mistakes, and, most importantly, to develop their own personal styles of filmmaking. Cameron had read the stories of how such future film greats as Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, and Martin Scorsese had literally been hired off the street by Corman, so he figured Corman's New World Studio in Hollywood was the place to start. So, with the promo footage of Xenon Genesis tucked under his arm, James Cameron went calling.
"I just knocked on their door one day with these reels," Cameron laughingly recalled the day he showed Xenon Genesis to Chuck Kaminsky, the head of Corman's special-effects department. As he said to Kenneth Turan for an August 19891 piece in US magazine, "I wasn't talking 'director.' I wasn't going in and saying 'filmmaker.' I was saying, 'I can build miniatures, I can work an effects camera and I know a bit about animation.' I wasn't looking for anything more than a job as an effects technician."
Kaminsky thought Cameron's efforts showed a lot of promise.Hohwever, he was equally impessed with the fact that the brash young filmmaker had no shortage of self-confidence to go along with his obvious talent. And so, despite the fact that New World had all of Cameron's specific technical skills covered, Kaminsky hired him on in the ground-floor position of departmental model-builder.
Cameron tried to handle getting this job in the Corman low-budget factory with some degree of cool. However, as he celebrated that night, with Sharon and his Xenon Genesis circle of friends, there was no mistaking his wide grin and the jubilant glint in his eyes.
[James Cameron began working at Corman's New World Studio on Battle Beyond the Stars, and before long he ended up becoming that film's production designer when the person previously in that position was let go. This was Cameron's first work on a film that was seen in a general theatrical release, and it set him on the path toward his full-fledged film career.]
James Cameron spent so much time working at Roger Corman's New World Studio, that he spent less and less time with his wife, Sharon Williams. He eventually rented an apartment near New World Studio in Hollywood, so he would not have to make the long daily commute back to Brea. Cameron drifted apart from his wife and began an affair with fellow New Line employee Gale Anne Hurd (an executive and producer). Cameron eventually divorced Sharon and married Hurd. From: Shapiro, page 82:
Word soon got back to Sharon that her still-legally-married spouse had hooked up with Hurd. She admitted to being sad at this sign that Jim was gone, but harbored no bitterness. "I'll always love Jim and I believe that, in some way, he will always love me," she insisted, in her 1998 interview with the National Enquirer.
The script for Terminator that James Cameron wrote was a huge hit among Hollywood studios, but nobody wanted to let James Cameron, who had almost zero credits as a director, be the director of it. However, the deal he had made with producer and girlfriend Gale Anne Hurd was that they would not let any studio make the film unless Cameron himself directed it. Shapiro, pages 102-103:
The Terminator continued to be vetoed for one reason or another throughout the summer of 1982 and into fall of that year. But while their professional prospects were nil, Cameron (who had recently turned twenty-eight) and Hurd's relationship was continuing to mature.
Cameron's wife Sharon, hoping against hope that Jim would come to his senses and return to her, had not pushed for a final divorce, while Cameron had taken it for granted that their separation was as good as any final decree and that he was free to be with Hurd.
Cameron and Hurd celebrated their relationship with all the enthusiasm and abandon of youthful first love. Dates with Hurd were often centered around their passion--the latest development in the Terminator odyssey--over fast-food or late-night dinners at the beach. The couple was never apart for very long and Cameron's growing admiration for this strong woman was made all the more intoxicating by the fact that they seemed to click on many levels.
Shapiro, page 114:
When The Terminator was nearing the beginning of its 1984 production, Cameron was faced with unfinished personal business. His wife Sharon and he had gone their separate ways but they needed an official divorce decree to put an end to that part of their lives. The divorce was a totally amicable affair. Cameron was willing to give Sharon whatever she wanted in the settlement despite the fact that he had very little money. Sharon, who still had strong feelilngs for Jim and was, perhaps, hoping for a reconciliation, did not want anything material from her ex-spouse. She ultimately received a total of $1,200 from him.
Due to similarities between James Cameron's film The Terminator and an episode of The Outer Limits (titled "Soldier") that had been written by science fiction writer Harlan Ellison, people close to Ellison told him James Cameron may have plagiarized from from Ellison's script. Ellison was not typically litigious and resisted pursuing the matter. But when he saw The Terminator he realized that much of the plot seemed to have been taken directly from the "Soldier" episode he had written, and the beginning of both works seemed identical. Ellison's attorneys contacted the distributors of The Terminator to discuss the matter, but James Cameron "angrily denied the plagiarism charge. Cameron insisted that time travel and robots were common science-fiction themes, and pointed to endless appearances by both subjects in sci-fi movies, TV shows, and books ever since the genre began." Unfortunately, Cameron had told an interviewer for Starlog magazine that he "took a couple of Outer Limits segments" (Shapiro, page 130). From: Shapiro, page 126:
"...I started getting early warnign signals by phone and along the Internet that somebody was preparing a script that seemed to be a pretty blatant rip-off of my 'Soldier' script from Outer Limits," recalled Ellison. "I heard from a journalist [and now successful TV producer/writer] Tracy Torme [writer/producer of Fire in the Sky, based on the true story of Latter-day Saint lumberjack and alleged alien abductee Travis Walton]. He called and told me, 'I need to tell you something. I was visiting on the set of The Terminator when Cameron was shooting and I asked him where he got the idea.' Cameron arrogantly told him, 'Oh, I ripped off a couple of Harlan Ellison stories.'"
Ellison was not particularly interested in suing James Cameron over the matter, but unfortunately there was physical evidence that was difficult for Ellison's attorneys to ignore. James Cameron and girlfriend (and Terminator producer) Gale Anne Hurd had contacted Starlog magazine and demanded that they send the galleys of the as-yet unpublished interview the magazine had conducted with James Cameron about The Terminator. When Starlog refused, Hurd threatened to sue them, so then sent the material. From: Shapiro, pages 130-131:
When the article came back to Starlog [from Hurd and Cameron], it had only one change. In the first paragraph Cameron was asked where he got the idea for Terminator and Cameron's response was, 'Oh, I took a couple of Outer Limits segments.' That quote was the only thing that was missing. What Cameron and Hurd did not know was that Starlog still had copies of the original galley and the original transcript. And so [Ellison] had the smoking gun."
Ellison's attorney returned to Hemdale and Orion [the studio that made The Terminator]. They said, "Here's the evidence. They took one look at this sh-- and their attorneys said, 'Settle.'"
...Ellison, for his trouble, settled for approximately $400,000 and a story credit in all theatrical prints and on all video releases and laser-disc releases of the film. In hindsight, the writer... was bittersweet at having bested Cameron.
"If Cameron had called me and said, 'I know your story, but I've got a different idea--do you mind if I do a variation on it?' I would have said, 'Go ahead, man, knock yourself out and have a good time.' All I would have asked for was a 'Thank you, Harlan Ellison' on the credit line next to the guy who brought the doughnuts and it wouldn't have cost him a penny."
After the huge success of The Terminator, studios were eager to have James Cameron direct the screenplay he had written for Aliens, the sequel to Ridley Scott's film Alien. Before production was greenlit on the project, James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd got married. This was Cameron's second marriage. From: Shapiro, page 134:
...the duo had something to occupy their free time. While awaiting Fox's decision on Weaver [Fox originally didn't want to bring Siguorney Weaver back for the sequel, thinking that it would be too expensive to do so] and truly believing that their insistence on Siguorney had cost them the film, Cameron and Hurd, in a moment of reckless abandon, decided to marry. They couple flew to the Hawaiian island of Maui for the ceremony in late April 1985, where a typically Cameron sense of drama was thrown in for good measure.
"The day of the wedding I got cold feet," said Hurd laughingly in a 1986 People magazine conversation. "Jim ended up having to do this logical, cost-benefit analysis of why getting married would be a good idea. We came out in the black."
Hurd and James Cameron were married in 1985. They divorced in 1989, although they continued to work together as producer and director. Cameron was later married to film director Kathryn Bigelow from August 1989 until 1991. James Cameron later married actress Linda Hamilton (the star of The Terminator and its sequel) in July 1997. They had one daughter together and were divorced in 1999.
Cameron was a producer and co-writer for the movie Point Break, which was directed by his wife, Kathryn Bigelow. Point Break stars Keanu Reeves as a rookie FBI agent named "Johnny Utah." Gary Busey plays Utah's partner, veteral FBI agent Angelo Pappas. Their boss in the Los Angeles FBI field office is a yuppie Latter-day Saint (Mormon) named Ben Harp (played by John C. McGinley). From: Shapiro, page 183:
Jim [James Cameron] discovered very quickly that [Kathryn] Bigelow was a soul mate, every bit as committed to her passions as he was. And, much like Hurd, she was a strong woman who would not be dependent on him for a life. Once again Cameron had met his ideal mate, a female version of himself. In a matter of weeks they were deeply in love, and shortly after she completed filming on Blue Steel, James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow were married, in August 1989. Cameron was not hesitant about making this third trip down the aisle; for Bigelow, the marriage to Cameron was her maiden voyage...
In short order, the Cameron-Bigelow relationship took on the same trappings of the Cameron-Hurd marriage. They were passionate both in their personal and professional relationships, and much like the aftermath of Aliens, in a matter of weeks,the union was largely put on hold as both went on to their next films.
Bigelow, with Cameron in the executive producer's chair, immediately jumped into plans for a supercharged caper feature about bank-robbing surfers called Riders of the Storm (the title of which would later be changed to the more marketable Point Break).
Shapiro, page 190:
It was during the writing of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, in April and May of 1990, that Cameron's personal and professional lives once again collided with one another. [Kathryn] Bigelow thus far had been able to cut down on Cameron's executive producer duties on Point Break. But principal production was fast approaching and she was not yet happy with the shooting script. Cameron stepped in and wrote a final, uncredited draft that juiced up the action with his patented equation of climax following climax.
Unfortunately, Cameron had also given the Carolco execs his word that he would have the Terminator 2 script ready for a formal announcement of the film at the May 1990 Cannes Film Festival. And so it was back to coffee and no sleep. First he completed his Point Break draft, and then plunged into a marathon thirty-six-hour rush to the finish line with Terminator 2.
Shapiro, page 195:
Cameron and Bigelow's marriage, in the meantime, had already begun to sour. While Cameron was deep into Terminator 2, Bigelow was working, simultaneously, on the pressurve-intensive Point Break. And so the still-very-new relationship, despite the best efforts to stay in touch by phone and the occasional get-together, was heading down the same path that had destroyed the Cameron-Hurd marriage.
About Cameron's film True Lies, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as super-spy Harry Trasker. The film co-stars Jamie Lee Curtis as Trasker's wife, and Latter-day Saint actress Eliza Dushku as their daughter. Shapiro, page 224:
Cameron's penchant for taking at least one chance in every movie came in the pivotal role of Trasker's sidekick, Gib. Tongues began wagging all over Hollywood when he let it be known that he was considering comic--and, at that point, failed TV-sitcom star--Tom Arnold for the part. Arnold had garned more attention for being married to [Jewish Mormon] television personality Roseanne Barr than for any of his own creative efforts. For some industry watchers, it seemed that, in even considering Tom Arnold, James Cameron had finally taken leave of his senses.
Shapiro, pages 239-240:
The controversy surrounding True Lies' cost, which by now Twentieth Century-Fox had given up denying was right around the $120 million mark, continued to be the topic of conversation among studio executives and filmmakers alike. One filmmaker, who refused to give his name in a Premiere story, pretty much summed up the feeling around Hollywood when he stated, "They say he's totally out of his mind. He's spending more money than anybody ever spent in the history of man."
As the studio began to count down the days until its July 1994 release, True Lies suddenly found itself in a public-relations nightmare. A nationwide protest headed by the National Council of Islamic Affairs targeted the action movie for its anti-Arab and anti-Islamic tone. Women's groups also found a lot to target in True Lies' misogynist attitude toward Jamie Lee Curtis's character. Cameron chose to stay above the fray, remaining largely silent on the knocks against the film and indicating privately that the whole thing was nonsense.
Twentieth Century-Fox, deeming any form of dissent as a direct attack on their big financial gamble, attempted to appease the protestors by tacking on a hastily created disclaimer on the film's end credit that said, "This film is a work of fiction and does not represent the action or beliefs of a particular culture or religion."
This attempt at appeasement did not prevent card-carrying protesters from showing up at theaters showing True Lies when the film finally debuted in July 1994. To what degree these demonstrations affected True Lies' performance is not certain. But after a solid $25.5 million opening weekend, interest in the film declined rapidly, and while True Lies presencein theaters was integral in helping to sink the bloated western Wyatt Earp, it could not keep pace with Forrest Gump and The Lion King. Despite grossing an estimated $150 million, in relation to its now-legendary cost, True Lies was considered a disappointment.
Shapiro, page 254:
The casting of [Titanic lead characters] Jack and Rose ws the toughest nut to crack. To Cameron's way of thinking, the fate of the entire movie depended on finding young actors who were up to the emotional as well as the physical requirmeents of the highly demanding film. Consequently, Cameron was particular and did not find anyone to his liking, especially a twenty-two-year old British actress named Kate Winslet, who came in to audition for the part of Rose. Cameron was aware of her credits in such films as Heavenly Creatures (1994) [in which Winslet played the real-life character of Juliet Hulme as a teenager, before Hulme converted and was baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] and Sense and Sensibility (1995) but, at first, was not impressed.
"I resisted Kate when she was initially suggested," he recalled in a Movieline interview. "I said, 'She does period movies, I don't want that.' I wanted to be able to take the audience through that barrier with somebody new." But when Kate auditioned on film, it was a very simple decision. "I realized she was just about the most talented actor around for her age."
Shapiro, page 256:
...it was Cameron's casting idiosyncracies that indirectly led to eighty-five-year-old Gloria Stuart landing the coveted role of the elder Rose Bukater. The director had always insisted that actors up for parts in his movies had to read for him as part of the aution process. He was not one to suffer egos lightly, and so he passed on a number of bigger screen names than Stuart, including [Mormon actress] Fay Wray, when those talents refused to read for him, claiming their past work spoke for them. Stuart had no problems reading for the director and subsequently got the key role.
Shapiro, pages 257-258:
James Cameron was living and breathing Titanic into the fall of 1995. He was such a thorough researcher and storehouse of facts that he was close to becoming his own expert. However, Cameron was not happy. Yes, there were fiscal and technological problems, but he was certain they would be resolved. There was something a lot deeper going on in James Cameron's heart and soul. Something spiritual. Something bigger than the film.
James Cameron announced, in an excerpt from a personal diary that appeared in Wired magazine, that unless he could film the actual remains of the Titanic, he would not make the film. "I wanted to create a kind of living history of the event. I thought, 'We have to shoot it for real.'"
James Cameron and long-time girlfriend/living partner Linda Hamilton were married shortly after principle photography was completed for Titanic. From: Shapiro, pages 306-307:
Cameron was caught up in the whirlwind of emotions after completing the filming of Titanic. The professional task had left him feeling personally vulnerable, and he often found himself reflecting onhis lack of a normal family life. The self-revelations were tough for him to deal with. A large part of his psyche had long refused to be tied down. But suddenly he looked at Hamilton and his daughter and the idea of being monogamous appealed to him in a way it never had before.
Cameron's change in attitude was hastened by [Linda] Hamilton's assertion that the unorthodox nature of their relationship had to end. Linda finally gave him a choice: commit to her and their daughter, or continue to pursue his affair with [Suzy] Amis and lose them both forever.
James Cameron and Linda Hamilton were married on July 26  in Malibu, California. For a time Cameron made a real effort to make the marriage work. When he was seen out in public, it was usually with Hamilton and his daughter. He made the small, romantic overtures to Hamilton and was very much the loving father to daughter Josephine. And, most importantly, he had dropped Suzy Amis, who reportedly was devastated.
Typical of Cameron's work ethic, Titanic, with its more than two hundred special-effects shots, was coming together just a step ahead of the release date. [The movie ] He scrupulously trimmed frames and seconds in an attempt to get Titanic down to what he considered a manageable 3 hours, 13 minutes.
Shapiro, page 317:
Cameron's antics [after he personally won three Academy Awards for Titanic, which became far and away the highest-grossing movie in world history] inevitably contributed to running into the ground his already fragile marriage to Linda Hamilton. It was no secret to the media that he was once again seeing Suzy Amis, and he began appearing quite often in public with her at such events as the Niagara Falls ceremonies honoring that city's favorite son, and a fund-raising event which also served to honor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the meantime Cameron, according to tabloid newspaper reports, had become verbally abusive and controlling toward Hamilton. Finally, within weeks of his Oscar triumph, Cameron once again moved out of Hamilton's home. Divorce seemed inevitable but, owing to a potential multimillion-dollar divorce settlement and the rumor that the manic Cameron was attempting to get Hamilton back yet another time had put the ultimate outcome of the Cameron-Hamilton marriage in limbo.
Cameron greeted the news that his chaotic personal life was once again being played out in the tabloid press with equal measures of disappointment and amazement. "It's just an odd, creepy feeling that all of a sudden my personal life is in some way significant. I'm amazed at the inaccuracy of most reports."
Shapiro, page 20:
...with his Titanic megasuccess, [James Cameron's] personal life has become fodder for the tabloids. In particular there was Jim's affair with Titanic actress Suzy Amis, which reportedly contributed to the end of his marriage to Linda Hamilton. It was an immediate media sensation and drew attention, for the first time, tot he fact that James Cameron, as a human being, was decidedly flawed.
His four failed marriages--to exceptionally strong-willed individuals, three of whom are college-educated women in the movie business--hint at an insecurity affirmed by those close to him. "I know Jim has always felt bad about never getting a college degree," recalled Susan Gaede, a close family friend, in a 1988 telephone conversation, "and I think he always felt a bit insecure being married to women who he perceived as being more educated than he was."
Shapiro, page 321:
...Cameron's personal life was clearing up. On December 16, 19998, Linda Hamilton had formally filed for divorce from Jim Cameron, citing irreconcilable differences. She was seeking custody of their now five-year-old daughter, but would allow Cameron to visit her on a regular basis. Linda was candid in a January 1999 issue of USA Today, in assessing the wreckage of their relationship and short-lived marriage: "Living with Jim was very difficult," she said. "Divorcing is harder. I wanted to be the one to do the final destructive act. It was an important thing for me personally not to feel like the victim." The filmmaker and Linda Hamilton finally made it official in mid-1999, when they legally divorced. Hamilton retained custody of the couple's child and Cameron was given reasonable visitation rights. The financial element of the divorce has been subject to much media speculation. Many tabloid reports announced that Hamilton received as much as $100 million from Cameron in the settlement, but not actual figures were published.
Webpage created 14 August 2005. Last modified 28 August 2005.
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